Okay world, say cheese!

Photo by Samm Coffin

It seems like such a simple thing — you take a photo and you’ve captured  a moment of your youth, your family, your presence on the planet. But billions of people around the world have not a single photo of themselves.  That realization hit Carolyn Lane, as she traveled around the developing world, snapping away, so she decided to switch up the dynamic — from taking photos of people, to Take and Give photos.

Dog Meets World is Carolyn’s freshly developed photo diplomacy project that is starting a movement to photograph the children of the world, and give them that photo, that will last a lifetime, right on the spot.  Using small, portable printers, rechargeable batteries and photo paper, volunteer phodographers (as Carolyn calls them) have already traveled to 25 countries to take, develop and give away photos to children in need and their families, at a price of about 30 cents apiece. Each photo involves the mascot Foto dog, Carolyn’s inspiration to engage the children, transcend language barriers, and unify the photos. And best of all, anybody can be a phodographer-– you just have to want to make a simple act of kindness and affirmation to a child in need.

“I can’t tell you how magical it is to watch the faces of people who are seeing the first image of themselves develop right before their eyes,” says Carolyn. “They look at their picture and they see who they are, their individual importance, and their potential. It is so powerful.”

Waiting for the magic to happen

When I first heard about Dog Meets World, I thought – wow, billions of people desperately need water, food and shelter. Do they really need a photograph? But when I went on the website and saw the moving photos of children from Cambodia, Peru and Zambia proudly holding their first picture — a picture that proclaims, “I am here. I exist. I am valuable.” — then I was right on board.

Carolyn’s crew of phodographers include tourist and business travelers, Peace Corps volunteers, Fulbright scholars, Studying Abroad students, Kiva Fellows, even families (or you!).  They take to the streets, share their photos online, and by giving their portraits away, show children around the world: “I see you. You are important to me.”

Although each phodographer pays for his or her own equipment, Dog Meets World donates photographic equipment when needed and intends to train local people in developing countries the skills of  photography as well. Carolyn considers every photo that Dog Meets World distributes to children in need to be an artifact that we can leave behind, a sign of our respect, and a little seed of peace strewn across the planet. And today, I’m happy to donate to that. Click to donate here