Blue Earth Alliance – Collaborations for Cause 2016


Collaborations for Cause is a two-day event that brings together cutting-edge content creators and front-line organizations for an exploration of how to harness the power of the evolving media landscape. Presented by Blue Earth Alliance, the fourth annual conference builds upon the organization's 20-year history of facilitating issue-driven visual storytelling. With a mix of presentations by leading experts, in-depth case studies showcasing real projects, insightful arm-chair conversations, and break-out sessions, participants will leave inspired and armed with fresh approaches, an expanded network of contacts and new resolve to build lasting positive change.

Founded in 1996 by Natalie FobesPhil Borges and Malcolm Edwards, Blue Earth Alliance offers resources and support for photographers to fulfill projects that positively impact the world. Among the projects supported by Blue Earth Alliance are Sara Terry’s Aftermath Project, Matt Black's People of the Clouds, Tim Matsui's Leaving The Life, Subhanker Banerjee’s Land as Home and Camille Seaman’s Siberia Is Melting.

PhotoWings is honored to continue our partnership with Blue Earth Alliance.
Collaborations for Cause 2016 was held April 15 & 16 in Seattle, Washington.


 The two day event built upon the 20-year history Blue Earth has had of facilitating issue-driven visual storytelling. Highlights from this year's program included award-winning producer, director and cinematographer Louie Schwartzberg, American Society of Media Photographers's Executive Director Tom Kennedy, documentary filmmaker Roger Ressmeyer, and David Patton, Senior Digital Marketing Strategist at Vulcan Inc.


Louie Schwartzberg - Learning Through Gratitude


Roger Ressmeyer - Hope, Health and Happiness:
Working Together to Save Planet Earth

Roger Ressmeyer shares the origins of the Visions of Tomorrow documentary film project and how it offers real solutions for some of the world’s most pressing problems. With a background in space and science photography for National Geographic, Time and The New York Times, as well as key learnings from his current endeavor, Roger shares hope, practical advice and collaborative ideas on how all of us can work together to move projects from vision to completion.

Sara Terry: The Aftermath Project, War is Only Half the Story: from project to non-profit - Collaborations for Cause 2016 

Sara Terry shares the pros and cons of starting a non-profit as a photographer, and how her own passion for an issue led from a long-term personal project to a grant making program for other artists. Now in the 10th year of the Aftermath Project, Sara reflects on the privilege of curating a conversation, the challenges of fundraising on behalf of other people's projects and how to maintain her own vision, integrity and artistry throughout.


Mike Davis - The Music of Photographs

PhotoWings sat down with Mike Davis, an award-winning Photo Editor who has worked with some of the world’s best photo staffs at National Geographic Magazine, the White House Photo Office and several of America’s leading newspapers. Davis was twice named newspaper picture editor of the year, and has edited the work of several photographers who went on to win Photographer of the Year. He is the Alexia Tsairis Chair for Documentary Photography at the Newhouse School, where he teaches and runs the Alexia Foundation Grants competition.

Peter DiCampo: Everyday Perspectives

Award-winning photographer Peter DiCampo sat down with PhotoWings to discuss the genesis and phenomenal success of the social photography project Everyday Africa, which has led to a community of more than 20 unique Everyday projects called Everyday Everywhere. The project seeks to encourage empathy and understanding by documenting relatable and contextual images, in addition to those made with stereotypical narratives. Founded by journalists DiCampo and Austin Merrill, the project has used the shareability of social media to reach a global audience.


The New Ecosystem of Collaboration
John Hoyt

Communication professionals, content creators and context providers alike face a brave new world that is also populated by an increasingly savvy public. What classic considerations remain and what new issues must we learn to work with?

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Leaving the Life
Tim Matsui and Mike Davis

Learn how filmmaker and photojournalist Tim Matsui found an international story in his own backyard and with seed capital from the Alexia Foundation, brought together a team of nonprofits, foundations and producers to support his project, "Leaving the Life." Tim is in conversation with Mike Davis, the Alexia Tsairis Chair for Documentary Photography at the Newhouse School - he teaches visual storytelling and runs the Alexia Foundation Grants.

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Finding Trust
Annie Marie Musselman

Shortly after her mother died, Annie Marie Musselman started photographing injured animals at the Sarvey Wildlife Care Center. Hear how she was able to turn a personal project into a career-defining body of work and the triumphs and pitfalls she continues to encounter.

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Focus on Science: The Ocean Acidification Story
Craig Welch (The Seattle Times), Terrie Klinger (University of Washington), Katie Campbell (KCTS), Liz Banse (Resource Media) Moderated by Liz Neeley (COMPASS)

In a relatively short amount of time, the issue of ocean acidification in the Pacific Northwest has gone from a scientific anomaly to front page news and legislative action. Hear from a group of researchers, reporters, and communication specialists who played a role in this remarkable arc. The panel explores how storytellers can help scientists communicate their findings with public audiences and change-makers and highlight the differing incentives, techniques, and contributions of different players in this mix.

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Sin and Salvation in Baptist Town
Matt Eich

Since 2010, photographer Matt Eich has returned to the town of Greenwood, Mississippi to explore the race and class disparity in this historically divided community. Here, his subject is his audience and he uses photography to introduce neighbors to one another in an honest and intimate way.

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Narrative vs. Advocacy
Melissa Ryan (Nature Conservancy magazine), 

Beth Wald (E-Tech International), Jamie Penney (Getty Images), Moderated by Jason Houston

How can non-fiction content producers balance their drive for authenticity when tasked with communicating an organization's mission? Where's the line between reporting on an issue and creating propaganda for an advocacy effort? We'll explore the sometimes complicated landscape that arises when nonprofits become the media makers.

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Everyday Africa
Peter DiCampo

The common media image of the African continent is one of extremes – but how can we identify the extremes without first establishing the norms? Two years ago, photojournalist Peter DiCampo started sharing iPhone snapshots while on assignment in West Africa. Now he's breaking down media stereotypes with a team of 20 contributing photographers, 90,000 Instagram followers, and spin-offs starting in other continents. He'll share what he's learned about how visual streams and camera phones are changing the rules of photojournalism, visual literacy and audience engagement.

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Aaron Huey

Photographer Aaron Huey, whose community-centered coverage of the Pine Ridge Reservation became both a TED talk and a National Geographic cover story (2012), will show how he worked with both communities and organizations to take a story beyond the editorial pages of magazines. He will also talk about his use of social media to grow and fund both non traditional projects and movements like his Honor the Treaties initiative.

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The Distribution Dilemma
Hilary Sparrow (Vulcan), David Holbrooke (Mountainfilm), Scilla Andreen (IndieFlix), Sam Price-Waldman (The Atlantic), Moderated by Benjamin Drummond

Congratulations, you just wrapped post-production on a new short film! Now what? Should you post it on YouTube and hope for overnight viral success? Should you charge for online views? Will film festivals be interested in a project completed for a nonprofit client? We'll explore distribution strategies for both independent producers and organizations and hear why traditional media outlets are starting to invest in short-form film.

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Epidemic - TB in the Global Community
David Rochkind

The statistics are alarming. In 2009, there were 9.4 million new cases of tuberculosis across the world and 1.7 million people died from the disease. Blue Earth photographer David Rochkind will share images from his project and explain how he's partnering with aid and educational organizations, foundations and the media to create an emotional understanding of one of the deadliest diseases of our time.

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Assessing Impact
Andrew DeVigal (A Fourth Act), Hilary Sparrow (Vulcan), Melissa Ryan(Nature Conservancy magazine), Liz Banse (Resource Media), Moderated by Russell Sparkman

The best story, sitting on a shelf, does nothing. Simply "raising awareness" without a strategic plan will accomplish little more. How can anyone hoping to affect change through their creative work plan for success and know if they are succeeding? We'll hear from a diverse group of communication experts about how they set goals and employ metrics in their outreach efforts.

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Explore our collection of prior Collaborations for Cause videos: