Outreach Spotlight: Blue Earth Alliance – Collaborations for Cause



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.

Blue Earth believes that environmental and cultural documentary photographs and films can educate the public and inspire positive change. They also help support visual storytelling and collaborations with our annual conference.



Collaborations for Cause (C4C) 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.


PhotoWings is honored to continue our partnership with Blue Earth Alliance.
Collaborations for Cause (C4C) 2017 was held May 5-6 in Seattle, Washington.

Explore by year:

The Power of Partnerships

Speakers: Annie Griffiths, Art Wolfe, Mustafah Abdulaziz, Poulomi Basu, Helen Cherullo, Tom Costanza, Benj Drummond, Gary Halpern, Roberto Hernandez, Dan Lamont, Jay Lyman, Phil Manzano, Mercy Mason, Tim Matsui, Bryan Monroe, David Moskowitz, Thomas Patterson, Melissa Ryan, Mary Virginia Swanson, Richard Visick, Jon Warren

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Innovations in Visual Storytelling for Impact

Speakers: Louie Schwartzberg, Russell Sparkman, Romeo Durscher, David Patton, Kaylyn Messer, Greg Constantine, Jeff Cappella, Tim Greyhavens, Nicole Donaghy, Bruce Farnsworth, Tom Kennedy, Sara Joy Steele, Benj Drummond, Kristie Mclean, Sara Terry, Amy Benson, Scott Squire, Dr. Julia Parrish, Alasdair Turner, Daniel Beltrá

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2017 Presentations


Louie Schwartzberg - Learning Through Gratitude

Daniel Beltrá - Changing Perspectives

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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.

Daniel Beltrá

Born in Madrid, Spain, Daniel Beltrá is a photographer based in Seattle, Washington. Daniel is known for his large scale environmental photography, shot from the air. Over the past two decades, Beltrá’s work has taken him to all seven continents, including several expeditions to the Brazilian Amazon, the Arctic, the Southern Oceans and the Patagonian ice fields. For his work on the Gulf Oil Spill, in 2011 he received the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award and the Lucie Award for the International Photographer of the Year - Deeper Perspective.

Tom Kennedy - Using Collaboration to Make Impactful Change

Visual communication is increasingly powerful in today's world as a language. Yet at the same time, it is too often under appreciated and underutilized by organizations as a tool for building bridges of connection within audiences to stories that resonate and incite positive change. Tom Kennedy discusses the elements needed in a collaboration process to use this language effectively and how organizations can ensure their teams create strong visual messaging.

Tim Greyhavens – Aligning Photography and Philanthropy to Tell Your Story

Great photographers have attracted inspired philanthropists since the earliest days of the art. The two are a natural match: photographers need funding to tell their stories, and philanthropy needs photographers to show why their funding matters. But what makes a story compelling enough to make someone want to give money so the story will be told? In this session, foundation director and photographer Tim Greyhavens will share his experience in navigating the sometimes confusing yet rewarding world of fundraising for a photographic project. Whether you’re approaching a foundation, a government agency, an individual or an online audience, you’ll find something in this talk that will help you understand the buzzwords, processes, politics and personalities of philanthropy.

A Different Ending: When Documentary filmmaking and Non-Profit Messaging Conflict – Amy Benson and Scott Squire 

Scott Squire and Amy Benson, a married documentary team, traveled to Nepal to make promotional piece for an NGO that provides scholarships for girls to go to school. When tragedy befell one of the girls’ they filmed, they were compelled to unearth the deeper story—one that was at odds with the NGO’s messaging. What is the media maker’s responsibility when the story they find is not what they were sent to document? .

The Power of Story: Building Bridges and Advocacy for Obstetric Fistula – Kristie McLean

After years of profiling global issues such as unexploded ordnances, child brides and water scarcity, Kristie McLean traveled to Ethiopia in 2010 to learn about the childbirth injury Obstetric Fistula. Horrified by the preventable suffering of women and girls, she realized quickly that photography wasn’t enough. Kristie has created relationships and ongoing solutions with key stakeholders for fistula patients’ empowerment and self-sufficiency. She hopes her efforts will inspire others to be willing to move beyond intended projects and leverage the greatest medium of all: the heart.

Feeding Your Beasts: Distribution in Social and Digital Media Platforms – David Patton

Don’t think of the preponderance of social and digital media platforms as a burden. They are an opportunity to tell your story in slightly different ways and reach diverse audiences – if you factor them in when you are in the creating phase.

Head, Heart or Gut? Making Science Matter to Coastal Communities – Julia K Parrish

Julia Parrish is centered on the intersection between marine ecology, conservation and resource management, and how non-experts and non-scientists can be involved in documenting pattern, collecting baseline information and being an essential part of a science team. She runs a large citizen science project, the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team, or COASST. They use beach-cast marine birds as one indicator of coastal ecosystem health. Their data speaks to conservation issues as diverse as harmful algal blooms, climate forcing, fishery impacts, and oil spills.

Image Testing: What They See Matters – Jeff Cappella

Does a photo “say” to you what it says to the viewers you’re trying to reach or inspire? If an image is inspirational for you upon close consideration, will it be so for someone giving it just a quick glance online? It helps to test our photos with eyes beyond our own, and in recent years Resource Media has been testing images in non-profit advocacy communications with audiences in-person and online, in research settings and real-world campaigns. In this presentation we will share some of the findings that have emerged repeatedly and also share tips for doing image-testing, an area of increasing interest for non-profits today.

Raising Awareness: Visual Stories of Science – Alasdair Turner

Telling scientific stories through photography requires a different approach than many other types of visual storytelling. Science is based on experimental results and observations. Personal biases and scientific inaccuracies are minimized by the use of peer review. Photographers looking to tell the story of scientific research must strive to tell the science as accurately as possible while still presenting compelling images. Alasdair Turner will present examples from his current project on Antarctic science to illustrate how to raise awareness of important scientific work using photos that accurately represent scientific work while still keeping the viewer engaged through compelling imagery.

Drones for Good – Romeo Durscher

Romeo's presentation will take the audience into the skies, showcasing how this technology has already impacted and helped all over the world. It will include stories of how humanitarian organizations are using drones, how post-disaster aerial projects have helped entire villages in Nepal after the earthquake and how a single quadcopter can save elephants. In his fun and entertaining presentation Romeo will also take the crowd into Son Doong, the World’s largest cave in Vietnam, giving a glimpse into this fascinating area from the viewpoint of a drone. Romeo will also be available for one-on-one conversations and breakout sessions during the two days of the event.


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 past Collaborations for Cause videos: