Taking Pictures, Changing Lives

Taking Pictures, Changing Lives

In last week’s issue we spoke to photographer Adam Dickens. His organisation, Taking Pictures, Changing Lives, uses photography to help change the fortunes of charities.

Adam worked with Book Bus, our partners in our Hand of Friendship campaign, earlier this year. It’s his fantastic photos you’ve been seeing with our regular updates.

We had a fascinating chat — we spoke for about half an hour.

Naturally there’s only so much of that information that you can squeeze on to the final page, so I thought I’d share some bits of the interview that we just didn’t have room for.

Adam spoke to me about seeing the tangible benefits of the work he’s done. I wondered if — unlike aid workers, who see their efforts having immediate results — Adam has to wait longer to see the impact.

Taking Pictures, Changing Lives

Photograph by Adam Dickens.

Adam makes sure to keep close contact with the charities he’s worked with, but it’s through his efforts to recruit local photographers that he really sees the difference in their lives.

“I keep active on keeping up with the charities. You asked how we choose the charities and this is what it’s about. It’s finding charities that are going to make the most of the photos, rather than just using them once or twice on Instagram.

“That’s not why we do it. We want to be able to raise bigger amounts of money.

“And it’s not just having a financial impact on the charities; it’s having a massive impact on the lives [of the local photographers], because they are from poor backgrounds.”

taking pictures, changing lives

Photograph by Adam Dickens.

As word spreads of Adam’s work, he’s finding that the photographers and the work come to him.

“Yes, so far it’s been people coming to me. Same with the charities — it’s all come to me.

“We did a trip in 2016 in Rwanda, working for a charity called the Grow Movement.

They have professionals in the country that they partner with a similar business in Africa, then they do Skype training over a 6 month period.

So I do a Skype call every week. and they help the charity grow, basically.

“Whilst I was there, someone said, ‘I’ve got these friends who are photographers, can they come and just follow you around for a day?’

“So they did, and I ended up going back to Rwanda the following year and spending four days with them talking about what I wanted to do in the future.

“They have got the same mind-set as me. They want to use their skills and they want to earn money. But their priority is making a difference.”

Taking Pictures, Changing Lives

Photograph by Adam Dickens.

Sadly, we didn’t have space to talk about Emily in the printed article. She works with Adam in the UK.

“Emily does a couple of days a month, and she’s a copywriter.  I will talk to her for an hour about a trip, and she will go away and make it sound good! I’m not a words person, but she is.

“Even her life has changed because of this.

“I got some commercial work from a charity, and she was working for that charity. I took her to Tanzania, India and Sri Lanka.

“Now she has left that charity and is heading up international development for a big charity working all over the world!”

Catch the full article in our October 26 issue, on sale now!

Read more about Taking Pictures, Changing Lives here.

Alex Corlett

Alex is the "Friend's" Features Editor, working with the talented Features Team to bring you everything from cryptic crosswords to financial advice, knitting patterns to international travel and inspirational real life stories. Always on the hunt for a new feature idea, Alex also enjoys cycling and loves a good tea room.