First Person

The power of photography in 2009

Posted by

As a writer, I’m the biggest word fan there is–but I also appreciate the power of photography as a means for making an instant emotional connection. Beginning with the stunning Rankin photos from the Democractic Republic of the Congo that we highlighted in the January 2009 issue of our magazine, OXFAMExchange, it seemed like photography really came to the forefront this year, especially as a way to tell stories about the people behind our work. On that note, here are a few (very subjective) picks for my favorite Oxfam images from the year.

Loko Dadacha photo by Eva-Lotta Jansson / Oxfam America

Many unforgettable images come to mind when I think of my trip to Ethiopia earlier this year, but I especially like this portrait of Loko Dadacha, one of the most extraordinary people I met during my visit. You can really sense the great strength–physical and emotional–of this widow and mother of six from Gutu Dobi, Ethiopia, who is helping to lead her community during a time of ongoing drought.

Saving circle, Mali. Photo by Rebecca Blackwell / Oxfam America

Women from the Banakoro, Mali, village Saving for Change group–dubbed Sabougnuma, or “good deed”–hold their weekly meeting. I like how this colorful photo really captures the community spirit of the savings groups, where women work together to help each other save money and start small businesses.

Shorbanu Khatun photo by Oxfam

The power of speaking out comes through in this image of Shorbanu Khatun, one of Oxfam’s “climate witnesses,” who testified before world leaders at the Copenhagen UN talks about the effects of climate change on her community in Bangladesh.

Human Countdown photo by Kate Vacanti / Oxfam America

And a different kind of speaking out comes through in Kate Vacanti’s photos of Oxfam’s Human Countdown event in September in New York City, when over 1,000 people turned out in Central Park to call for climate justice. Whenever I look at this photo I remember the energy in the air that day, and the amazing feeling of all these different people coming together for the same reason.

What photos–Oxfam or otherwise–inspired you this year? Share your selections in the comments field. Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Google+