What if you could have a hand in solving some of the world’s most vexing problems? And what if you didn’t need to leave your couch to do it? Turns out, we all have a powerful tool for change right in the palm of our hands!

It may not feel like you’re changing the world when you’re sharing a compelling photo online, but, you really are!

Photographers are out there capturing what’s happening around the world. Because of their efforts — the long hours, the travel, the interviews, perfect shots, and sometimes dangerous environments — we’re able to see realities that exist thousands of miles from our own. And the more one of their images circulates, the more people will see it. And the more people who see it, the more its impact grows.

By supporting and sharing the work of people documenting what’s happening in the world, you’re contributing to big change. Having trouble believing this? Read on for an example of how sharing photographs has already changed the lives of millions!

Image: Photo taken by Lewis Hine of two young girls working at the cotton mill.

A photo from the series that helped end child labor in the United States.
Two of the “helpers” in the Tifton Cotton Mill, Tifton, Ga. They work regularly. Location: Tifton, Georgia.
Source: Lewis Hine // Library of Congress

Sharing photos makes a difference.

In fact, photographs are exactly what helped child labor end in the United States.

Lewis Hine went all over the country, documenting children working deep in coal mines, mills, canning factories, selling newspapers, and shucking oysters for long, treacherous days. As a result of his work, millions of voices were heard and the problem seen in its full scope. The workers and their stories became real to the world. And that was a time when “sharing” an image had a tiny fraction of the potential we have today.

Madison Horne wrote this about Hine in an article for History.com:

“His goal was to open the public’s eyes to the exploitative nature of children’s employment, and to help ignite legislative change to end these abusive practices. Although the effects weren’t immediate, the appalling scenes he captured with his camera succeeded in drawing attention to the plight of children in the workforce.”

This great video from Vox’s series, Darkroom, lets us dive in to see what really made his images have such a big impact.

Via: Vox 1
Vox‘s series, Darkroom, takes a unique angle on history by diving into it one photo at a time. See more great content like this video by visiting this full playlist of the series!
And make sure you check out Madison Horne’s article for History if you’d like to learn more about how child labor was abolished in the United States. Click here to read!

A powerful tool for change.

As we’ve seen with the end of child labor in the United States, the camera is a powerful tool for change. The images captured through the lens connect us to one another, even if our day to day realities are very different. They help concepts, well, click.

Suddenly, with imagery, what’s happening across the world, deep in the oceans, or out in space becomes real for us.

The immensity of the child labor problem went unseen by most people until Hine’s portfolio of work was shown and shared. Just as the impacts of climate change or litter can’t really be felt by all of us until we see a photo of starving polar bears, receding glaciers, seahorses holding Q-tips or beaches riddled with plastic.

By sharing these photos, we’re spreading the news of what’s happening in the world and amplifying the potential for change and huge progress.

So go ahead, share what you care about. If there’s an image that strikes you, show your friends. Every bit makes a difference. The more that we know about what’s happening—the more that we can see it, through a photographer’s lens, the more informed decisions we can make. Without their work, we’re in the dark.

You can see the impact this can have with the format some organizations use for their work!

For example, organizations like SeaLegacy, who are working towards healthy oceans, and Litterati, who are tackling our growing litter problem, are using photographs to make the difference. And it’s working! We’ve written articles about what they’ve been doing, check them out below!

20 minutes

SeaLegacy: Celebrating Our Oceans and Saving Our Future

If we were waiting for just the right organization to lead us all to a better future, they may have arrived! Here's how we bring people together to celebrate and save some of the planet's most precious resources. Take a look!

Read More

8 minutes

Litterati: Connecting Us All and Changing Paradigms!

Have you heard of the amazing social media project that can eliminate litter from our planet? It's bringing together ordinary people, brands, governments and the power of big data--all with a novel artistic magnetism!

Read More
So, the next time you go to click the share button, know that you’re contributing to a dialogue that can lead to big change. Of course, it may not be immediate. But someone’s bound to see your post, right? That’s one more person carrying the knowledge. Who knows what will happen next!
Stay open to new possibilities!
  • Sam

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” —Albert Einstein 

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  1. Vox. “These Photos Ended Child Labor in the US.” YouTube, Vox, 28 June 2019, www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddiOJLuu2mo&feature=youtu.be. Accessed 29 Aug. 2019.

Sam has written and edited hundreds of articles since joining the EWC team in 2016. She writes about topics from the wonders of nature to the organizations changing the world and the simple joys in life! Outside of the EWC office, she’s a part-time printmaker, collector of knick-knacks, and taster of cheeses.