The following is a guest post by Patrick Moreau of Stillmotion:
As image makers, we know the power a photo can have. Whether in the context of a wedding, a magazine ad, or even a simple a snapshot of your kids when they weren’t expecting it; the emotional effect of a photograph can be all-encompassing. Worth a thousand words, as they say. But can a photograph change the lives of thousands of people around the world?
Was that a resounding YES? Great! I mean, we wouldn't be here if we didn't believe in the power of the frame! But what's happening right now, today, in our backyards and in the backyards of thousands of people worldwide, is something quite remarkable. How often do you come across something that is truly inspiring? This is something that is within our reach and within the reach of our children.
It started just a little bit over a year ago, with a framed print on a gallery wall in Northern California. In the photo, two 9-year-old Nepali boys stand side by side, holding hands, a huge slab of slate tied to each of their heads. The boulder sized rocks are a product that these boys are tasked with transporting. Without pay. Two 9-year-old boys, reduced to vehicles. Slaves.
It was in seeing this photo that made 9-year-old Vivienne Harr of Fairfax, California realize that child slavery exists. Today.
Vivienne was appalled. These boys were her age; how could this happen? Vivienne was inspired to do something about it. So she did the only thing she knew how; she set up a lemonade stand. And even more remarkably, her inspiration moved through her community like wildfire. Soon after, with the support of people everywhere, she was donating tens of thousands of dollars of proceeds to organizations that free enslaved children around the world. Within less than a year, her lemonade stand had freed 500 slaves!
We reached out to Vivienne and her family, thinking it would make a great 3 to 5 minute film about what they were doing together. After all, they had a great message: anyone can make a difference! What began as a short vignette that would take a weekend to create turned into a feature-length documentary, over 100 shoot days, across 4 continents!
There was so much richness to the story of Vivienne's family, the organizations involved in the fight on the ground, and even the acclaimed humanitarian photographer, Lisa Kristine, who shot the original photograph of the Nepali brothers. Anything less wouldn’t have done the story justice.
This brings us to today.
February 1st, 2014 is National Freedom Day, and we plan to celebrate it — not just here at home, but across the globe in countless cities. On February 1st, 1865, Abraham Lincoln signed the resolution to abolish slavery in the United States. Slavery was a thing of the past... or so we thought.
Today, countless inspired, creative, and determined people are uniting globally to celebrate freedom, to mark the day with actions to remember, and to encourage others to do the same. We need to remember that the everyday choices we make really do matter.
This Saturday you have the opportunity to join photographers across the globe in celebration of National Freedom Day – InstaMeets hosts are organizing gatherings for anyone to stand in celebration, in any city, on any continent. These events have the combined social following of millions, and each celebration will be a unique experience with it’s own special flavor.
The Stillmotion team will be at Ocean Beach, in San Francisco with Vivienne and her family to celebrate freedom at the SF meetup. Marshall Davis Jones will be performing an original spoken word piece specifically written in commemoration of National Freedom Day. Top Instagrammers like @Moneal and @JayZombie caught wind of the occasion and will personally be at the meetup to join in making this a worldwide event. As a part of the festivities, we’ll be hosting a midnight screening at the Balboa Theater in San Fran of the #standwithme film – free to everyone who comes out to our San Francisco meet-up! The first two screenings are sold out – so this midnight screening is an awesome chance to come and join in the fun and share the film.
At Ocean Beach you can expect to find anything from pastries and lemonade to kites and ultimate frisbee. What can you expect in Stockholm, Hong Kong, and the other cities participating? We'll just have to wait and see on Instagram! #standwithme
One photo is all it took. It inspired a girl, who inspired some filmmakers, who inspired some friends, who are all standing together today. Standing for freedom.
One photo is all it took to start a movement which has freed hundreds if not thousands of slaves.
To all photographers: Stand proud. There is amazing power, integrity, and magic in what you do.
To see how you can participate in the meet-ups on National Freedom Day:
To purchase tickets for the premiere of #standwithme in your city: