Creating Meaningful Change through Photography
Yasser Alaa Mobarak lives in Egypt as an AYV program alumni and a 2014 AYV Awards Photo Essay Judge. He has been a contributing photographer to PBS NewsHour and has won photography awards from The International Federation of Photographic Art, National Geographic Egypt, Photographic Society of America and Youth Journalism International. You can find more of his work in his Flickr gallery here.
Photography is a powerful tool that captures not only moments, but can spread ideas and create meaningful change. While I have worked with digital media for many years, it wasn’t until the Egyptian Revolution in 2011 that I first picked up a camera and started to pursue a career in photography. At the time, I was angry with the local media for misrepresenting the facts of what was really happening in my country. I soon realized that I had the power to share the truth and make a positive impact through my photography. It became my personal mission to photograph the truth and share it with the world.
Creating a meaningful and positive impact doesn’t just involve documenting events, it can be something as simple as spreading joy and hope within a community. One of my favorite projects has been through the non-profit, Help- Portrait, an organization that helps photographers to share their skills in their local community through pro-bono work. One of the main initiatives of the program is to provide portraits for people and families who normally wouldn’t be able to afford them. I believe that the value of capturing these moments is priceless and I enjoy bringing this happiness and meaning into the lives of the people I photograph.
As I continue to use photography to share my voice, spread ideas and create change, I’ve noticed that others are doing the same. This year I had the honor to participate in the AYV Awards as a judge of the Photo Essay category. I was amazed by the extremely talented pieces of artwork that share a unique vision for making a positive impact in the world. One of my favorite pieces was Privileged because it presented a powerful message about poverty in a simple and direct way. I look forward to seeing the winner announcements on June 16th. It gives me great hope to see others using digital tools such as photography to share their voice for the purpose of making the world a better place. I encourage all photographers young and old to define success not by the awards you receive or the places you’ve been, but by putting yourself out there, creating change through your work.