You know, people don't often say this, but I'm gonna. My life is pretty amazing. And yours probably is too. Yup. It's true. My life is charmed beyond measure. And if you're reading this, I'll bet, probably, so is yours.
If you're like me, it's easy to forget this. But it's real. Even with my middle-class problems, I am so lucky. So beyond fortunate.
I move through the world with ease, largely free from prejudice and fear. I have advantages unknown and inconceivable to most of humanity. I don’t fear my son getting murdered for the colour of his skin. I don’t have to face the terror of losing my world to a bomb blast. I don’t worry too much about clean water. I don't even give a thought to where my next meal will come from.
This house, these children, these responsibilities, these messes, these are all blessings. The difficulties in deciding just what school is the very most absolute perfect school for my child; or the annoyance of a broken oven that a parade of repair men can't fix; the sardine-can commute on the subway with two small children; the injustice of the landlord indifferent to the piddling water pressure in the shower: these things that I struggle with are a testament to my audacious good luck.
I might for a moment, feel aggrieved at the infinite and insignificant slights that the world throws my way. Yet, if I reflect on it, if I allow a little perspective through, I can see that the petty slings and arrows of everyday life are the gifts of my outrageous fortune.
There’s never been a better time to live in the Western world than now. But us privileged few are awash in fear, and the tide is moving away from reason and towards xenophobia. Like, can we just talk for a moment about Brexit and the real possibility of a Trump presidency? Can we talk about how the acts of a very, tiny, infinitesimal few crazy men with a religion different to ours trick us into believing the world is against us and that we must close borders, seal up our privilege, drop bombs, and declare war?
I want to stand up and shout NO. I don’t accept that.
I believe in goodness, in love, in giving, in helping those who need help.
So, I’m asking you to join me. Give. Give what you can to those who were not born into privilege of middle class problems. Give to those whose lives are so much worse than yours.
I’m teaming up with Shoot For Charity, a movement organised by Rebecca Viveash in response to last year’s refugee crisis in Europe. I’m giving all my time in August to support people fleeing from hunger and war, violence and persecution. I’m supporting people whose most audacious dream is to live a life with my middle-class problems.
I’m donating all of my session fees for the entire month of August to the UNHCR. So, here's the deal: make a donation to the UNHCR. Pay what you can, and I’ll do a full family shoot for you.
Here's how to join me.
1. Send me an email and book a shoot in August. firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Pay what you can. My session fee is 3000 CNY. If you can give that, please do. If you can’t, get in touch anyway, and we can work something out. I want you to give what you’re able.
3. In lieu of paying my session fee, send a charitable donation to the UNCHR (for the international donation page go here, or if you're from the US and want to make a tax-deductible donation, go here.)
4. Forward me your receipt as proof of payment.
5. I’ll shoot a full family session for you and your loves. We’ll work for about an hour or two. Within two weeks, you’ll receive an online gallery of your images, plus a stack of digital files with full print rights in high and low resolution. Expect about 70+ images.
As for the small print, I'll retain copyright of the images, and I'll ask you to sign a model release. I'll also retain the rights to use the images to share on my social media platforms as well as with Shoot for Charity.
If you can’t swing a donation right now, you can still help. Share this post with your friends in Shanghai. Help me get the word out. Let’s all pull together. Love wins. Giving helps.