Have you ever been on an adventure? I’m talking about the out of your comfort zone, see the world, change people’s lives-style REAL adventure? 16 years ago I set out to travel the world on a big ol’ ship for 100 days and met the people who would inspire me more than anyone ever had before..or has since. I got on board, knowing no one and having very little ambition in my heart. Being surrounded by strangers who came from every corner of the earth meant I was suddenly in the presence of people with the sort of dreams and plans I’d never even thought to think of.
The very first day as I wandered around aimlessly trying to figure out if I had made a huge mistake by taking this trip, one at a time, a group of people all came into my world like a magnetic force. It may have been less obvious at the time, but in my memories, it is like walking in slow motion and having the perfect travel companions just come out of nowhere and end up by my side with no questions asked.
One of those people, those beautiful, adventure seeking people, was my friend Tracie Williams. My Trace Face. She was one of the most dynamic, bad-mo-fo-dancin’ women I’ve ever met and was one of the most important figures from my trip and in my permanent memories. I’ve only seen her once since 1997, a thought that just about rips my heart out. But that distance hasn’t stopped her from being by far one of the most inspirational photographers that I could ever be honored to put on my 31 Days of Photographers That Inspire list.
I stole this from her Facebook page by Stephen O’Byrne being the most perfect Tracie picture I’ve ever seen.
Tracie is a superhero in a small package, fighting against social injustice. She is a social documentary photographer living in NYC who is capturing life with her camera in a way that no other photographers that I know are doing. Her family portraits don’t have Etsy props. They have stories of survival.
She spent two years living in Laos documenting the impact of the CIA led Secret War waged on Laos by the unexploded bombs from a war that ended 30 years ago that continue to kill around 300 people annually.
Lone – 47 years old – was injured as a boy in 1979 when he found a canister
containing cluster bombs filled with white phosphorus. Lone’s belt is made
from UXO. Savannakhet Province, Laos
In 2004, Soung lost both his arms when a cluster munition exploded while
attempting to collect the scrap metal for a lucrative profit. He has now lost
his eyesight and considers himself a burden on his wife and five children.
Xieng Khouang Province, Laos.
The Ban Advocates are an international group of cluster munition survivors,
who – supported by Handicap International – work together to advocate for
the Cluster Munition Convention within their own countries and
Most recently her courage took her to the streets of NYC to spend a year documenting Occupy Wallstreet. She has a brilliant, first hand story to tell and though her kickstarter campaign ended up just slightly shy of her goal, she’ll be launching it again to get her book, Love and Rage, published. You can help by spreading the word of this passionate story when the time comes around again.
Tracie Williams lives with her camera untouched by fear, exposing us to a world most people close their eyes to. It doesn’t get more inspirational than that.
Be sure to check out the rest of my 31 Days of Photographers that Inspire!