#STORY11 :: Esther Havens

Esther Havens is a Humanitarian Photographer. She captures stories that transcend a person’s circumstances and reveal their true strength. For many years she has worked on social-awareness campaigns with organizations such as charity: water, TOMS Shoes, Concern Worldwide and A Glimmer of Hope. Her images compel thought and challenge action. She has traveled to over 45 nations in the last 10 years—and she’ll keep going until she sees that every person on the planet has access to education and clean drinking water. At heart, she is a connector, fostering relationships across continents, cultures, industries and perspectives. While not traveling, Esther calls Austin, Texas home.

 

  • Why was I created?
  • I was in this village one night when it hit me. God told me that he had created me for a purpose.
  • I went to India one time and shot some pictures, and realized that I was called to be a photographer. So I went and studied photography.
  • But I wanted to go for the big ones. National Geographic. Pulitzer Prize.
  • The key as a photographer is to not become part of the story. Just shoot the photos.
  • So I had an opportunity to go to Africa.
  • Then I had an opportunity to go to Congo.
  • I never connected with the people.
  • Then I took a photo of a little African kid, and
  • Then I came home and said that I would never take another photo unless it changed me as a photographer.
  • Then I got an opportunity to document the water tragedy in Africa.
  • I started listening.
  • When I arrived in the village and felt like something was going to be said to me.
  • Who we are is not our circumstance.
  • Am I who my circumstance is?
  • I was viewing people as their circumstance, not as who God saw them as.
  • I went to this next village and did something different. It was the first time I got down below someone and looked up at them.
  • God sees beauty.
  • The light shines upon them. So I took my strobe and told them to look at it.
  • I let my camera not get in the way of myself and the people. I talked to them and got to know them.
  • I got to see the village going from drinking nasty water and then getting clean water and rejoicing with them.
  • His story brought water to more villages.
  • I wasn’t helpless to help anymore. I could do something with what I do.
  • I could take people’s photos and bring them back and use them to change other people.
  • Then biggest lesson I learned in those years, was that I was missing connection. I didn’t want to get involved. It takes a lot to get involved. I have to be vulnerable to get involved.
  • We are so quick to create a persona of someone that isn’t really them.
  • Even if I didn’t have language I can connect with laughter.
  • This is what I’ve learned.
  • We have moments with people that pass really quickly. If we don’t seize the moment, it can pass us by.
  • Are we taking the time to listen to people’s stories? Listening is a form of live. If we are going to love people we need to listen.
  • Our lives get so busy. But that engaging person to person is so important. People feel valued when they are engaged.

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