Seeing is Believing: Our Remarkable New Storytellers

We have all heard the old sayings “seeing is believing” and “a picture is worth a thousand words.” But did you know that the human brain processes images about 60,000 times faster than text? Photos and videos have incredible power to communicate hard-to-describe situations and invoke strong emotional reactions. NGOs depend on donors’ emotional connections and desire to make a difference. For nonprofits, the power of visual storytelling is vital. 

Earlier this month, we introduced you to Classroom of Hope’s original field photographers: Simon, Geoff, and Rakhal. Now, we want to introduce you to three new extraordinary professionals. These visual storytellers have helped to take Classroom of Hope to the next level! Meet the most recent members of our creative support team below.

Shayna Pitch

Duncan and Nicola met Bali-based photographer Shayna Pitch and her husband Brandon through mutual friends in 2016. The connection was immediate. When we told them about the work we were doing in Indonesia, Shayna showed us her photography and volunteered to help. Her moving and evocative photos immediately struck us!

Shayna first came on board to document our work with the Bali Hope Ultra and Bali Children’s Foundation. With her talented eye documenting our projects in Bali, our reach grew. Shayna’s ability to tell stories through her work allowed us to really show donors our positive impact on children’s education on the island.

Thanks to Shayna’s help and the dedication of all those involved in the Bali Hope Ultra, we raised over $80,000 for children’s education!

Photo by Shayna Pitch

This year, when Classroom of Hope began our new partnership with  Scholars of Sustenance (SOS) and Social Impakt, Shayna and Brandon reached out to offer their help once again. In August, Shayna and her camera accompanied our partners to help distribute nutritious meals and water filters to vulnerable communities in Bali. The powerful portraits she took have become the face of Classroom of Hope’s fundraising campaigns  for Bali food and water aid.

With these photos and the generosity of our major donors, Classroom of Hope has been able to raise enough funds to help our partners distribute over 180,000 meals and 130 water filters!

Photo by Shayna Pitch

What made you willing to volunteer as a photographer for Classroom of Hope?

“My husband and I have lived in Bali for about 8 years now and what we love most about the island are the wonderful local people and their genuinely caring nature. We saw this collaboration as an opportunity to give back to the locals whose island has provided us with so much over the years while also helping our two amazing friends with their mission.”

Photo by Shayna Pitch

Shayna’s Brand as a Photographer

Shayna is passionate about capturing life’s authentic moments. In defining her brand, Shayna calls herself a “street portrait photographer.” She conveys the feeling of a specific location by capturing the faces, emotions, and natural beauty of its people.

See More of Shayna’s Work:

Shayna’s Instagram

Mark Harrison

Travel videographer Mark Harrison got involved with CoH in early 2019. He joined us during Project Lombok, the viral social media campaign to support Pop-Up Schools in Lombok, Indonesia.

This was Mark’s first time doing videography work for an NGO, but you wouldn’t know it. He blended in seamlessly with the team and connected immediately with the students. His work that week was instrumental in the success of the Project Lombok campaign. 

Mark’s video tugged at the heartstrings of donors across the world. His footage captured the true devastation of the earthquakes that hit the island. His storytelling focused on the strength of the children who lived through the earthquakes and their joy as they ran into their new schools. This positive focus in the face of disaster is reflected in Mark’s favorite memory of the week:

“Seeing children be children. They’re always positive, laughing and playing regardless of their situation. I love that. It’s a reminder to myself to always be grateful for what I have and not get caught up in the never-ending cyclone of wanting more.”

Video by Mark Harrison

Thanks to his work, Project Lombok didn’t just hit its fundraising goal of $104,000 – it exceeded it! Mark’s video and the support from the rest of the Project Lombok team reached all corners of the world. In the end, it resulted in almost $130,000 in donations! These funds allowed us to build 6 more earthquake-resistant Pop-Up Schools. That’s 1,160 students that were able to go back to school thanks to Mark and Project Lombok.

What made you willing to volunteer as a videographer for Project Lombok and Classroom of Hope? 

“My first impression was that CoH is very transparent and honest with their dealings. I love and trust Nicola and Duncan, which makes me trust in the purity of their vision. That impression never changed throughout the Project Lombok experience.

My perception of the project specifically only slightly altered when I realised just how much need Indonesia was truly in. It was initially hard to accept that we can only help a very small portion of children. However, it was something that I had to become okay with.”

Mark’s Brand as a Videographer  

Mark’s videos are all about telling stories. He first became a videographer at a young age by making skateboarding videos with his friends… 

“Skateboarding was eventually replaced with travel, but the desire to create permanent memories remained. I only started pursuing it professionally 4 years ago when I was a teacher abroad and realised this is something I could do as a career.”

Now, Mark is recognised as a leading travel videographer and travel influencer. His videos capture the highlights that various countries, destinations and experiences offer. He has a talent for communicating the true sense of a place through his imagery. This may have been Mark’s first experience volunteering as a videographer for an NGO, but we hope it won’t be his last!

See More of Mark’s Work

Mark’s Instagram

Mark’s Facebook

Mark’s YouTube

Manuel Gussmann

Manuel “Manu” Gussmann is the most recent photographer to join Classroom of Hope’s family. He may be new, but he has made such a strong impact in a short period of time that it feels like he’s been with us forever! Just like Mark, Manu first got involved with Classroom of Hope through Project Lombok. After a week spent photographing Pop-Up Schools, Manu says, his eyes were opened.

“It was a challenging process for me personally to realise how privileged my upbringing was. And how little I appreciated all the opportunities and resources I had in Germany. Seeing these children and their communities being happy with what they have after such a tragedy really stood out to me.”  

Photo by Manuel Gussmann

Since then, Manu has become a constant part of our CoH creative team. His photos have become the face of our Pop-Up School projects in Lombok. He has now joined us as a field photographer for school openings in Cambodia and Myanmar as well. He even expanded into videography during last year’s Lombok Ultramarathon run by Nicola and our supporter Matt Murray! 

Manu has an eye for capturing incredible and authentic moments. The stories his photos tell have grown even more powerful the longer he’s been with us. 

“I would say I have grown a lot thanks to the communities we’ve visited. I really could feel and see how globally unbalanced resources and access to education are distributed. It’s made a huge difference to me to see this firsthand, compared to the intellectual understanding of these topics I had before.”

Photo by Manuel Gussmann

What made you willing to donate your time as a photographer/videographer to CoH? 

“Since I started traveling, I’ve been interested in working with NGOs. I want to create a body of work around documentary photography, so the opportunity to work with CoH was the perfect “win/win“ situation to get started! The energy of all the people coming together to make something happen, contributing to what they are good at – funds, skills, and/or time – was incredible. 

At the end of the day, my time with Project Lombok and especially the conversations I had with Nicola and Duncan changed everything. They helped me decide to quit my job in Switzerland and take on the challenge to make a living out of photography and videography.”

Photo by Manuel Gussmann

Manuel’s Brand as a Photographer

Manu is an avid traveler and self-described “Nomadic Photographer and Videographer”. His passion is in capturing moments as they are to tell genuine stories. He loves working on purpose-driven projects. We’re lucky to have him helping us capture our impact on film! 

See more of Manuel’s Work

Manuel’s Website

Manuel’s Instagram

These three incredible visual storytellers have been more instrumental than we can express. As humans, we react more strongly to visual stimuli than words. Great photos and videos allow us to show our donors the faces of the students they can help. Through them, they can visualise their impact. Without the efforts of our visual storytellers, we would never have been able to grow into what we are today.

So, to Rakhal, Simon, Geoff, Shayna, Mark, Manu, and the other photographers and videographers that have been a part of Classroom of Hope’s projects over the years… THANK YOU. You have impacted the lives of thousands of students over the past seven years. Your legacy will live on through your photos and the difference you’ve made. We’re so grateful to have you all as part of our CoH family.

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