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Devin D. Thorpe
Devin Thorpe

If You Took a Photo of Hope, What Would You See?

Photography can communicate feeling, emotion and even information that an infinite number of words cannot. Photographer Sarah Takako Skinner and her partner Marc Raco have created the Hope Is Project to give people who are struggling an opportunity to photograph hope.

The work that people create when they use photography to communicate hope in the face of despair can be both inspiring and informative.

Sarah tries to put words to the struggles people face today. “This is the time and place. Individuals require hope to live. The world needs hope to move forward. In this day of racism, violence, economic woes, intolerance, hunger, environmental chaos, and more, hope is an elusive notion for many. The very old, the outcasts, the terminally ill, the wounded war veterans. But how can we find hope when we need it most?”

Marc explains the program, “Through an innovative photographic concept, people with compelling stories of adversity, along with hope leaders, search for hope and photograph it. Their own ‘self portraits’ are complimented by exquisite portraits by the artist Takako. This journey commonly produces increased hopefulness and self worth along with an expanded view of the world, coupled with artful and inspiring images that show hope through their eyes. Can the simple act of searching for hope result in the very hope one seeks?”

The project is growing beyond individuals to institutions, allowing more people to participate in and benefit from the program, Sarah says. “Igniting a large conversation about hope can motivate people to explore hope in their own lives, and to initiate actions which can improve their own lives and immediate world, which can reverberate infinitely. The project’s work with individuals is expanding to human service and governmental agencies, which reflects the therapeutic and important power of hope in medicine, pain management, mental health and rehabilitation currently being increasingly researched and implemented.”

Marc Raco and Sarah Takako Skinner, courtesy of the Hope Is Project

Marc Raco and Sarah Takako Skinner, courtesy of the Hope Is Project

Sarah’s vision is to ultimately take the program nationwide. “The Hope Is Project is also developing an initiative to share stories of hope nationwide, culminating in uniting America, and sending a message to the world, in an historic and massive display of images of hope,” she concludes.

On Thursday, February 18, 2016 at 6:00 PM Eastern, Sarah and Marc will join me for a live discussion about this unique effort to photograph hope and thereby catalyze more. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes.

More about the Hope Is Project:

Twitter: @hopeisproject

Photographer Takako created the HOPE IS PROJECT as a way to understand the nature of Hope and inspire others to find it. Together we can inspire a global conversation about hope, collaborate to create real impact, healing and growth, and participate in meaningful change. With the collaboration of a team of influencers, the project seeks to place cameras in the hands of many people, challenging them to share their stories and capture images embodying hope. This will capture the continuation of Takako’s journey, and can become one of the largest and most influential art exhibits in history — true partnership between art and purpose. It is a project of transformation and impact focused on the understanding, discovery, and harnessing of the power of hope through the vehicle of an inspiring photographic process. The mission is to engage the power of photography along with a process of exploration, story-telling, and self-reflection to widely inspire hope, effect lasting and meaningful change, and contribute to growth and development in fields of social work, medicine, mental health, tolerance, rehabilitation and recovery. As we explore the nature and power of hope with scientists, mental health experts, leading spiritual figures, leaders, agencies and more, the body of images will offer displays of hope, collaborations with those who see hope as an essential resource, and the opportunity to document the journey to educate encourage our audience to explore the nature of Hope with us.

Marc Raco and Sarah Takako Skinner at Exhibit for The Hope Is Project at Social Innovation Week in NYC, courtesy of the Hope Is Project.

Marc Raco and Sarah Takako Skinner at Exhibit for The Hope Is Project at Social Innovation Week in NYC, courtesy of the Hope Is Project.

Sarah’s bio:

Twitter: @takakophoto

Sarah Takako Skinner’s focus is to use the camera lens to find the light that shines through the darkness. The technical nature of her work comes from her BFA in Photography from the University of Washington. There she learned the importance of being critical of one’s own work and to ‘never fall in love with the photograph’.

But the soul of her work comes through her survival from a rare birth defect and later her travels and adventures She can tell stories about Fiji, New Zealand, London, Peru, Madrid and Australia and many more. She can talk you through her work in Paris, backstage during fashion shows, the ins and outs of LA photographing celebrities, or her current city of New York.

And her stories are great. They’re funny, intimate, haunting, sexy tales of excitement, and more often than not, triumph through midadventures. But when the talk is over, to get the clearest perspective of who Takako is and what she means, you simply have to look at her photos. Raw, high-contrast, sharply imagined and beautiful both technically and creatively, it’s Takako’s still images that create the most motion in your mind.

You can see her influences in her approach to her art. Diane Arbus, Francesca Woodman, Guy Bourdin, Robert Frank, Cindy Sherman, Annie Lebowitz, Richard Avedon. These are the risk-takers, the rule-breakers, and the edgy personalities that drive what Takako is accomplishing in her own way.

Takako’s eye for both depth and editing has been noticed – she’s been published nationally and internationally in magazines and recently showed her work at Art Basel, Miami. She’ll smile as she flips you through the pages of photos she took of Steven Tyler at his home in LA; and can tell you with passion how she got sent to jail for her Art when she asked a woman to walk naked down Hollywood Boulevard while photographing her.

Takako also has another side to her work, which has led her to even larger goals. Her current project, the “Hope Is” Project, is about having other people, who have lived oppressed and or adverse lives, search for their hope and photograph it. The mission is to engage the power of photography along with a process of exploration, storytelling, and self-reflection to inspire hope, effect lasting and meaningful change, and contribute to growth and development in fields of social work, medicine, mental health, tolerance, rehabilitation and recovery. The project is receiving national attention for her goal of producing photographs that don’t just show her own perspective, but the perspectives of others who may not have a voice. So even though she has barely scratched the surface of her own potential artistically, Takako is using her own forged path in photography to help others find their voices as well.

Marc’s bio:

Twitter: @racomarc

New York City-based creative entrepreneur Marc Raco is a film/television producer, podcast host, actor, composer and writer, who brings more than thirty years of storytelling and media production experience along with a substantial sales and marketing background.

In addition to his role as Executive Producer for the innovative and bold transmedia project “The Hope Is Project”, Marc has been on the production side of feature and short films, commercials, parodies, infomercials, radio programs and pilot presentations—as director, producer, writer, executive producer, editor, visual effects editor, and/or musical director, winning 8 Telly Awards, amongst numerous other accolades, is the host/producer of the weekly podcast “Monkey Radio with Marc”, co-host and producer of the influential fashion and technology weekly podcast “Fashion Is Your Business”, Chief Creative Officer of Open Source Fashion, and works with menswear brand Ralph and Remington as Content and Story Producer.

As an actor, he has appeared in more than twenty five film projects, network television, commercials, parodies, television pilot presentations, more than fifty staged productions, professional improvisational comedy, and even stand-up comedy. A Rochester, NY native, Marc’s been recognized for acting as Overall World Champion (Men 25+)/multi gold-medalist in the 2005 World Championships of Performing Arts.

Marc has also written, produced, and recorded 70+ musical pieces involving 40+ musicians/singers, including film & stage production soundtracks, a full length CD, and tracks designed/used for Nortel Network’s teleconferencing system. He’s an exhibited portrait photographer, with work on permanent display in the Centennial Exhibit of Rochester Institute of Technology. He has skills in German and Sign languages, and was proclaimed by the Governor of Kentucky as a Kentucky Colonel in 2012.

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Devin D. Thorpe

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