Photographer’s personal project leads to nonprofit launch
A passionate voice
“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” So says portrait photographer David Peters, M.Photog.Cr., F-ASP, when describing his inspirations for founding Passion Voice, a faith-based nonprofit dedicated to promoting charitable causes related to the abuse of children. Peters founded Passion Voice after traveling to Fortaleza, Brazil, with Iris Global, a Christian missionary organization.
In Fortaleza, Iris operates a program aimed at breaking the cycle of addiction, abuse, and prostitution that plagues the city’s large at-risk youth population. Set along the northeast coast of Brazil, Fortaleza is a recognized destination for sex tourism and child prostitution. In communities like the Oitão Preto Favela, where Iris operates a program, 95 percent of the children will be physically or sexually abused, according to one Brazilian government study. This discouraging situation is set within the context of a nation with more than 500,000 documented child prostitutes—though some estimates put the number much higher.
After traveling to Fortaleza and connecting with the people there, Peters was determined to help the cause as substantially as possible. He began work on a documentary film project titled “From Heartbreak to Heaven,” which became the central undertaking for Passion Voice. The film chronicles the work of the missionaries in Oitão Preto as well as the stories of heartbreak and inspiration lived by the people of the Favela.
Passion Voice has led Peters to pursue a series of speaking engagements and to undertake ongoing work on documentary images and films. He set up an Indiegogo campaign to raise $25,000 in funds and has continued fundraising and organizational efforts through personal appearances and partnerships with other like-minded organizations. The primary goal for Passion Voice is to complete the filming of a full-length documentary and then use that film to build awareness and raise funds. Money generated by the film will go toward the establishment of a safe house near Fortaleza, where children can escape the dangerous situations in which they live.
“This whole project was born from a desire to contribute, to do something valuable,” says Peters. “I wanted to tell the transformational stories of people who changed their path, and use those stories to inspire others.”
Passion Voice has not only made Peters an in-demand speaker but also led to growth in his portrait photography business. As he travels for speaking engagements and film promotions, Peters has connected with an entirely new clientele that has helped catapult his portrait business to greater heights. While stressing that charitable projects should be undertaken for charity’s sake, Peters acknowledges the secondary benefits of connecting with like-minded people.
“It’s a great way to connect heart to heart with another individual,” he says. “When you share the same values, there’s an immediate connection.” Peters points out that any dedicated professional photographer can do something similar. You don’t need to have decades of experience, just the desire to do some good and connect with others who support the same causes. “Anyone can do this,” he says.
“Just align with an established charity, give a talk, donate some images, give away some sessions, offer your talents to help an organization in some way. When you can connect with people over a shared empathy, a shared passion, those partnerships can lead to wonderful things.”
Jeff Kent is the editor-at-large of Professional Photographer.