ManKIND Project

Every photographer needs a project. As the ‘World’s Most Helpful Photographer’ I figured I needed a project big enough (and helpful enough) to support the claim.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not!”
Dr. Seuss

What could I do? I needed inspiration. Chris Guillebeau has been a wonderful source of motivation to me, so I rolled around his blog like a dog extracting every last essence of fragrance from a pungent clump of turf.

Chris Guillebeau has travelled to every country on earth on a shoe string. How very ambitious, I thought.

I loved the premise of ‘every country on earth’, but I wanted to create a helpful project, too.

‘Helpful’….. ….’every country on earth’.

I kept trying to ignore the spectacularly obvious notion of ‘helping someone from every country on earth’. After all there are 196 countries, depending on who you ask.

Years went passed and the idea wouldn’t leave me alone. I decided I could ignore my niggling subconscious no more. So here goes, as of 13/7/13 – I’m officially going to do a random act of kindness for someone from every country on earth. Here's where I'm up to so far.

Here are the ground rules:
  1. People don’t have to live in the country of origin as this gets me around the rather eco-unfriendly (and financially unfriendly!) issue of travelling to every country on the planet. My rule is, if you could play football for the national team then that’s good enough for me! Ideally you’ll be in or near Peterborough, but you don’t have to be.
  2. I’m going with this interpretation of the number of countries in the world.
  3. ‘Helping’ can mean lots of things. It doesn’t have to be photography related. I’m open to suggestions – see below.
  4. I’d like a photo of everyone I help so I have a portfolio of my project. Ideally I’d like to be able to create the photo, but if you’re on the other side of the world that may not be possible, unless I can do a Skype Screen-grab with you!

Ways I can help you, completely free of charge (please feel free to add suggestions)
  • Charity work. Do you run or support a charity I could help? Again, this project is about helping someone from every country on earth, so either you or the charity needs to represent a country I’ve not helped yet.
  • Family portrait session. I’ll offer a free portrait session and £100 print credit!
  • Photographs of your business
  • Photography training session
  • Advice on starting or promoting your photography business
  • Copywriting. I’ve been a copywriter since 1995 and written for CNN’s travel website, so if you need help writing anything from a web page to a job application I’ll be able to help and point you towards some great resources.
  • Odd jobs. Do you know someone who’s no-longer able to mow their lawn or clean up their house easily? I could help. Just don’t ask me to do any DIY – I’m terrible at it!
  • I’m open to suggestions, so get in touch with any ideas you have. Of course I reserve the right to refuse – I’m not about to help you instigate a military coup!

I need your suggestions
Here’s how you can help. All I need are the following:

  • Someone you feel I should help, including you. There doesn’t have to be a particularly good reason (although it’s better if there is) – you might just need a lift to work.
  • Ideas for how I could help people, either in general or for a specific situation you have in mind.
  • Do you know someone from an exotic country? Let me know.

I’m happy to travel to help people, particularly if the thing I’m helping them with is important, or interesting, or quirky, or photographically intriguing. I’m based in Peterborough in the UK.

Why am I doing this?
One look at the first few pages of any newspaper tells you that the world is full of some terrible horrors. One of the issues that concerns me is the growing regression back to bigotry. I’ve travelled all over the world and there are some fantastic people in every country I’ve visited. My ‘Helpful Project’ is my own little way of making a stand and saying that there are still many people who embrace all cultures.

Meeting people with roots all over the world is an incredible education and privilege. And as a photographer it’s a stunning opportunity to create a portfolio of portraits that has never been attempted before.

I love the ‘random act of kindness’ concept too. We’re all guilty of being a bit self-absorbed - just sit on a London tube for five minutes and look around. I want to finally do my bit to smile at the world and do the only thing I know how to make it a tiny bit better – help people. It’s a drop in the ocean, but the ocean is made up of trillions of drops.

Check out my gallery of photos and stories behind the people and countries I've connected with so far.