Photographers Share Art to Benefit Humanitarian Relief in Ukraine

Group hopes powerful images will raise funds.

John Stanmeyer photo "Wadi Hafeer," 2014

John Stanmeyer / "Wadi Hafeer," 2014

A collective of international photographers hopes their work will help the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.

The nonprofit organization Images for Humanity includes photographers, curators, and other industry professionals offering their art to help people in crisis. The group launched a print sale featuring photos from 100 photographers with all proceeds benefiting the Ukrainian Red Cross.

The images include nature and wildlife, still life, and snapshots of daily life all over the world.

Co-founder, photographer Max Hirshfeld and curator Allyson Torrisi, deputy director of photography at People, spoke with Treehugger about the collection and the organization.

Treehugger: What was the impetus behind launching the nonprofit group? What is your goal?

Max Hirshfeld: Though we all watched the military buildup on Ukraine’s eastern front, the shock of the actual invasion turned to anger and frustration quickly. As my co-founder Andy Anderson said, “I was sitting at home one evening trying to process the news when I realized I had something that could be a strong tool to use in exchange for funds to aid the desperation in Ukraine playing out in front of us every day; namely, powerful art in the form of a photograph that someone could frame and hang on their wall. And if I was ready to help, I knew it wouldn’t be hard to get others on board to bring this to life.” Our goal is to raise in the range of $200,000 to $300,000, with all profits going to the Ukrainian Red Cross.

Andy Anderson / "Mock Charge," 2007

Andy Anderson / "Mock Charge," 2007

Why did you create a sale with proceeds specifically going to help Ukrainian relief?

Hirshfeld: It’s fairly easy for most of us to write a check and send it off to a range of charities. But since this war is far and away the most documented in history, it didn’t take long to connect the dots and get this effort underway.

Why do you think photography resonates with people in times like this?

Hirshfeld: If you consider that it is almost 200 years since the first photograph was made, virtually every person on the planet has seen a photograph and most likely been moved by its content. Though we can become numbed by the sheer quantity of images bombarding us daily, the atrocities of war can still be best described through photography. To most of us who have dedicated our careers to the pursuit of moving people through the still image, we felt that through the exchange of a financial donation for a beautiful photograph from a master, we might most immediately serve as a reminder of this tragedy and perhaps help thwart similar actions in the future.

Heather Sten / "Rocks of Milos," 2021

Heather Sten / "Rocks of Milos," 2021

How did you choose the Ukrainian Red Cross to receive and distribute the funds?

Hirshfeld: We reviewed a number of organizations to learn their funding structures and how deeply into the needing communities their reach went. After administrative costs, the Ukrainian Red Cross gave the largest percentage of donated funds directly to those in need.

Was it easy to get photographers on board? What was their reaction when you asked them to be involved?

Allyson Torrisi: We had an amazing response from photographers. Most thanked us for organizing and mobilizing for Ukraine and donated immediately. Several of the photographers we asked were on the ground in Ukraine and donated upon return to the U.S.  It was an extraordinary experience to be in conversation with so many photographers. All were so kind. The photo community in general is a compassionate and generous community.  

Todd Hido / "#634, Excerpts from Silver Meadows," 2007

Todd Hido / "#634, Excerpts from Silver Meadows," 2007

We at Treehugger particularly like the nature and wildlife prints. Were there any guidelines for choosing the images?

Torrisi: There were no specific guidelines for submissions. We asked for photos that would scale well at 8x10. In most cases, photographers sent a variety of images to choose from, and in some cases we knew the image we wanted and specifically asked for it. We were committed to representing today's photography and photographers.

View Article Sources
  1. "The Ukraine Crisis Fundraiser." Images For Humanity.