Meredith Hutchison

Meredith Hutchison

Meredith Hutchison is a freelance photographer and development practitioner interested in rethinking the role of the image in advocacy and passionate about supporting local media growth.

Exit dialog mode

Meredith is interested in connecting with others who love photography and want to explore the challenges and potential for images to support and advance social change.

Meredith is the winner of the Zoom in on Change photo competition and is passionate about photographing social change. You can see more of her work on her blog. Her winning photo depicts a program that inspired her at Haiti Hospital Appeal that trains paraplegics on hand cycle bikes to prepare them for a spot on the Haitian team for the 2012 Paralympic Games.

  1. 700 days ago

    Alison Hockenberry

    What about this particular hospital drew you to Haiti?



    • Meredith

      The normal model of a hospital in a place like Haiti is short-term care. You go in, you set up a clinic, you bring in outside doctors, they perform a service and then they leave. But at Haiti Hospital Appeal, they focus on long-term care and they focus on sustainable solutions. I was blown away by they their model. All the staff is Haitian. Anyone who comes down to Haiti from somewhere else has to train with their staff first. So they are building up a Haitian medical staff with expertise. They also run a child-care center called Maison de Benediction. Instead of setting up an orphanage for children with disabilities whose parents feel they cannot care for them, they created a daycare center for children with disabilities. Parents can drop the kids off for a full work day or for a five-day work week. The children then spend evenings and weekends at home with their families. And the staff work with the parents and teach them how to better care for their child with severe disabilities.

      700 days ago


  2. 700 days ago

    Alison Hockenberry

    Capturing social change in action is not an easy thing to do. Why is it so hard?



    • Meredith

      I have to say I am still wary about the use of photography in this social change world. A single picture is very vulnerable to interpretation and it often doesn’t touch on the nuances and complexities that exist in front of the camera. As an outsider, I don’t come to the table with a legitimate voice and I recognize that. I want to try to figure out a way to continue to be involved and take photographs but to be an added value to individuals living and working in these regions. Right now, I’m interested in working with other photographers and with organizations to support photographers living in these situations because they have a greater legitimacy in documenting what’s happening in their communities.

      700 days ago


    • Wil Kristin

      well put, Meredith! I studied documentary film in Johannesburg and can’t help but think of Kevin Carter and the Bang-Bang Club: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_Carter

      685 days ago


    • Meredith

      Absolutely! Their work covering the townships is extraordinary and they captured scenes with a very small degree of separation. But it’s interesting to compare those images with say, Carter’s photograph of the Sudanese girl. There’s no argument that his shot shocked Times’ readers and that it dramatically highlights famine, poverty. However, the image became more about the photographer than the context. Its ahistorical, designed, and I wonder if that is a consequence of Carter being removed both in that moment and overall, and therefore less of a legitimate actor. Would that image have meant something different if a Sudanese photographer took it?

      679 days ago


  3. 700 days ago

    Alison Hockenberry

    How did you become involved in photographing social change?



    • Meredith

      I just finished my masters at International Affairs at Columbia University. I was focusing on policy and the tools and mechanisms of development. I love photography and I just started taking my camera with me when I was out in the field working. I found it was a powerful way for me to convey my personal narrative and to explain crises and give context to the place I was in. Beyond just education and advocacy, an image can expand or contradict pre-established views and possibly spur people into changing their opinion and into action. An image can be a jumping off point.

      700 days ago


  4. 700 days ago

    Alison Hockenberry

    What are the challenges for a photographer taking pictures of social issues?



    • Meredith

      I’m very new at this, but I think that in advocacy right now there is a very specific standard for what makes a good photograph. And it’s something that shows a victim, something that dispossesses, something that is definitely not uplifting and empowering. I’m trying to navigate through this world of photojournalism and photo advocacy and create situations where I can be an added value and highlight extraordinary people doing exceptional things.

      700 days ago


    • Wil Kristin

      Amen!

      685 days ago


  5. 700 days ago

    Alison Hockenberry

    How can images tell the story of social change?



    • Meredith

      I’ve been thinking a lot about why photography and images are important. I think one of the great added values is shocking people out of their existing framework. Just seeing Leon — riding on this professional piece of equipment, with a trainer and with a video crew behind him — makes the community rethink their ideas about Leon and about people with disabilities.

      700 days ago


  6. 700 days ago

    Alison Hockenberry

    Congratulations, Meredith! Where did you take this picture and why were you there?



    • Meredith

      I had gone down to Haiti with a team of staff members working for the Haiti Hospital Appeal in Cap Haitien. I was documenting everything that was happening on the hospital compound. There were some members of the Swiss Paraplegic Foundation that were there, training paraplegics to do hand cycling. The picture is of Albert Marti, the coach from Switzerland and Leon Gaisli, who was injured in Port au Prince in the Earthquake. He lost all of his family in the earthquake. Leon is wonderful, charismatic and very passionate about this project. He is waiting to find out now if he will make the Haitian 2012 Paralympic team.

      700 days ago