When my friend and fellow fine art photographer Nina Mullins of Nina & Wes Photography started talking about planning a truly distinct kind of photography workshop in Nepal, I knew it would be something special. The Beyond Workshop was not only designed to offer photographers a chance to capture beautifully styled bridal inspiration on location in Nepal, but was set up so that 100% of the profits would go directly to caring for local orphans and fighting against human trafficking. Vendors took no pay and almost $8000 was distributed to locals in need. This is what happens when business is bettered by the hearts of the selfless.
As I saw the first of Nina's Instagram posts flood in, and then watched a stream of visceral, colour-infused film scans trickle down through social media feeds, I got really excited to see what the ripple effect of this dream would entail. Little did anyone realize that shortly after the workshop ended, Nepal would be struck by an earthquake that would devastate much of the country. Aftershocks and another massive quake rattled the country and no doubt the souls of not only the Nepalese, but many international trekkers and their families affected by the disaster.
Nina and Wes Photography have been able to publish the photos from their recent workshop in order to remind people of Nepal's beauty and spread the word about how to help the Nepalese people through organizations they have personal connections with and confidence in. As media attention about the earthquake slows down, it's important to be reminded that the rebuilding and healing processes necessary for the Nepalese people to go through, are really just in the beginning stages. Photography has the power to pivot our attention back to the epicenter of need, and I'm just so touched that Vale + Vine has the opportunity to present these beautiful images as a way to stir our hearts and remind us all of the beauty of Nepal and her people. Just as Nina + Wes Photography, along with a team of gracious vendors and industry leaders, so generously gave of their time, effort, and resources in order to serve the people of Nepal, now it's our turn to find meaningful ways to give back to this hurting country. Below are two organizations recommended by Nina + Wes Photography which could benefit greatly from your generosity.
Also, if you're a photographer intrigued by the passion and purpose of The Beyond Workshop, you can find more information right here for the 2016 not-for-profit workshop being hosted once again in Nepal from March 15-27 next year.
For more background on the workshop itself, along with its origins, other vendors involved, and how Nina + Wes' Nepalese friends are coping with the aftermath of the earthquake, I highly encourage you to take the time to read Nina's personal writeup below.
Credits // Photography - Nina & Wes Photography / Cinematography - Colletta Films / Event Design - Abany Bauer / Floral Design - Type A Society / Wedding Dress - Carol Hannah / Jewelry - Mickey Lynn / Hair & Makeup - Heather Smith / Ribbon - Frou Frou Chic / Shoot Location - The Fort Resort / Styling & Design - Abany Bauer / Film Processing + Scans - Goodman Film Lab //
From Nina + Wes Photography...
This bridal session was born out of our time spent in Nepal. We wanted people to be able to experience Nepal through the different elements of the session. We had a spread of spices that are found throughout Nepal and used in many of their cuisines. Bits of copper and brass can be seen with those elements, which were found and purchased in the streets of Kathmandu. Marigolds were central to the shoot, as you can see marigolds on any given street in Nepal. We loved seeing them draped over the bride who is wearing a stunning Carol Hannah dress that seemed to sparkle in the Nepali sunlight.
Just before Wes and I married, I lived in Kathmandu, Nepal for four months, doing volunteer work with street children and elderly women. I grew to love Nepal greatly, and have ached to return ever since. As a wedding photographer, it is easy to get swept away into all the pretty details and amazing people we meet as we capture one of the most special days of their lives on film. But my heart has always been happiest when working to make a difference in the lives of others, which always seems to do the same in my own life when I work towards that goal.
About 20 months ago, I woke up with an idea about a special kind of photography workshop. I wanted to do something more with our business. I wanted to go beyond business, and do something more in the world…something that would have lasting impact. Most photography workshops focus mainly on building your portfolio and growing your business, which is great and needed. But it can get competitive, and can cause you to lose focus on what is really important in this world…loving others, and giving back what we have been given. The Beyond Workshop focuses not only on encouraging photographers to be successful in their businesses, but to take their success and give back to those in need. We are asking the question…What is the meaning of success? Is it more money, bookings, and bigger houses? Or is it doing your absolute best in what you do, and taking that and giving back to the world that has given so much to you.
100% of the profits from this workshop go to orphan care and human trafficking interception in Nepal. None of the vendors take any pay, and this year we were able to give almost $8,000 to those in need in Nepal! The first half of the workshop is spent in classroom sessions revolving around business, and the second half of the workshop is spent doing volunteer work in Nepal. We had an amazing group of people this year, that gave everything they could to help this workshop succeed. Each attendee had their own part to play, and as the days unfolded, it was a joy to see each one of them fall in love with the country of Nepal.
The earthquake that occurred on April 25th in Nepal has shaken all of us. So many of the beautiful places we visited, and historical landmarks that we marveled at, are now piles of rubble. As far as we can tell, though, our loved ones and the people at the organizations we volunteered at, are all safe. Some of them have lost homes, but they have escaped the earthquake without injury. For that we are thankful.
This workshop is meant to inspire photographers to go beyond themselves and give back to the world in need. And through sharing images of this beautiful bridal session, we hope to remind people of the beauty of Nepal, not the poverty. Nepal is a country rich in history, and the people of Nepal are full of warmth and kindness. Walk down any given street in this enchanting country and have a conversation with someone…you may just find that you are invited in for some milk tea.
Some of the industry vendors that donated time or goods to help make our not-for-profit workshop succeed include: Magnolia Rouge, Jose Villa, Wildgrace Workshop, Paper Birch Designs, Julie Song Ink, Brown Linen Design, Kraft & Jute, Mrs. Box, Frou Frou Chic, Type A Society, Richard Photo Lab, State Film Lab, Goodman Film Lab, Carol Hannah, Gossamer Vintage, and Jacob Cecil.
A special thanks to Gautam Rai, our Nepali brother who made this workshop truly possible by arranging all of our lodging, meals, and volunteer opportunities. He was our translator throughout our time there, and he also helped our attendees see the importance of documenting the joy and warmth of the people of Nepal, over the poverty of Nepal. He and his wife, Rekha, along with 3 biological children, have adopted 11 beautiful girls, and have devoted their lives to orphan care, and are daily meeting the needs of others with what little they have. Since the earthquake, Gautam has been out in the streets from morning til night helping others. He and his family are a beautiful example of love in action.
If you are interested in helping the relief efforts that are occurring on the ground in Nepal, there are many amazing organizations that work tirelessly with the people there, not only providing aid right now, but long-term care after many other relief groups have returned back home.
Here are two that we support wholeheartedly, and have first-hand experience with: