Highlights from each speaker: Part 2 – Annie Griffiths
While we weren’t able to be one of the over 12,000 attendees at Adobe MAX this year, we fortunately live in the digital age and were able to watch it streaming live, and revisit the talks and announcements as they became available online and to everyone.
Thursday’s keynote was particularly inspiring. While Wednesday focused a lot on software and program updates (also important), the speakers highlighted at the Thursday General Session demonstrated diverse creative backgrounds and mindsets about the work they do showing that success is achieved and lived in different ways.
Those speakers included “a potter, a photographer, a musician, and a filmmaker,” as Ann Lewnes, Adobe Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, remarked, before we found out these those more general relatable terms represented more well-known people including Jonathan Adler, Annie Griffiths, Mark Ronson, and Jon Favreau.
As one of the first female photographers at National Geographic and also one of the youngest at the time, Annie Griffiths made the most of her incredible opportunity. From not going anywhere outside Minnesota where she grew up, to now photographing over 150 countries, she shows how her photography has expanded her vision and purpose in life.
When starting, she primarily looked to take beautiful photographs. But “as time went on, I kind of had this longing to seek more than beauty in my photographs. I really became more interested in the people than the place. And I wanted to show the connective tissue among all cultures and also the things that set us apart.”
Sliding through various photographs, she highlighted the background story of each – Australians in tutus, the graduating class in North Dakota – which consisted of two people, and a photo above Victoria Falls.
She became especially interested in environmental stories, and then the environment and women and children. She started focusing on “programs that empowered women and children in the developing world.”
She founded Ripple Effect images – “a collective of photographers who document the programs that are empowering women and girls in the developing world, especially as they deal with the devastating effects of climate change – and in six years has worked with 26 aid organizations, has done 28 films and has an archive of over 25,000 images and the aid organizations have reported raising over $10 million using those assets.
By taking care of basic needs like fresh water, and educating small communities about basic nutrition and health like telling them what a germ is, they are more capable of thriving and leading their communities.
Another basic need that these organizations have been able to help with is, “the single biggest killer of women and of kids five and under in the world…. It kills more people than AIDS, malaria and tubercolosis combined.” It’s household air pollution from cooking and heating fires and lighting with toxic chemicals and fossil feels.
Griffiths believes education is the heart of empowerment. She shows photographs of women with clean cook stoves and the joy it brings, the poorest woman she’s ever met because she lost seven children to malnutrition helping a little girl go to school, women being taught how to build solar lanterns, salt farming done by young girls, and more.
“When you humanize a culture or an issue, people are very capable of getting it. If I can help provide that perspective that motivates people to be more open minded and kinder and more generous, then that’s what I want to do,” Griffiths said.