Photographer Perspectives–Kim Poppleton

As part of our Portrait for Pixels campaign, we are turning the lens, so to speak, on the photographers who have generously accepted our invitation to take part in this innovative fundraising campaign. In today’s interview, we speak with Kim Poppleton of Denver, Colorado, US. 

Tell us about yourself – how and why did you become a photographer?

The hows and whys are a journey of discovery.

In 2004 I started my own business, Twiga Consulting, working closely with a start-up high school senior photographer here in Denver, Colorado. Vision Photography grew to a million dollar outfit while I grew in proficiency as an image re-toucher enhancing around 250 portraits a week in the busy summer months.

Then a life change and a switch to another very successful portrait photographer Sam Puc, specialising in pregnancy, family and kids, taking my Photoshop skills to a higher level. The journey continues and a new awakening with passion and desire to be the creator. F-stops, isos and shutter speeds and a learning curve that took me out on my own learning lighting, posing, composition and back to my childhood dream of telling a story through the art of photography.

Every day, every shoot I learn something new, how to play with light and enhance and brighten those who come through my world. Many say, “You don’t know what you don’t know” so every day I look for what I don’t know and that it will be a lifetime quest a story of balancing light and dark.

Why did you decide to participate in “Portraits for Pixels” and what are you going to do for the campaign?

I have volunteered for The Pixel Project since November 2009 and have been a part of their awareness campaign, recruiting assistant photographers for their celebrity male role model photography shoots in 2010. I also interviewed in the Good Works section of the October 2010 issue of Professional Photographer magazine, in honour of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month month, in an article called “Pixels Combat Violence”.

It is a natural progression for me as a survivor to support The Pixel Project’s quest to help women and children. I have since 2009 grown my network on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, sharing information related to Domestic Violence, individuals and organisations around the world on making a difference in the lives of so many: stories of grief and sadness, others of triumph overcoming trauma and giving back; and information on depression, trauma and other issues like teen dating violence, bullying, human trafficking and 21st century slavery of girls as young as 10 in prostitution rings.

With these connections I hope that many will take part in “Portraits for Pixels” and I will invite all I know to take part, even by just offering one day in August or September to donate to make our industry one that is making a difference in social issues of today.

Have you been involved in other campaigns to end violence against women? If so, tell us about it and why you decided to get involved. If not, why you have decided to get involved now?

In 2007 I completed my orientation and direct service training with a local organisation, The Women’s Crisis and Family Outreach Centre, which provides outpatient and shelter services to victims of domestic violence in Kiowa, Elbert and Douglas County, Colorado. This orientation opened my eyes to: the issues facing survivors; the danger and complexity of physical, psychological, sexual, religious and financial abuse; the effects of this abuse on depression, anxiety and trauma related symptoms; and the devastating effects of abuse on children and their lives.

On completing my training I was given the opportunity by the TWCFOC speaker’s bureau to talk to some teenage girls on abuse. I hope that I may continue this and volunteer at the shelter in the future as time allows. I have also spoken to the Denver press in relation to the Gateway Battered Women’s organisation, another shelter helping victims in Denver. In addition to the above I am active on social media where I am connected to many wanting a peaceful world. The Pixel Project was important with its attachment to the NCADV located here in Denver. My direct contact with them creating the 2009 “Remember My Name” poster and being given the chance to create the 2010 poster is important to me.

Violence against women is a sensitive, even taboo, issue in many cultures that is frequently shrouded by silence and denial. How do you think photographers and photography can help “break the silence”?

A photograph can send a powerful message like the Afghan girl pictured on the cover of the August 9th 2010 issue of Time magazine, a young girl who was disfigured because she fled abusive in-laws. A good photographer is able to capture the emotion, anger, sadness, despair or the joy of empowerment, education and freedom. We have all seen images that have made us stop and think, like those of famine in Africa, images of the collapse and horror of 9/11 or, on the other side, an image of beauty that has brought a feeling of peace and joy through our being.

There is much sadness in the world but also much beauty if you take the time to slow down and look for it.  We may not be in the industry of journalistic photography exposing truths from around the world but even as a portrait, landscape, sports, architectural, advertising or wildlife photographer we can make a difference in our own towns. Just by sitting up and taking notice of a social issue shrouded in silence we could all make a difference by giving information to a teen, a leaflet to a woman, a hug to a child, a listening ear to a friend which could change their world for ever.

What do you think would be the best way of encouraging  more photographers to get on board the cause to end violence against women?

I know that many photographers are very involved within their own community covering events for free in an economic climate that is not helping the industry—photo shoots for causes that are important to them for personal reasons, touched by individual stories. Many have their own nonprofits or foundations making a difference in society.

I think it’s important to explain that domestic violence and violence against women is a global social issue and that 1 in 4 women will be affected by domestic violence in their lifetime. This means that we all know someone, who is maybe a victim of rape, bullying, humiliation, isolation by a partner; a daughter, a mother, granddaughter, grandmother, a son, a friend.

Domestic violence is not gender specific although a higher percentage of women are victims. It’s not age specific or only lower income levels. It can and does affect many from all walks of life with different religious beliefs in countries from Africa to Asia to the United States, the UK and everywhere in between. Maybe by educating an industry I so love I can influence them to take part even for just one day.

Besides participating in campaigns such as “Portraits for Pixels”, how else do you think photographers can help stop violence against women?

An issue that is often shrouded in secrecy and silence, the humiliation felt by either not knowing where you are or by believing that this is what life is to be, a distorted perception of reality. A family in denial of abuse within their walls numbed by the pain of reality or a young child sold into prostitution or to a man twice her age for the families’ benefit. I believe only through education and awareness can we even begin to lift the veil and bring light to a very dark subject. In the dark, the humiliation of being a victim can be overwhelming and the fear paralysing.

As a photographer and individual we can make a choice to find out more by contacting our local shelter, maybe highlighting safe dating information through our websites for teens, showing them what a healthy relationships looks like. We can make a difference through helping anti-bullying campaigns or by signing a petition to help a victim of violence. The Pixel Project is working on a global awareness campaign as well as raising funds for 2 organisations. All they are asking for is one day or maybe one hour and a donation to make a difference, make a choice, and be voice against violence against women.

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