The Pitch: 1 Foto 1 Family

This post is part of "The Pitch" series, which follows up with socially conscious creatives who submitted to the inaugural Benevolent Media Pitch Night competition in November 2012. At the event, held in Washington, D.C., 13 different projects and organizations presented 3-minute proposals on how to use storytelling and design for social good, for a chance to win funding to make their ideas a reality. (Read about all the winners and finalists here.) As we gear up to host another Pitch Night during our festival in late-September, we want to know: Where are they now? What's the status of their project? What lessons have they learned? Do they have any requests for collaboration?  Stay tuned!

Meet Arianne Neigh, the creator, team leader and "wandering adventurer" behind 1 Foto 1 Family, a photo documentary project that aims to capture cultural connections through family. Arianne is privileged to have walked, paddled, skipped and surfed through more than 40 countries across the globe. Having not much more than her trusty headlamp and 10-year-old flip-flops, she wanted to find a simple gift for her gracious hosts while traveling. Arianne started giving family portraits as a logical token of her appreciation. This is where 1 Foto 1 Family was born.  Although Arianne is far from a professional photographer, she does have a remarkable lack of filter and mystery helping her to become friends with anyone. These anti-superhero powers are critical for weaving stories based on her experiences, creating bonds between unexpected people in far-flung places, and eating copious amounts of street food. Arianne hopes that 1 Foto 1 Family will allow her to share her life enhancing experiences and create understanding between cultures by telling the story of our families. To learn more about 1 Foto 1 Family, follow their work on Facebook.

Arianne Neigh presents The Global Archive Project" at Benevolent Media Pitch Night 2012. Photo by Ben Droz.

What is your project you pitched and why did you start it? Are you still working on your project and if so, what have you been doing to date?

I pitched “The Global Archive Project” last November, which was a project to capture family stories and portraits with a goal of showing that, although we look very different, the stories of our families can create understanding between cultures. This was really an idea that had been in the back of my mind for several years, but I hadn’t done anything more formal than chatting with a few friends about it. I decided that the Benevolent Media Pitch Night was a great opportunity to stop talking and to take a chance to do something.

I had such amazing support from our partners at Earthship Pitaya Festival during the preparation for Pitch Night that I decided to move forward. My boyfriend, Jake Lescher, joined the project, we changed the name to 1 Foto 1 Family, got my sister involved as a graphic designer, and even launched a Kickstarter campaign. Although we weren’t successful with Kickstarter (we learned a ton about what to do and not do,) our family and our friends at Earthship Pitaya Festival were so supportive that we decided to alter the design, simplify the project, and take the leap of faith to begin.

In February, we launched the project in El Carizal, Nicaragua where we volunteered at the festival, photographed families, and connected with new and old friends. We took portraits of families with special needs children, as well as helped put on the festival, which attracted more than 3,000 people and helped raise thousands of dollars for programs in the community. It was a rewarding experience for the two of us and helped us beta test the feasibility of our project.

Although I know this will likely be a lifelong endeavor, I hope that I can continue to collect stories about families. I have just returned from a trip to Southern Africa, and I am compiling that work and finishing some documentation from Nicaragua.  These will become part of our Twitter and Facebook pages, where we will begin to share the projects stories.

Do you have any requests for collaboration or calls to action? If so, what?

Right now we are looking for our next opportunity.  Perhaps, we will seek something closer to home and work with underserved parts of D.C. Hopefully, we can identify a partner who is already working in the target community. We have found this to be critical to the success of our projects by ensuring that we are sensitive to our hosts and providing them with something that will make them happy.  We want to make sure we are operating through exchange and not giving or taking on either end. At its heart, 1 Foto 1 Family is a collaboration. I would really love to have another member who is passionate about other cultures, has a fabulous eye for portrait photography, and wants to give back to others.

What have you learned from your work thus far?

Every time I work abroad, I remember to be patient, flexible and gracious. I learn to take advantage of opportunities but never of people. I learn to love a little more and to treasure the things that make me, and everyone around me, unique. I’ve learned that I don’t have to be perfect. I’ve learned to just go for it!

How has your perception of family changed from undertaking this work?

I am continually amazed and surprised by the strength of families, even in times of difficulty or maybe in the face of difficulty. Families are synergistic; the whole amounts to more than the parts. By nurturing the whole, we build strength together. I don’t think I have been able to capture that effectively yet, but I know it is there.