Rebecca Wilks

Rebecca Wilks; Photographer, Teacher, Yarnellian, Do-Gooder

Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Rotary Trips

Stearn's Wharf, Santa Barbara

  Sometimes I say that every trip is a photo trip, but that’s not entirely true.

I do my best to include camera work in my travels, but lately there have been a couple of Rotary-related journeys which required other kinds of work.  Sometimes I leave the camera in the hotel room.

Rotary, since you asked, is a 110-year-old worldwide service organization.  I love being a Rotarian especially because of the relationships I’ve formed all over the world, and the opportunity to leave things a little better than I found them.

I have the honor of working on a team that organizes grants, which means I get to help put money to work improving peoples’ lives worldwide.  Each year we have a Grants conference with Rotarians from Mexico, and this time we were in Veracruz. We came together last month to fund nearly $750,000 worth of grants, in Mexico, but also in places as far-flung as Mongolia and Kenya and as close to home as the Navajo Reservation.

Rotarian Elizabeth Mahoney get a baking lession at Cecati 42
We visited Cecati 42, a vocational school which is launching a program of training and job placement for the differently able.  They gave us a baking lesson, and I had a chance to photograph that.

Morning on the Gulf of Mexico, Veracruz
We were busy with meetings and Mexican hospitality, but there’s always (well, usually) time for a morning walk with my camera.

Closer to home, I traveled to Santa Barbara for a conference last week for Rotarians from seven states and British Columbia.  When I had a few moments, I walked or rode a rented bicycle around this gorgeous town.

The Red Sand Project
One photogenic event there was the “Red Sand Project,” where we put sand in pavement gaps to symbolize preventing vulnerable people from falling through the cracks.  The focus is primarily on raising awareness around human trafficking. 

I also joined a group of about 500 renovating two Boys and Girls Clubs in the area.

Looking out over Santa Barbara from the County Courthouse Clock Tower
Whenever I travel, I’m looking for images which convey the place as I see it and increase my understanding.  These Rotary trips give me incredible access to relationships and unconventional shots.  They do enrich my portfolio, but there’s also an opportunity to use imagery to raise awareness and perhaps start a conversation.

I suppose every trip is a photo trip; at least a little.

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