Feature: Lori Hawkins, a documentary photographer

Last March, Lori travelled with the Saving Mothers team to West Pokot, Kenya and she documented her experience. This summer her photographs were exhibited at Photoville. Here we feature her to get a better sense of her career and what she captured while on the ground with our team.

Hawkins was drawn to the field of photography from a young age. “I was always interested in photography and capturing moments,” she said. “I built my pinhole camera at age 7 and walked around taking pictures of the neighbors, and I just thought it was the best thing in the world — the idea of capturing people in a moment. And I still feel that way.”

She became involved with Saving Mothers after spending time in Liberia following the civil war and the ebola epidemic. She learned more about staggering maternal mortality statistics and how the custom of Female Genital Cutting affects women’s general and reproductive health: “The more research I did, the more I wanted to help them tell their story visually.”

“In Kenya, if the baby dies, it’s a baby dying — the husband and wife will have more babies,” she said. “But when you lose the mother, you’re suddenly losing not only your wife, but the mother has multiple kids. It was a story of, ‘Okay, who is going to take care of these kids?’ That’s the story I was trying to tell through the photos: the people who are left behind.”

Hawkins had a particularly impactful moment while on the ground. She felt compelled to present the stories of the people of West Pokot. She tells us about a newborn that did not survive labor: “I picked up my camera and was weeping in my heart as questions went through my mind,” she said. “‘Should I take photos? Ethically, was it right?’ I felt that the whole trip was wrapped around that one moment. Where was I at that moment?” she asked herself. “Could we have done anything to help?”

“It was that moment in time that I felt I had to share this story,” she said. “It was a split second where I had to share the humanity, share the feeling of, ‘This is what’s happening.’

“It was that moment where I felt called into action,” she continued. “I felt taking the photos would, hopefully, help others to be called into action and spread humanity. It was so difficult for me.”

While editing the show over the past few weeks, Hawkins knew she had to share the photo of the stillborns and newborn. “The photo brings me to tears, remembering that moment but I’m hoping the photo emphasizes a shared humanity, a social responsibility too often neglected.”

Lori’s exhibit, Too Far to Walk which opened on 9/13/18 at Photoville.

Learn more about Lori and her work and follow her on Instagram at @lorimhawk.

Content from this blog post is credited to Michelle Trauring, a writer with The Sag Harbor Express: https://sagharborexpress.com/hawkins-captures-humanity-moment/

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