Advocating for Change

Ed Kashi

Ed Kashi

When can taking photos help resolve a health crisis? When your mission is to educate and change people’s minds about the way things really are. Photojournalist Ed Kashi does just that as he takes on issues that stir his passions about the state of humanity.

Mr. Kashi achieved recognition with his use of photography, filmmaking, and social media to explore geopolitical and social issues that define our times. His work has taken him to 100 countries, and his clients have included Human Rights Watch,, National Geographic,, New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Oxfam, and TIME.

During today’s plenary session, he’ll share why he believes in the power of images to change people’s minds.

“Working on the Aging in America project is where it all came together for me on the level of advocacy and raising awareness by creating work that others could utilize, taking my images to another level of effectiveness,” Mr. Kashi said of his eight-year topographical look at how America is an aging society, and both the pros and cons of what’s to come.

“It was with Aging that I discovered the possibilities in creating work that makes a difference and can be used by a broad range of people, foundations, NGOs, and academia to advance a cause, create more awareness, legislate, and advocate for change,” he said.

Much of Mr. Kashi’s work exposes geopolitical and social issues, including those that uncover health care crises. During today’s plenary, he will take attendees on a visual journey through his projects addressing early Alzheimer’s disease, ending river blindness in Senegal, and chronic kidney disease (CKD) of unknown origins.

Plenary Session (G4)
11:45 a.m.-1:15 p.m., Tuesday
Ballroom A One (Level 2), KBHCCD

In 2013 he received a small commission to go to Nicaragua to look at CKD among agricultural workers. “After seeing with my own eyes what was happening, where every day a sugar cane worker was dying from CKD, I resolved to make this an ongoing personal project,”  he said.

“My goal, through collaborating with health care professionals and activists, is to not only raise awareness, but improve working conditions and help to promote international protocols to find the cause, and thereby the cure for this disease,” he said.

Mr. Kashi said he is motivated to be in the middle of issues. By doing so, he finds a piece of reality to report on, from a unique angle or perspective, to shed light in a new way.

“The Niger Delta gave me just this opportunity, to tell a neglected story in a way not yet done,” he said, about his book Curse of the Black Gold: 50 Years of Oil in the Niger Delta.

Do You See What I See?
Kashi’s Photo Essays
Pakistan Encountered
In the Hot Zone: CKDU in Sri Lanka
CKDNT in India
Everyday Climate Change
Sugar Cane & Kidney Disease
Marseille’s Melting Pot
Palliative Care in Mexico
Syrian Refugees
Island of Widows
Northern Nigeria

The piece takes a graphic look at the profound cost of oil exploitation in West Africa through Nigeria’s 50-year history with oil production and the resulting environmental degradation and community conflicts that have plagued the region.

“I had extraordinary access, so my images were able to be graphic, revealing, and ultimately disturbing … which makes them useful for the media, advocates, and educators,” Mr. Kashi said.

Oxfam, the confederation of charitable organizations focused on alleviating global poverty, has commissioned a panel exhibition of his work that has already been shown at Johns Hopkins University and will travel to 10 more universities.

“This is further testament to my goal of creating photography that has power and usefulness beyond the world of photography,” said Mr. Kashi. “I realize photographs cannot change the world in one fell swoop, but they sure can change people’s minds. Isn’t that where change begins?”