Feature image by Patrick Kelley for Vox
Patrick Kelley and Eric Kruszewski donated not only their time and money but also their comfort, to go along on the hot, dusty, 14-day journey by land cruiser through the wilderness of Cabo del Gado province of Mozambique. They accompanied the Vox team in the successful rehabilitation of 34 wells, servicing over 50,000 people.Their mission? To capture the impact of water on the community of Mozambique.
In order to learn a bit more about the men behind the camera, we interviewed them a little over a month after their return.
Patrick Kelley, owner of Patrick Kelley Worldwide Photography in Minneapolis, MN, is no novice to the world of photography. He has a fine art photography degree and his works have been shown in The National Geographic Magazine and exhibits around the world. His photography often focuses on natural scenes, and are exceptional in their rich emotion and depth of color.
His self-described passion is storytelling. Having traveled to many countries, he focuses on creating a visual narrative of the places he sees through his camera lens. When he heard about Vox United and the water crisis in Africa, he decided that this was a story worth telling. Jumping all in, he invited his friend and fellow photographer, Eric Kruszewski, to accompany him on a trip with Vox United to the heart of the water story in Mozambique.
Eric Kruszewski has a degree in Mechanical Engineering and worked for 10 years with Bechtel in multiple locations. He was sent overseas in 2005 to be a senior engineer in Kazakhstan. It was here that he bought his first camera, simply to capture some of his memories abroad. Little did he know, this would spark a 180-degree life change. Asking himself what he was contributing and feeling stifled behind his office desk, he wrapped up his employment as an engineer and took up the camera. He traveled to India to shadow three artists for 18 days, and in 2011 he attended an Eddie Adams workshop in New York, after which he decided, in his own words, to “go all out for photography”.
Eric views photography as a form of storytelling which is pure, emotional, resonate, and spoken in a universal language to any viewer. He believes a picture has the ability to take you out of your world, and put you into some one else’s; to see through their eyes and have a front row seat to emotion.
These two motivated photographers partnered together to tell the story of lives deeply impacted by the availability of clean water. Their impressions? Eric said, “There were villages in the middle of the bush, with literally nothing around. Yet people live there with hardly anything. It really makes you ask yourself ‘What’s really important?’” He was particularly touched by the impact of a renewed well on the villagers’ spirits. He described their initially lethargic faces as being uplifted instantly, the renewed water bringing deep relief and hope to their faces.
Patrick was moved by the peoples’ resilience. He related that without access to a working well, they struggled daily. They were digging holes, some that were deeper than 10 ft in the dirt, to get water. Repairing the wells provided a giant step forward, even though the fix was sometimes so simple. When the water was flowing again, there was excitement in the air, and a shared sigh of relief.
With their photographs from the November trip, Patrick and Eric have compiled an exhibit entitled “Faces of Change” from which all print sales are donated to Vox United.
Patrick’s parting message to his viewers is simple, “The people are real, see them, share their story. We have so much information but sometimes we miss out on what’s really important and valuable.” He hopes his pictures will create a curiosity in people, inform the public, inspire participation in the solution, and open up our perceptions beyond our own lives to dire issues in the world that need to be addressed.
Eric relates a similar goal. He wants people to realize that there is a need and issues that need to be resolved. “There are efforts in place and great things are happening, but there is still a long road ahead…After you know, look at yourself and ask what can you do to help?”