Born in rural Alaska, Cari Payer was raised in Alaska and saw the world around her through the lens of National Geographic photographers. The photographs led her to look at what the world could provide beyond the confines of her small town. Her passion for photography led her worldwide to capture people, landscapes, and iconic cultural sites in America, Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Cari first got engaged through Photographers Without Borders by attending Storytelling School in Mongolia. Then, she traveled to Nepal in 2018 and captured what she describes as “small vignettes of life.” As part of the lockdown for spring 2020 to Tokyo, Cari created a series of photos featuring her daughter, titled “COVID-19 Spring Collection 2020.”

Cari was speaking with Photographers Without Borders (PWB), the organization’s founder, Danielle Da Silva, as part of PWB’s ongoing “Storytelling for Change” webinar series. Below are edited extracts of the conversation that touched on the teaching of photography workshops, helping spouses of stay-at-home parents and small-scale business owners to utilize photography to enhance their lives, and identifying opportunities for COVID-19 travel, ethical photography, the best way to capture memorable moments in your life, and how important it is to share information within the field of photography.

Danielle Da Silva: You have a family in the rural area of Alaska and havehave lived and traveled across various locations around the globe. What personal experiences do you have that influence your writing and passion for teaching?

Cari Payer: I love being an educator. I am drawn to that more than a photographer full-time because I enjoy helping others to realize their dreams. The fact that we visit tourist attractions doesn’t mean that these destinations are all we need to shoot. It’s essential to go into the details and learn about culture and how to interact with others. We’re not there to take photos of people who look like us and then move on. We’re here to live and be a part of their lives, assist them in raising their voices, or helping educate our own. We’ll then be able to return that knowledge and help spread it to ensure that everyone is heard worldwide.


Da Silva: How did you come to be a teacher in workshops?

Payment method: My husband works in various locations, so we’ve had the chance to visit Hawaii, Germany, Florida, and Tokyo. The flip side is that I can’t make any progress for very long, as our typical duration in a place is around 18 months.

I’ve been a food photographer and was involved in several commercial works. However, there were occasions when I sought out other photographers who had inspired me for advice and was shunted off. In photography, there is a belief that photography is secret. For instance, if you search for a way to accomplish something in photography, the first blog post you see is “Top Five Secrets On How to Take Landscape Photos.” This is what it says: you take a stand in front of the landscape, click, and capture an image of the landscape. It’s something you can do with others. It requires a lot of practice and skill. But the notion that knowing the best way to capture photographs is a mystery is a nightmare for me. That’s why I began giving workshops.

Da Silva: What do you enjoy most when you teach those who are brand new photographers?

Payment: I love helping people accomplish whatever they’re trying to convey. Sometimes, we don’t have all the equipment or expertise, but it doesn’t mean we don’t have a story, ideas, or creativity. In photography,, it’s challenging to find people willing to help you find the answer to a problem.

Sharing knowledge is vital. Once, a student was looking to do a fantastic portrait shoot. I’d never attempted something like this. So I suggested, “Let’s sit down and use the knowledge I have and the idea you have and try and come together and work it out.” Being able to connect with people is a significant benefit of teaching.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *