By Gagandeep Ghuman

Published: July 7, 2012  The Squamish Reporter Husband & wife at LumbiniLEI-6300

Ellen Crystal captured the gamut of human emotions while documenting the work of Vancouver-based non-profit Seva. © Ellen Crystal Photography

Ellen Crystal is in love, all over again, with her camera. The Squamish-based professional photographer had hung her Canon for a few years after feeling burned out. This spring, she renewed the vows after spending three weeks in Nepal, documenting the work the non-profit agency, Seva Canada, does in the developing world.

Ellen Crystal in Gulmi Nepal at a school screening

For Ellen Crystal, the trip was a reminder of the power of photography ©Ellen Crystal Photography

A Vancouver-based charitable organization, Seva (a Sanskrit word which means service) works to restore sight and prevent blindness in the developing world. Seva wanted Ellen to document the scale of its efforts in Nepal, from the screening programs at the Geta Eye Hospital in the western city of Dhangadhi, to its field operations spread all across the country. The scenes—milling crowds, the colours, life played out on street—were all eagerly waiting to be captured, Ellen said. As the Seva team fanned out across the country to observe eye camps, Ellen trained her camera on the people, and the emotions they undergo as they get back their sight. Ellen took pictures that show the scale of the operation, from people lining up, getting their eyes tested, preparing for surgery. But it’s portraits that reveal the essence of Nepal and its people. The pictures are still, but life veins through them. There are kids whose peals of laughter we can almost hear. There are men contemplating the operation room, and there are couples giddy with happiness over restored eyesight. To describe the smiles and sparkly eyes of young women in her photos would certainly take more than a thousand words.

“It was so inspiring to be there, to feel the gratitude of the people, the positive spirit of the people and the place”

“It was so inspiring to be there, to feel the gratitude of the people, the positive spirit of the people and the place,” Ellen said. Ellen took thousands of pictures, creating a montage that she hopes will help Seva showcase their work and attract donors. On their Facebook page and their media kits, Seva is already using images taken by Ellen. The trip was a reminder of the power of camera as a tool of philanthropy. “The camera is a powerful tool for raising awareness, and it was an honour to be there to capture the incredible spirit of the people and the place,” Ellen said.

Female student at School Screening by Ellen Crystal

Female student having her eyes tested at a school screening. ©Ellen Crystal Photography

Story originally posted in the Squamish Reporter 

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