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JCpicI know that I have done quite a few interviews over the years and yet none of them have been photographers. I have been wondering why, as I love photography. Well I can put an end to that conundrum right now. I’ve decided that I am going to showcase some amazing photographers from time to time and we are going to start out with one amazing lady, Jodi Champagne.

Jodi has traveled around the world and that point of world view is beautifully captured in her photographs. Aside from traveling and taking pictures, Jodi is also involved with many charitable organizations such as; Giving Children Hope, Parents of Children With All Special Needs, Grace Resource Center, The Butterfly Fund, and EBMRF. (*All links at bottom of the page*)

One project that I found especially interesting is the book that Jodi did, Courage Under Wraps. I asked Jodi about the book and she shared this information, “Courage Under Wraps is an in depth photographic documentary of a young boy named Nicholas Zahorcak that has a rare genetic disorder called Recessive Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa. It’s a story of what he goes through on a daily basis. EB is unknown to majority of society, which causes the insurance companies not to approve certain treatments or supplies. In medical school they may touch on it in a short chapter but most doctors don’t know much about it. So my goal in doing this book is bring awareness to EB and get society involved to bring more funding to medical research. As well as letting people know the last statement on the back of the book, “Be Kind, for everyone you meet could be fighting a battle you know nothing about.” Part of the proceeds goes to EBMRF.”

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It is a beautiful thing when photographers have an amazing opportunity to travel around the world. They get to capture the things that we so rarely see with our own eyes. When I asked Jodi to name some of the place she traveled she responded, “Just for photography I’ve been to Myanmar, Cambodia, Cuba, Nepal, New Zealand, Peru, Honk Kong. I’m planning my next adventures, which should include Spain, India and Vietnam. I was to travel to Nigeria for an NGO but due to the conflict it was too unsafe for me to go and the shipment of supplies was stuck in the waters due to the government.”

Photographers take a lot of photos and sometimes it is hard to pick a favorite. Ms. Champagne’s favorite photo is an amazing one indeed. “It’s hard to choose because each one has a special meaning, but I know what was going on at that moment when I took that shot. But there is one specific portrait I took of a young monk that I titled “Hidden Monk”. Couple things behind that image why it’s my favorite. First reason was when I was in a monastery and there is only light that comes through whatever available makeshift windows or doors in it. This young boy was shy and was kind of hidden. I waited for him to come out of an area and that is when I took that shot and that’s why he has that little look on his face. The other reason is when I was transferring my images back at home and organizing them I thought I finished this folder. Something stopped me from trashing it and when I looked in it that image was there. I could have lost it as well as some other amazing images. I actually had a French painter in France contact me and asked permission to paint that image. Well, 2 days before Christmas I received the actual painting in the mail.”

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We all take photos for a purpose; it either allows us to better remember a trip, a time, or to capture something that we just think is beautiful. However, there are many photographers that try to capture something more, something important. I asked Jodi what she hopes people will learn from her photography. “This is hard for me to say because there is so much and some might not be politically correct. It’s easier for me to talk about it then to write…Awareness of issues or surroundings, learn about different cultures, getting involved…I like to bring awareness to issues. To show beauty in everything no matter age or economic situation. Maybe slow down and see what might be happening right in front to you. There is always a story behind every image. For example: On my Fallen to Grace series I had a lot of people ask me what “down south” state was it in? When I would tell them it was in their town they were shocked and said they would drive by all the time and did not know what it was. Now they have gotten involved with the organization. My Waiting On a Friend typology series is a similar but different. People pass by and not realize good portions of people sitting on the benches at the bus stop are homeless.”

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Jodi does more than simply take pictures. Her work has been noticed time and time again and used for a series of purposes. “I have won awards, been published in magazines, books, cover of DVD’s, and exhibited around the world as well as having an images on stock with National Geographic. But I will just mention a couple that just happened and is my favorite. For the second year in a row some of my images have been chosen as the best photography of the year as well as being a finalist.  My favorite would be when Steve McCurry had chosen my image and gave it a special recognition and exhibited in Argentina.” Jodi revealed.

All of us wonder what we will be when we grow up. Some of us know from very young what it is that we are meant to do. So, I asked Jodi when she knew she wanted to be a photographer and what kind of camera she uses. I figured a lot of you aspiring photographers would like to know. “Well, I’ve always been an artist since a very young age. I’ve always been the one that was the designated photographer or videographer on the family vacations with a point and shoot. Finally about 4 years now my family and friends said that I had talent and I should do something with it. So when that discussion was over and we returned from our vacation I took my first class and had gotten my first DSLR camera. Now instead of drawing or painting I use my camera and the world is my canvas. I started with a Canon 50D, then got a second one. After my Myanmar trip I decided I needed a full frame and I was waiting for the 1Dx but they keep delaying the release so I got the 5D Mark 3.”

After all that Jodi has accomplished, there is still more work to be done. I asked Jodi what future projects she was working on and she responded, “I’m revamping my website so that in itself is a project, wrapping up my project called Life Lines, closing a deal right now on a documentary project I will be collaborating on (It will be starting in a couple weeks), and several projects in the works with some being documentary work while the others will be in the conceptual fine art genre. Hoping to have them completed by the end of 2014. As well as doing a couple CD covers for some musical groups.”

Earlier I had asked Jodi what she hoped people had learned from her photographs, but I wanted to know what she had learned from viewing the world through a lens. “I see there are many more stories that need to be told. That it’s not always about the camera but the communication you have with the persons in front of the lens. No matter what the economic status a person may have in any culture, they are happy, hardworking, giving people. It has made me appreciate the simplest things and see things differently, specially a toilet.”

Also, here are some final thoughts, “I used to think that I was too old to get into photography and had to catch up with all the young people. But I learned that many famous women didn’t start until there 40’s because they waited till their families were grown. I’m a firm believer hard work, persistence will get you somewhere and always be humble. Listen and learn and always leave room for growth. You are always your own worst critic but that’s what makes you strive to be better.”

http//:www.jodichampagne.com

http://blur.by/14LKIiq – Courage Under Wraps

http://gchope.org/

http://ebkids.org/

http://pocwasn.org/

http://thebutterflyfund.org/

http://graceresources.org/

Courage Under Wraps

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Other works by Jodi Champagne:

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*DISCLAIMER: All works are copywrite Jodi Champagne. Do not use, copy, or distribute without consent.

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