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Guatemala 2013

In 2010 Josh, our Executive Director, went to Guatemala with Danielle Mein.  This was nothing new for her; she and Justin had already been going to Guatemala and visiting orphanages and children’s homes for a over a decade. It was a very impactful trip so say the least. He went for 9 days to shoot a promotional video for an orphanage, so they that could raise money online and here in the states — sadly that home is no longer in operation.

When he got back, we really started to think about who we are as a company.  We had always given to children’s homes, it’s just something we thought was important. But we wanted to do more. So we launched a new company called C&I Reach Inc and started to fight for our 501c3.  At C&I Studios, we produce media for all types of individuals, companies, and organizations. Every time we get hired we give some portion of that money to Reach.  Reach then gives to truly unique organizations.  Reach only gives to organizations that are in the trenches, fighting for real change, not surface level change.

Why the name Reach? Well our vision statement is to Create Inspiring Art with Exceptional Quality to Reach Humanity 2.0. So we thought that we really fitting. And that is what we wanted to do, we wanted to use media to Reach into the world. We wanted to use our camera’s, microphones, pencils and art to tell impactful stories. Since then we have a been on a few different trips in the states, then Haiti, and certainly Guatemala stood out to me.

But it wasn’t until we participated in Help Portrait in DC that it all clicked for me. We saw the power of media in front of our eyes.  We saw people, families of four even, that had never had their photo taken before. And here we are all our with our iPhone 5s’ taking photos and uploading them to Instagram every fifteen seconds. like. like. like.

Justin and Ian talk a lot about the power of a printed photograph.  We sit around in the studio sometimes and flip through photo books and talk about memories from shoots, things we have loved and so on. Justin would always say “There is something powerful about holding a photograph.”

That’s when we figured it all out: we go back to Guatemala and just take photos for kids, make them feel pretty, valued, and special. We then print out the photos on the spot and give them to the children and families. The staff loved the idea, and we only had a few months to put this trip together.

One of our good friends, Lucianne, was at the studio in Florida and I shared the idea with her. She runs a hair and make up studio called F2F Studios.  Luci immediately said “My cousin runs a school for kids in Guatemala!”  We got really excited and I knew this trip was going to be special.

This trip was unique. Normally, when we leave for a trip, either Josh, Ian, or Justin and Danielle will go. This time, we wanted to bring our entire twelve person staff. So we did. We closed down the studio from September 6th-11th, 2013 and left.

We had a few goals with the project.

Our primary goal was to make children feel special, love on them, hug them, and hang out. And this wasn’t a “Cool Americans go save Guatemalans” trip. We were supported in the country by so many locals, young locals, who run some of these organizations and their staff, as well as old friends of Danielle from the children’s home she used to visit.  It was awesome to see people from Guatemala care so much about their own kids and their people.  They were floored that we would come from America to spend time with them there, and together we did something bigger than we all thought.

There are orphans all over the globe. Guatemala is no different; there are so many orphan children. Currently Guatemala doesn’t allow foreign adoptions, and domestic adoptions are so rare because the people have such a hard time taking care of their own family (but we will get into that later)

The second goal was to use our media to impact people by giving them something tangle to remember. This isn’t just a 5×7 photo- this a memory from that special day. And sure, the kids may forget our names, what kind of bounce house we brought, or what we had for lunch, but they will never, ever forget how they felt. These photos help capture those feelings. And when they are feeling low one day, then hopefully that photo will bring them joy. Have you ever pulled out old photos? Do you keep old photos? If you are like us then you do. So that was the whole goal. And most, if not all of these kids didn’t own one single photo of themselves.

Here are some of what we shot for the children:



And lastly we wanted to make an impact in America. We wanted to do a mini-project while we were in Antigua. Danielle thought it would be rad to show how local Guatemalans live.  Since they had been to Guatemala so much, we developed a relationship with a few people, mainly Kathy, Lizeth, Edwar, and Oscar, in addition to  people that run Watchmen on the Wall (thats why we support them financially every month). Anyways, their friend Kathy brought us around to several real homes in Antigua who were incredibly gracious to let us come in and take photos so we could use them as a reminder to us and all of you of  just how awesome we have it.  When we walked in…we were floored.  Here are some of the images:

There is something so magical about going beyond yourself to the point of fear and unfamiliarity and complete discomfort.   Recently, Josh made the mistake of trying to work out with Brandon.  It’s not in the first few reps of the bench press where you feel it.  It’s when you’re out of breath. Your chest feels like its going to cave in and your arms feel like jello. Through that pain, when you reach your limit, Brandon’s voice fades in: “Come on man, two more, one more…then and ONLY then, is when you grow. We grew during these few days in Guatemala. Going to a Third World country is like a slap in the face. We saw people who live in 10×10 homes with four children and a mother.  Exposed cinder block walls, tin roofs, dirt floors. If you want to cook, you have to start a fire.  No bathrooms, the earth is your bathroom. Animals co-existing with everyone. Chickens, dogs inside homes and wandering through the streets — and all we could feel was joy. The children fill the streets with smiles on their faces, eager for you to hold them, laugh with them. You can’t understand them, but smiles, hugs, love, and sometimes soccer need no translation.  They have nothing and they are happier than you. Happier than me. They have joy. Instead we’re busy being upset at Apple because they didn’t come out with the kind of iPhone we thought they should. So this trip wasn’t for us to show YOU, how good you have it. We aren’t the “chosen people”.  We are just like you. We need to grow, so we wanted to stretch ourselves, put ourselves to the limit and do whatever it takes to grow.

Funny thing is, you can read all of this, or you can just look at the photos and I think you’ll understand just fine.

There is something about a photograph.

If you really wanna get involved and help we encourage you to buy a print.

All the proceeds from the prints go to the orphanages and children homes in Guatemala.

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