The Power of Pictures [117 Trip Chronicles]

Taking pictures has always been something I’ve loved. It wasn’t until around middle school that my passion for photography was ignited, and the dream of starting my own photography business really began. By my freshman year of high school, I booked my very first senior portrait session. I’m now about to graduate from high school in a couple of months, and I’m shooting about 30 senior portrait sessions, many family portrait sessions, and a handful of weddings each year. Needless to say, I love taking pictures. But my passion for pictures runs so much deeper. Growing up, I remember my mom was always taking an obnoxious number of pictures at family events, vacations, and even at home on the daily. There are six children in our family, so as you can imagine, taking family pictures was basically like pulling teeth. But somehow, we managed to do it. Our computer began to fill up from the influx of pictures being imported to it. We had millions. I used to complain, and actually tell her, “No more pictures.” I was over them.

It wasn’t until February 21, 2008 that I really understood the value of pictures, though.

It was that day that my dad was killed in a horrific car accident, leaving my mom to care for her six children alone.

All we had left of him were photos. To this day, we still treasure and cherish every picture that we have of him. We look at them often, display them around our house, and we use them to help us remember some of our favorite memories (since most of my siblings, including me, were so young when he passed). They truly comfort me and bring me so much joy to look at.

Looking back, I am so lucky to have a mom who loved to capture every moment of our family’s lives. Without these, we wouldn’t have anything to help us remember our dad. These pictures mean the world to us, and they are something we’ll treasure for the rest of our lives.

So, that’s when I decided that I wanted to help create these memories for other families. I believe in capturing the precious moments in our lives. Getting to deliver these pictures to families, friends, and relatives brings me so much joy. Knowing these pictures will be passed down from generation to generation, and celebrate important milestones and moments in their lives is the heartbeat behind why I take pictures.

This year, I wanted to use my God-given talent of photography, and put it to good. That is when I made the decision to be Carry 117’s official photographer. In this role, you can find me laying out products and getting the best angle in order to highlight their beautiful work. I love capturing their bags.

I also had the amazing opportunity to be part of the first ever 117 Trip. It was one of the best, most life-changing weeks of my entire life. I was able to be the trip photographer, and capture the ladies working, team members’ interactions, and the incredible new Carry 117 compound.


There was one experience in particular while on this trip that I will never forget. I had the chance to share my story with the ladies at Carry 117. They had seen me take pictures all week around the compound, but they didn’t know the why behind it. In fact, it is a common belief that people take their pictures, sell them, and make money off pictures of them. But that's not why I take pictures, so, I wanted to share my story with them.

When I told them the story about my dad, and how that has fueled my passion for photography, their eyes began to open. Toward the end of sharing my story with them, I told them I was going to take family portraits for each of them. Not for me, but for them. I wanted to capture this moment and make it a memory for them. This was huge for them, because they had never had a portrait like this taken before. We said we were even going to print these portraits for them to have! Their eyes lit up. You see, the ladies here are so used to teams visiting the Carry 117 compound, taking picture after picture, and having no idea what actually happens with the pictures. What was different about these pictures though, was that they were actually going to see them. They were actually going to be able to feel and display these pictures in their home. This was a whole new and exciting experience for them!

On the day of their family portraits, they each came in their beautiful dresses, and one-by-one got their pictures taken. As I rotated through each woman with their child(ren), I saw something different in their eyes and in their smile. They saw purpose and importance in these pictures.They knew that they were going to treasure these for the rest of their lives. They were laughing, looking at each other with a sparkle in their eyes, and it created such a magical moment.

Here are some of the photos I captured that day:




A few days after our team left, one of our team leaders, Ashley (who stayed a few extra days in Ethiopia), along with Henok, Founder & CEO Of Carry 117, was able to get these pictures printed and framed for the women.

When they delivered them to the women at the compound, this is what they said:

“They were SO HAPPY & SO surprised!!!

They were all in the sewing room and I laid the pictures against the wall like in the pic and Alem saw first and she screamed and then all the ladies literally ran out to the courtyard to see them. It was so precious.

Ayni said, “I never ever thought we would get these pictures especially not this year! Maybe we would get them next year!”

Then the ladies all started talking about you Katie and your passion and reason for taking pictures and they understand why you love it and why you wanted them to have these.”

Knowing that these pictures are in the hands of the ladies, that they get to cherish them forever, and display them in their homes, means the world to me.

I’ll never forget this experience, because it taught me that sharing your story has the ability to break down so many barriers.

We all have a story that needs to be shared. Maybe for you, that’s through words. Or, like me, maybe it’s through pictures. Whatever it looks like for you, I want to encourage you to share it. Because that’s how you’ll discover the purpose behind the passions and talents God has given you.