Friday, April 15th and Saturday April 16th, 9 AM-4 PM each day
Seattle Downtown Public Library, 1000 4th Avenue Seattle, WA 98104

Join an innovative community of non-profit and cause-driven organizations, documentary photographers, filmmakers, change-makers and communications professionals for two days of inspiration and education on the collaborative future of visual storytelling to affect social change.

Collaborations for Cause is a two-day event that brings together cutting-edge content creators and front-line organizations for an exploration of how to harness the power of the evolving media landscape. Presented by Blue Earth Alliance, our fourth annual conference builds upon the organization's 20-year history of facilitating issue-driven visual storytelling. With a mix of presentations by leading experts, in-depth case studies showcasing real projects, insightful arm-chair conversations, and break-out sessions, participants will leave inspired and armed with fresh approaches, an expanded network of contacts and new resolve to build lasting positive change.

Our conference will include interactive, small group discussions hosted by experts on topics such as innovative marketing, funding, image social media and non-traditional publishing. Opportunities for private portfolio review are available.


Who Should Attend

  • Nonprofit program, marketing and communications staff
  • Directors and account supervisors at public relations firms
  • Communications and education staff at government agencies and universities
  • Program directors, exhibit designers and curators at institutions (museums, aquariums, etc.)
  • Photographers
  • Filmmakers and producers
  • Graphic and sound designers
  • Concerned citizens, activists and change-makers

Day One Presenters

Louie Schwartzberg

Keynote Speaker

Louie Schwartzberg is an award-winning producer, director and cinematographer whose notable career spans more than three decades providing breathtaking imagery for feature films, television shows, documentaries and commercials. As the only filmmaker in the world who has been shooting time-lapse 24/7 continuously for well over three decades, Schwartzberg is a visual artist breaking barriers, connecting with audiences, and telling stories that celebrate life and reveal the mysteries and wisdom of nature, people and places.

Russell Sparkman

On the Horizon: What's Changing and Why You Should Care
The collapse of the traditional mass media structure of a few channels and the rise of everyone as a publisher has spawned entirely new strategies, tools and tactics for creating, publishing and distributing stories. The world of business communications is driving this monumental shift. Cause-related storytellers and organizations savvy enough to embrace these approaches and the tools that have emerged have unprecedented opportunities to create empowered storytelling to impact change.

Romeo Durscher

Director of Education, DJI

Drones For Good
Romeo's presentation will take the audience into the skies, showcasing how this technology has already impacted and helped all over the world. It will include stories of how humanitarian organizations are using drones, how post-disaster aerial projects have helped entire villages in Nepal after the earthquake and how a single quadcopter can save elephants. In his fun and entertaining presentation Romeo will also take the crowd into Son Doong, the World’s largest cave in Vietnam, giving a glimpse into this fascinating area from the viewpoint of a drone. Romeo will also be available for one-on-one conversations and breakout sessions during the two days of the event.

David Patton

Senior Digital Marketing Strategist at Vulcan

Distribution in Social and Digital Media Platforms: Feeding Your Beasts
Don’t think of the preponderance of social and digital media platforms as a burden. They are an opportunity to tell your story in slightly different ways and reach diverse audiences – if you factor them in when you are in the creating phase.

Jeff Cappella

Resource Media, Senior Program Director

What They See Matters: Testing the Effectiveness of Images
Does a photo “say” to you what it says to the viewers you’re trying to reach or inspire? If an image is inspirational for you upon close consideration, will it be so for someone giving it just a quick glance online? It helps to test our photos with eyes beyond our own, and in recent years Resource Media has been testing images in non-profit advocacy communications with audiences in-person and online, in research settings and real-world campaigns. In this presentation we will share some of the findings that have emerged repeatedly and also share tips for doing image-testing, an area of increasing interest for non-profits today.

Tim Greyhavens

Executive Director, Wilburforce Foundation

Comfort the Afflicted and Afflict the Comfortable: Aligning Photography and Philanthropy to Tell Your Story
Great photographers have attracted inspired philanthropists since the earliest days of the art. The two are a natural match: photographers need funding to tell their stories, and philanthropy needs photographers to show why their funding matters. But what makes a story compelling enough to make someone want to give money so the story will be told? In this session, foundation director and photographer Tim Greyhavens will share his experience in navigating the sometimes confusing yet rewarding world of fundraising for a photographic project. Whether you’re approaching a foundation, a government agency, an individual or an online audience, you’ll find something in this talk that will help you understand the buzzwords, processes, politics and personalities of philanthropy.

Benjamin Drummond + Sara Joy Steele

Filmmakers and photographers

High Hopes: Storytelling to Make Science More Inclusive and Relevant
A growing number of scientists are motivated to connect their information in a way that they think will be useful. Benjamin Drummond and Sara Joy Steele will look behind the scenes at four recent projects to explore how visual storytelling can help to unpack the science and broaden the coalition around today's pressing issues.

Bruce Farnsworth and Nicole Donaghy

Forgotten on the Bakken: Illustrating fracking's impact on traditional ways of life
Editorial conservation photographer and two-time Blue Earth project photographer Bruce Farnsworth will present his documentary work to illustrate the cultural and environmental impacts of high-volume hydraulic fracturing (aka fracking) in the upper Missouri River valley and northern U.S. plains states.

Roger Ressmeyer

Visions of Tomorrow: Producer

Hope, Health and Happiness: Working Together to Save Planet Earth
Roger Ressmeyer shares the origins of the Visions of Tomorrow documentary film project and how it offers real solutions for some of the world’s most pressing problems. With a background in space and science photography for National Geographic, Time and The New York Times, as well as key learnings from his current endeavor, Roger shares hope, practical advice and collaborative ideas on how all of us can work together to move projects from vision to completion.

Day Two Presenters

Tom Kennedy

ASMP's Executive Director, Keynote Speaker

Using Collaboration to Make Impactful Change
Visual communication is increasingly powerful in today's world as a language. Yet at the same time, it is too often under appreciated and underutilized by organizations as a tool for building bridges of connection within audiences to stories that resonate and incite positive change. Tom Kennedy will discuss the elements needed in a collaboration process to use this language effectively and how organizations can ensure their teams create strong visual messaging.

Tom Kennedy an internationally known visual journalist with 35 years of print and online journalism experience, including Managing Editor for Multimedia at The Washington Post and Director of Photography at the National Geographic Society. He has created, directed and edited visual journalism projects that have earned Pulitzer Prizes, EMMY, Peabody and Edward R. Murrow awards. Tom will discuss the current landscape of the industry as well as where collaborative efforts succeed.

Greg Constantine

Nowhere People: Fueling Long Terms Projects Through Collaborative Approaches and Strategies
Greg Constantine has spent the past ten years working almost exclusively on one project documenting the struggles of stateless communities around the world. From funding the work, to producing it, to disseminating it through a variety of strategic channels, Greg will explain how exploring and building strategic collaborations were central to the success of the project while also advancing a variety of advocacy objectives aimed at illuminating this complex human rights issue. He'll share the practical and creative tactics he's deployed to fuel, sustain and deliver his project, Nowhere People.

World Cafe

Small group breakout sessions on topics like financing, organization, social media, drones.

Kristie McLean

The Power of Story: Building Bridges and Advocacy for Obstetric Fistula
After years of profiling global issues such as unexploded ordnances, child brides and water scarcity, Kristie McLean traveled to Ethiopia in 2010 to learn about the childbirth injury Obstetric Fistula. Horrified by the preventable suffering of women and girls, she realized quickly that photography wasn’t enough. Kristie has created relationships and ongoing solutions with key stakeholders for fistula patients’ empowerment and self-sufficiency. She hopes her efforts will inspire others to be willing to move beyond intended projects and leverage the greatest medium of all: the heart.

Sara Terry

The Aftermath Project, War is Only Half the Story: from project to non-profit
Sara Terry shares the pros and cons of starting a non-profit as a photographer, and how her own passion for an issue led from a long-term personal project to a grant making program for other artists. Now in the 10th year of the Aftermath Project, Sara reflects on the privilege of curating a conversation, the challenges of fundraising on behalf of other people's projects and how to maintain her own vision, integrity and artistry throughout.

Amy Benson and Scott Squire

A Different Ending: When Documentary filmmaking and Non-Profit Messaging Conflict
Scott Squire and Amy Benson, a married documentary team, traveled to Nepal to make promotional piece for an NGO that provides scholarships for girls to go to school. When tragedy befell one of the girls’ they filmed, they were compelled to unearth the deeper story—one that was at odds with the NGO’s messaging. What is the media maker’s responsibility when the story they find is not what they were sent to document?

Dr. Julia K. Parrish

Head, Heart or Gut? Making Science Matter to Coastal Communities

Alasdair Turner

Raising Awareness: Visual Stories of Science
Telling scientific stories through photography requires a different approach than many other types of visual storytelling. Science is based on experimental results and observations. Personal biases and scientific inaccuracies are minimized by the use of peer review. Photographers looking to tell the story of scientific research must strive to tell the science as accurately as possible while still presenting compelling images. Alasdair Turner will present examples from his current project on Antarctic science to illustrate how to raise awareness of important scientific work using photos that accurately represent scientific work while still keeping the viewer engaged through compelling imagery.

Daniel Beltrá

Daniel Beltrá has been a Blue Earth sponsored project photographer since 2008. His passion for conservation is evident in his evocatively poignant images of our environment. Since the early 1990’s, Beltrá’s work has taken him to all seven continents, including several expeditions to the Amazon, the Arctic, the Southern Oceans and the Patagonian ice fields, many of those in partnership with Greenpeace. He received the Wildlife Photographer of the Year and the Lucie Award for International Photographer of the Year – Deeper Perspective for his SPILL series. Other awards include a BBVA Foundation award, the prestigious Prince Charles Rainforest Project, the inaugural “Global Vision Award” from the Pictures of the Year International and two World Press Photo awards. He is a fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers.


We offer a full two-day pass for $349. One day passes are available for $195. Full-time student tickets are $235. Groups of four or more receive additional savings. Buy your ticket today! Come Collaborate for Cause!


While we wish we could accommodate every request for scholarship tickets, this event is Blue Earth Alliance's main fundraiser. Any profit after expenses goes directly to support Blue Earth and its projects.

We will be offering a small number of scholarship tickets but won’t know how many until closer to the event. Space is limited and we’ve had a great response so far. Please send us your name and we will contact you when we know how many tickets are available.

In the unlikely event that presenters or the days they present changes, no refunds will be issued.

The conference will be videotaped by our partner Photowings with videos and interviews posted online.

Project/portfolio Reviews

We will be offering one-on-one portfolio/project reviews after the program on Day One. The fee will be $150 for three, 20-minute consultations. Only conference attendees will have the opportunity to sign up. We will announce the reviewers and the date registration opens soon so please check back.



Hotel Max is offering a special discount to Collaborations for Cause attendees. Book by April 1 for just $149 per night, plus tax. Inspired by its artistic and architectural roots, the Hotel Max has become a magnet for musicians, art lovers and the creatively inclined. As a key fixture in Seattle’s art scene, we’re always playing with art and music in all forms, from our extensive collection of paintings throughout the hotel, to an entire floor dedicated to Sub Pop Records.

View the 2014 program »

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Conference Partner


PhotoWings' mission is to highlight and help facilitate the power of photography to influence the world. We help photography to be better understood, created, utilized, seen, and saved.

Thanks to PhotoWings you can view presentations and interviews from 2014 and 2012.

Special Thanks


Wilburforce Foundation


Digital Photography Review