How Amnesty International used Triggertrap to make an impact in the fight for human rights

It's always a pleasure to hear about photographers using Triggertrap to help them capture important moments. It's even more exciting when we hear from photographers out there who are using their Triggertrap photography to try and effect change. That's why we were rather inspired when we heard how a certain member of Amnesty International had been using Triggertrap photography to gain a wider exposure for their campaigns for human rights. Jorn van Eck works for the Dutch branch of Amnesty International as a photographer and picture editor. He started working with Amnesty International five years ago after finishing his degree in Documentary Photography at the Art Academy in Utrecht. Based out of Amsterdam, Jorn and his team are always looking for new ways to get people involved in and engaged with Human Rights issues. That's where we came in. At the last Lowlands Festival, Jorn and his team used Triggertrap to help create an interactive game with lasting impact.

Tell us a little about your photography work with Amnesty International..

I am hired by Amnesty to provide all the photographic material they need for campaigning, action, fundraising and so on. Most of the time I take the photos myself but sometimes I ask other photographers to produce content for us. I work closely with the department who is responsible for the campaigns we run and the actions we do. Being a photographer for Amnesty International is very challenging. One day I'll be taking photos in a studio of merchandising products, the next day I'll be taking portraits of refugees living in bad conditions here in Holland.

Why is photography so important to Amnesty International?

Photography is really important to Amnesty International! It can show people things that they wouldn’t believe when you try and tell them. It is a tool to document human rights abuses and a tool to show people what is going on in other parts of the world. A lot of the time I see photos of bad things, but I also see a lot of nice pictures of what it is like to live in dignity and with respect for human rights.

What is Lowlands Festival?

Lowlands Festival is the biggest outdoor pop festival in The Netherlands. Besides good music and a good vibe the festival also has a nice theatre program, good food and some stands for non profit organisations (like us). At festivals we get the opportunity to reach out to a lot of young people to encourage them to support our fight for human rights all over the world.

Amnesty International’s stand at Lowlands Festival 2014.

Amnesty International’s stand at Lowlands Festival 2014.

What were Amnesty doing at Lowlands festival?

At Lowlands Festival we aimed to encourage people to join our urgent action network and to become a supporter of Amnesty International. We ask our supporters to send emails, write letters and share the case among their network. There have been a lot of times when people have been released after Amnesty International campaigned for human rights defenders that were in need of help.

We set up a camera and Triggertrap Mobile next to a high striker and called it De Kop van Jut. People were asked to hit this Kop van Jut with a hammer. The better the hit, the higher the score. The set-up was built so that when the hammer hit the Kop van Jut a picture would be taken at the heat of the moment. We wrote down the email addresses of the people that hit the Kop van Jut and asked them if they want to help Amnesty with the urgent action network. People got their photos by email but we also directly uploaded the photos to our Facebook page. From there people could directly share their pictures and tag themselves. In those 3 days we were at Lowlands Festival almost 2000 people hit the Kop van Jut.

Impact! Using the vibration sensor, Jorn managed to capture brilliant action shots of participants.
Impact! Using the vibration sensor, Jorn managed to capture brilliant action shots of participants.

Can you tell us a little about your photo booth set up?

We placed the camera as close as possible to the pin that was hit by the hammer when hitting De Kop van Jut correctly. The Triggertrap Mobile app on my iPhone was set to Vibration sensor. My phone was placed in De Kop van Jut so it would be triggered by the hammer strike. We used a Nikon d8100 and used a flash to freeze the movement. The camera was connected to a laptop with Lightroom 5 in tethered mode so when a picture was taken our watermarks were automatically added. Then with a plugin to upload the selected photos to our Facebook page we were ready to take some cool action photos!

A member of the Amnesty International team takes a festival goer's email address while another participant gets ready to try his luck with the Kop van Jut.

A member of the Amnesty International team takes a festival goer's email address while another participant gets ready to try his luck with the Kop van Jut.

How did people react to the Photo Booth?

People loved it! Because we directly shared the photos on Facebook it was instant fun. Although some of the photos were not that flattering people still liked the action captured in them.

What else are you currently working on with the Amnesty team?

Every Friday we have a two-person demonstration at the embassy of Saudi Arabia to ask for the release of Raif Badawi. Raif Badawi was jailed for 10 years in May 2014. He was charged with creating the ‘Saudi Arabian Liberals’ website and insulting Islam. His sentence also included 1000 lashes, a 10-year travel ban, and a ban on appearing on media outlets. The lashes are given in sets of 50 for 20 weeks. Every Friday from 2pm-3pm Raif gets those lashes in Saudi Arabia. During this time we stand in front of the embassy to demonstrate against this inhuman punishment. I’ve already used Triggertrap Mobile to make a timelapse of our two person demonstration in front of the embassy.

Last week I also made a hyperlapse with Triggertrap of one of our actions for Raif Badawi that I'll be adding to our Facebook page soon. We planned a big action in front of the Dutch embassy as part of a global demonstration. Today I want to make a hyperlapse of the two-person demonstration in The Hague that we do weekly until the flogging stops and Raif is released.

Have you been using your Triggertrap kit for any inventive sensor photography photoshoots? Make sure you share them with our Flickr pool or tag them with #triggertrap!