I’m a photographer, filmmaker and editor focused on telling stories about humanitarian issues. I work primarily with nonprofits to create stories that inspire hope, educate the public and connect with donors. My clients have trusted me to report from over 20 countries on issues ranging from entrepreneurship to agriculture, as well as maternal health, disaster recovery and many others.
My path to visual storytelling started when I was a business reporter in Seoul. It was 2002, and the South Korean soccer team won its first World Cup match ever. Hundreds of people ran singing and screaming through my neighborhood, waving flags and commandeering cars and trucks as if they were parade floats. This was history! I ran out with my camera and clicked away until the wee hours. South Korea kept winning matches, and I kept photographing street celebrations. By the end of the World Cup, I was sleep-deprived and happy: I knew I wanted to be a photographer
One year later, I quit my job to study photojournalism in graduate school. I interned at three Midwestern newspapers. I won a Fulbright to South Korea. I taught myself to shoot and edit videos. I enjoyed newspaper work but gradually felt pulled to be an advocate.
I sought nonprofit work and landed what was a dream job overseeing all multimedia storytelling projects at Bread for the World. On one assignment, two colleagues and I filmed farm families in Mexico for a story on the causes of immigration to the United States. I rose early, shot in beautiful light and shucked corn with the farmers. The resulting short film ended up in film festivals and a Mexican textbook. It even prompted one person to change his stance on immigration (he wrote me a letter).
The best praise came from one of the families in the film: they said it told their story well and they appreciated our team spending time with them. That made my day. I want the people I film and photograph to feel proud when they see their stories. Ethical and honest storytelling is important to me. It’s a philosophy I’ve long pushed as the founder of NGO Storytelling, a website for inspiring and informing humanitarian storytellers.
After three-and-a-half years living in Rwanda and South Africa, I call Baltimore home and work at The Hatcher Group. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I speak Korean and conversational Spanish.
“Laura Pohl is one of our most trusted partners. Whether photography, video production, or both, Laura sees our projects through from concept to delivery. Her creativity and organization ensures a high quality product every time while being a pleasure to work with. No small feat for any freelancer. We love her!”
Mark Metzger, Branded Content Producer, Catholic Relief Services
“Working with Laura is an incredible experience. Her vast experience of charity videos, Sub Saharan Africa and filming meant I felt very safe and in capable hands. She supports, and guides you offering her experience where necessary to help you generate ideas, offering other points of view to make you think and reflect. Her high levels of integrity and approach to people being filmed ensure that your brand is protected and comes with a lot of credibility. She is flexible, patient and calm. Our video is excellent, captures the essence of what we do and was delivered in exceptionally short space of time.”
Claire Jenkins, CEO, Grow Movement
“Ms. Pohl is one of those extraordinary people who is both very talented and very modest about it. I had the true pleasure of having her on staff for nine months as an instructor at the ADMA. She showed both a facility for inspiring students as well as providing them with technical skills, bringing to the office a tremendous amount of positive energy on a daily basis. My one regret is that we did not have her on staff for a longer period of time. You can see many of her photos scattered throughout our web site, and her impact on the students still resonates today.”
Christopher Marler, Director, Africa Digital Media Academy
“Laura Elizabeth Pohl embodied professionalism from start to finish as a photographer/writer for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) in Rwanda. Before shooting a single photograph or conducting a single interview, Ms. Pohl did the necessary research and advance work to engage fully and diplomatically with program managers, clinic staff, and beneficiaries of our pediatric HIV program. We required anonymity in photographs of our beneficiaries, and Ms. Pohl creatively and discreetly took on that challenge, producing beautiful photographs of mothers and their healthy babies. Communicating regularly throughout the process, Ms. Pohl sent us several sample shots after her first shoot to ensure that she was capturing the story appropriately. Ms. Pohl met the agreed-upon deadline with high-quality photographs, informative and complete captions, and a well-constructed journalistic narrative. Those deliverables have been key EGPAF assets over the past two years and have yielded a high return on our investment. I hope to hire Ms. Pohl again in the future and recommend her to other nongovernmental organizations without hesitation.
Eric Bond, Senior Editor, Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation
• FotoWeek DC - Honorable mention for photojournalism
• United Nations Association Film Festival - Official Selection for “In Short Supply"
• Lights. Camera. Help. Film Festival - Winner, Best Short Film for "Stay: Migration and Poverty in Rural Mexico"
• Williamsburg International Film Festival - Official Selection for "Stay: Migration and Poverty in Rural Mexico"
• Women Photojournalists of Washington - Two photographs selected for annual group exhibit
• Oxford University Press - “Stay: Migration and Poverty in Rural Mexico” included in Mexican textbook
• Link TV - “Stay: Migration and Poverty in Rural Mexico” broadcast on national television
• Los Angeles Times - “The Price of Immigration” short film selected as a “Best of the Web” for April 2011
• FotoWeek DC Slideluck Potshow - Photo essay on Haitian women selected for group exhibit
• Newseum - Photograph selected for “FOTOBAMA: Picturing the President” group exhibit
• Honfleur Gallery - Photograph selected for “Launch” group exhibit in Washington, D.C.