Get up to $50 off of Blurb photo books when you upgrade to Plus or Awesome. Upgrade now

7 of 365
01/07/2013
Tanner Wendell Stewart

Have you been wondering how a photography project can fight human trafficking?

Shoot The Skies is starting as awareness. Once a week I'll be photographing and interviewing social leaders, celebrities and anti-human trafficking activists to answer a few questions about how we can abolish human trafficking from their perspective.

After I have posted all 365 photos, I will publish a photo book, that will be funded by a Kickstarter. This book will give 100% of its proceeds to The A21 Campaign. A21 is fighting human trafficking daily and is an organization I believe in with all my heart! If the project is successful, we could raise $40,000 dollars or more for A21! It all depends on how many people buy the book, so I need your help too!

Grant Sutherland, my writer for this project will be writing all the interview questions throughout the year.

Next Week I'll be interviewing Cory Staudacher. He is @withhearts from instagram.

Before my interview I wanted to explain the photograph for today!

The photo is of me, holding the “guest book” from my first gallery showing, last New Years. It was the most amazing night of my life, thus far! We raised close to 4000 dollars for A21 and close to 400 people came throughout the night. It was my very first gallery showing as an artist and the event turned out to be an amazing success! 11 Bands played the event and it was such an incredible time! Over 30 people volunteered to make the event happen and I wouldn't have been able to do it without all of their help! Special thanks to EVO for giving me access to the building for free!

Who are you?

My name is Tanner Wendell Stewart.

What kind of background do you come from?

I grew up in a very small town called Enterprise, in Northeastern Oregon. Its an hour away from fast food, a stoplight and a freeway. This town is so small my school closed for deer season. I grew up hunting, fishing and playing sports. It wasn't until I was 12 years old that I fell in love with photography. My journalism teacher called my local newspaper and talked to the head photographer. I got a call from them and a week later I was photographing a country concert. My first photograph was published in The Chieftain newspaper and I got a check for $13.50. I shot photos for the newspaper until I graduated and moved to Seattle in 2006.

What do you do?

I have been a professional photographer for the last 5 years. I am the photographer for Rig and Keel Studios, and I am currently working with an amazing team of creative people. I did my first 365 photo project in 2011 and I am really involved with the media department at my church here in Seattle. One of the videos I worked on won an Emmy! http://vimeo.com/14920241

Why have you chosen to focus on the issue of human trafficking when we face so many other problems in our world?

I wanted to focus on Human trafficking because I believe helping people in need is the most important thing we can do with our lives. I wish we could take all the money from organizations that don't help people and give it organizations that do. A persons life, health and freedom is way more important than any animal or plant. I chose to focus on human trafficking because it an injustice I cannot even begin to understand. It is something I won't stand by and do nothing about and it has become a passion of mine that will last until slavery is abolished worldwide.

Why do you feel human trafficking requires such attention?

This cause needs more awareness, money and volunteers... The more people know about trafficking, the more they will help! Slavery, oppression, kidnapping, and rape is an injustice I will not stand by and do nothing about. I’m doing what I can, in the best way I can think of, to help this cause. I hope I influence other people to give what they can, to help a cause they believe in.

How do you plan on addressing this issue?

My photography, voice and influence could potentially reach thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people. Through some of the connections I have and with a desire to do something big, I thought it would be very possible to use my art to make a book to fight human trafficking.

Where did the idea for Shoot the Skies come from?

A friend of mine told me that I should publish a book for my 2011 365 project.

My immediate thought was “how could I make a book that millions of people would buy?” When imagining millions of people looking at my photographs, I thought to myself... ”how much more successful would my book be, if it helped people in need?”

My dream is that The Shoot The Skies book will be in living rooms, libraries, and coffee shops around the world.

How do you hope people will respond to this project?

My hope is that people will start donating to A21 and any anti-human trafficking organization. That could be finances, time or through word of mouth

I'm asking all of you reading to mention Shoot The Skies to friends, family, or strangers and get a lot of people following throughout the year! Tweet about it, reblog it, and just create as much traffic as possible. Viral always starts with nothing...

I’m posting on basically every big form of social media, so follow what you use!

How do you feel photography can be used as a tool to fight human trafficking, and other social issues?

Photography is something we see everyday... Billboards, commercials, magazines, books... If I can use my gift, talent, and influence to help stop trafficking, why not do it? Money isn’t the only thing that can help people, anything can help, and I believe my photography can.

What changes would you like to see in artistic circles nationwide this year?

I hope more artists will be active with helping people in need. Our art has serious influence over people, and I would love to see more artists using their work to help causes they believe in.

What other passions in life do you pursue?

My family is the most important thing to me!

I love hunting and fishing and being outdoors.

I played a lot of sports and was very passionate about baseball and football.

I originally was inspired by snowboarding and skateboarding photographers from Transworld. I snowboarded a lot and some of my favorite memories are building backcountry booters at Ferguson ridge. I have a lifetime membership to that mountain.

I love music and going to concerts.

I'm an avid gamer. I’m a Halo guy and love the competitive MLG scene

I'm also very passionate about my faith. OG Jesus is my homeboy. I love my church, you should come with me sometime!

I love riding my fixed gear throughout Seattle with my friends, but taking my bike to other countries is even better!

I'm too in love with food...

5 Things I don't like...

I don't like coffee (redbull ftw)

I don't drink alcohol (26 years sober)

I don't like the Yankees (Red Sox fan since 4th grade)

I don't like the T-mobile Sidekick anymore (had it for 7 years)

I don't like Human Trafficking...

Discover more inspiring photos like this one.

Download the FREE 500px app Open in app