Photo of the Week

December 11th, 2014

In Hye Lee, Social Media Coordinator

With all the gloomy weather lately, it’s hard not to long for summer. This beautiful shot captures what we love most about summer: carefree days under the sun. Don’t forget to check out our Getty Images collection for images for every season!

Photographing Food: Tips and Insights from Jessica Beisler

December 6th, 2014

Eunice Sotelo, Social Media Coordinator

Social networks like Instagram and Facebook have changed the way we look at photography. As smartphones and compact cameras approach ubiquity, it’s not unusual for us to share all aspects of our daily lives through pictures, including the food we eat. When it comes to pictures of food, whether a piece of fruit or an entire meal, we have the capacity to appreciate them on an intellectual and visceral level.

So what does it take to make food photography visually appealing? CEF volunteer photographer Jessica Beisler shares her passion for the subject. A food and lifestyle photographer based in Vancouver and San Francisco, she considers the human story behind the meal as equally important as the tantalizing imagery.

CEF: Can food photos tell a story?

Jessica: Since food is one of our most basic needs as human beings, it has this great ability to unite us in that common experience. When I meet chefs, restaurateurs, farmers and other food enthusiasts, it’s essential to share what they’re passionate about. Food photos can definitely tell a story, and it’s up to the photographer to choose how to tell that story. It’s important to know the look and feel you want the image to convey. Lighting is one of the best tools for communicating that message. If you don’t have good light, you don’t have a good shot. I typically prefer to shoot in natural light, using modifiers to bounce or diffuse it. Of course there’s a time and place for studio lights as long as you know how to control the lighting to get the look you’re after.

CEF: What goes through your mind when composing your shot?

Jessica: When shooting food, keep in mind the purpose behind the image. I ask myself: what vantage point would make me want to eat the food? If it’s something I’m shooting in the studio, I’ve typically gathered tear sheets for inspiration as part of my pre-shoot planning, which could include colour schemes, props, backgrounds, lighting and mood. I see a studio shoot as a collaboration between the food stylist, prop stylist and photographer, each playing an important role in creating the image. If I’m on location shooting an editorial piece, the props are generally part of the natural setting. And no matter the subject I’m shooting, I’m always looking at the frame. How can I frame things to be the most visually interesting so the viewer’s eye moves around the image? Make conscious decisions about where your frame lives to avoid distractions especially around the edges, which can deter from the composition.

CEF: What are your rules of thumb when modifying composition?

Jessica: I try to do my best to “crop” while I’m shooting, so I can rely less on post processing. My style is more natural so I typically stay away from HDR images or heavy saturation. In terms of post-production, I use Lightroom and Photoshop the most. Lightroom makes editing thousands of images manageable, which is a new challenge for the digital age.

For more behind the scenes on food photography, read our Q&A blog on this year’s Toronto Food Shoot.

Photo of the Week

December 4th, 2014

In Hye Lee, Social Media Coordinator 

Giving Tuesday 2014 was earlier this week. This Photo of the Week is a throwback from our Giving Tuesday 2013 photoshoot with Hubert Kang! The images from this sports-themed shoot are now available on our Getty Images collection. Thank you for to all those who volunteer and support CEF, especially those who contributed time, energy, skills and monetary donations to this year’s Giving Tuesday campaign!

Giving Tuesday Donation Matching

December 1st, 2014

Leah Yee, Social Media Manager

InfographicSustainability is a cornerstone of Compassionate Eye Foundation’s mission. Not only do we want to fund worthy projects in developing countries, we want to facilitate a sustainable and long-term positive impact in communities. We know that our supporters want to see their contributions have this same effect. That is why we’re excited to announce that all donations made up to and on December 2 will be matched by CEF and a sponsor.

Donate now and your generosity will triple in impact! One dollar given becomes three dollars to fund the Peer Literacy Program in Sierra Leone, which provides literacy and leadership training for secondary students. For every student who becomes a qualified tutor, 48 primary students benefit from after-school classes to improve their reading and phonics skills. Since 2009, CEF and CAUSE Kids have been able to help over 5,000 children strengthen their education. We ask that you help us continue this program and give the gift of education to even more students in 2015.

Giving Tuesday: Q&A with Monashee Alonso

November 30th, 2014

In Hye Lee, Social Media Coordinator

Monashee Alonso -2014On the morning of December 2, this year’s Giving Tuesday, CEF Project Pillar Chair Sue Dick and photographer Monashee Alonso will be promoting the Peer Literacy Program and CEF on Global Morning News. Monashee sat down with us to answer some questions about her upcoming shoot with CEF, Giving Tuesday, and what inspires her to volunteer.

CEF: Tell us about the concept of the shoot.

Monashee: It’s a women in business concept, so the idea would be in a business location with women being the focus. Whether that means women in leadership roles, women who are mothers, women who choose not to be mothers. It’ll touch on the specifics of being a woman in the business place. There might be something like a woman bringing her child to work for the day, or dropping her kid off at day care, or power women within different roles in a company.

CEF: What would be the typical audience for this theme?

Monashee: It’s stock photography, so the end user could be anywhere from a financial institution to a blog about working mothers balancing home life and work life. But probably some of the images could be used in more than that specific sense, and used in more areas, such as a banking ad.

CEF: Have you been a part of Giving Tuesday before? What does Giving Tuesday mean to you?

Monashee: This was the first time I had heard about Giving Tuesday. Susan McDonald told me what the concept was, the idea being that after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, when people are spending money on themselves and their families, they give to people out of the goodness of their heart. I think that it’s a nice idea to bring to people’s attention, to be able to give and have a day that recognizes that so that it’s brought into public consciousness. 

CEF: How and why did you become involved with CEF?

Monashee: I’ve been involved since not quite the very beginning, but close to the beginning. It was through work, so I got involved because I was working with a lot of the people who were involved. I sat on the board for a year. After that, I moved to LA and I was mostly involved as a photographer, doing some of the production. I did that in Vancouver as well, before leaving for LA.

For me, it’s always been such a great concept, because it was a natural thing for me to do and be involved in, because it’s something that I love to do. I don’t have a lot of money, so what I can give monetarily is not going to go as far as my time and my skills. The fact that I can give my time and my skills to generate money for people in other parts of the world who maybe don’t have the resources or just need some basic health care. That is really cool to me, that we can do that without handing over dollars. It ends up being dollars, but the fact that it’s royalties and it accrues over time…that a photoshoot that everyone is contributing to can raise thousands of dollars is great.

The community factor has always been really amazing to me. When we originally started, the shoots happened once a year, all on the same day. It’s not realistic to do it that way anymore, but when that happened, that communal feeling that there was another crew in another city doing a photoshoot and that there were communities receiving our funds to build schools or put in irrigation systems is brilliant. And it makes you feel that sense of community, that we’re all working together.

CEF: Which of CEF’s development projects do you find most inspiring?

Monashee: The thing about the women in business concept is that CEF funds some projects working with women and giving women educational tools. That’s something that I’m passionate about. That tie-in is really nice, that there’s this concept of women in business and that there’s women in Guatemala or Sierra Leone or wherever the project is, working to build their communities up. If you teach a woman how to read, she takes that back to her community and teaches others. Women in a lot of the cultures that CEF is involved with play that role of disseminating knowledge. 

Thank you to Monashee for all her hard work. Stay tuned for updates on our upcoming photoshoot with Monashee and more on Giving Tuesday!

CAUSE Kids Peer Literacy Program

November 29th, 2014

Leah Yee, Social Media Manager

Three days until Giving Tuesday! Compassionate Eye Foundation is committed to finding creative ways to support global development and this year we have chosen to raise funds for CAUSE Kids’ Peer Literacy Program in the Koinadugu District of Sierra Leone.


The program trains 60 secondary school girls to teach younger students how to read. Studying under a full-time literacy coordinator, they will develop the teaching and leadership skills needed to teach phonics and reading. After completing a year of training, they will graduate as peer literacy tutors and teach 2,880 students at nine schools during after-school classes. The high school students receive funds to pay for the necessary school fees, uniforms, and supplies so that they can continue their education. Every one of the students who participate in this program will have a higher chance of continuing their education.

However, the formal education system in Sierra Leone has been severely disrupted by the Ebola outbreak. As a preventative measure, the government has determined that there should not be gatherings of more than 15 people, resulting in school and markets closures. Continuing its focus on education no matter what the challenges, CAUSE Kids has come up with a unique workaround by airing lessons on the radio and holding small group home lessons. The Peer Tutors are working with the classroom teachers to provide small groups of children education.


Celebrate this Giving Tuesday by giving the gift of education and make a donation now. Every dollar donated will be matched by CEF and a sponsor – your contribution will triple in impact!

Join the #GivingTuesdayCA movement and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Giving Tuesday 2013 Images now Available!

November 27th, 2014

Krystele Chavez, Social Media Coordinator | Leah Yee, Social Media Manager

December begins in less than a week and so does the start of the holiday season! With the excitement building up towards Giving Tuesday on December 2, 2014, we want to take a moment to look back at what we accomplished during last year’s celebration. On December 1, 2013 we hosted a successful photoshoot with photographers Hubert Kang and Matt Queree. More than 20 volunteers came together to donate their time and skills on the coldest day of the year for a great cause!

As with all CEF photoshoots, the commercial images produced will be sold to fund international development projects. The theme for this particular shoot was stylized and artistic sports images, and you can see a few of the amazing results below. You can now view and purchase all of the images from the 2013 Giving Tuesday shoot from our Getty Images collection – just in time for Giving Tuesday 2014!

Follow the CEF Giving Tuesday 2014 campaign on Facebook or Twitter for instant updates!

Giving Tuesday is Coming Soon!

November 26th, 2014

Leah Yee, Social Media Manager

Join Compassionate Eye Foundation and millions of Canadians in celebrating Giving Tuesday on December 2. Taking place right after the big spending days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday presents a chance to give back to the community.

In its second year, the annual event has been a very successful opener for the holiday giving season with over 2,600 official partners getting involved. In 2013, online giving increased by an average of 221%!

Here’s how it works: Partner organizations and individuals join together and agree that on December 2 they will do something to honor others. It can be as simple as making a donation to your favorite cause, volunteering your time, or spreading the word and helping create a national conversation about giving back.

CEF is celebrating in the best way we know how: a photoshoot that supports an amazing global project! Watch this space for more details soon and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo of the Week: Kompong Khleang, Cambodia

November 22nd, 2014

Leah Yee, Social Media Manager

In addition to the recent announcement of the Clean Drinking Water project in the Kompong Khleang village in Cambodia, we would like to share this photo of the region where the families are living. The new water system, built with CEF funding by Kids International Development Society (K.I.D.S) will bring clean water to hundreds of children and their families.

Kompong Khleang village

Project Update: Napo River, Peru

November 19th, 2014

Todd Fanter, Social Media Coordinator

Image 4

A healthy meal made possible by UBC and CEF. Photo by Erick Carreras.

Along the Napo River in the Peruvian Amazon, a long and checkered historical narrative of colonization and resource extraction looms over present day life of the region’s largely indigenous community. According to a 2012 Peruvian Government report, dangerous levels of heavy metals, including methyl mercury, are in certain zones of the Napo River.

The potential for damage to the health of the Napo River residents, who rely on the Napo River and its fish, is real. As such, Compassionate Eye Foundation is proud to support the UBC Division of Global Health (GHI) in its partnership with the Santa Clotilde Health Center (SCHC) to address the community’s concerns about possible methyl mercury contamination in commonly consumed fish.

Led by director Dr. Videsh Kapoor of the UBC – GHI, the study aims to improve the health, well-being, and safety of communities served by the SCHC through a three-phase plan. The first two phases have been completed, with the first consisting of UBC medical students surveying approximately 200 Napo River community members to get a sense of their consumption patterns. The second phase involved catching and then testing fish for dangerous levels of methyl mercury.

According to Erick Carreras, the findings of phase two have been encouraging. All but three out of 19 fish sampled can be eaten without concern about methyl mercury poisoning of any kind. This has made the upcoming final phase – educational workshops detailing risk mitigation in fish selection and general nutritional information – less of a hurdle than if a large number of the sampled fish tested positive for methyl mercury.

SCHC workers, along with UBC medical students and residents, are currently in the process of creating culturally appropriate education materials for the educational workshops. Between November 5, 2014 and March 31, 2015 this group will deliver multiple workshops to communities along the Napo River, representing the culmination of the 26-month long project that will hopefully result in a more nutritionally informed Naporuna populace.

Stay tuned for more updates on this exciting project or follow along official UBC project blog!