Photography is
the language I use
to translate
other cultures…

I first became interested in photography when I started taking pictures of my own four children. With my engineer husband, our family of six traveled the world, moving 24 times in 25 years. Everywhere we went, I set up a darkroom. While we lived in Iran, I took a correspondence course in photography that filled in a lot of the gaps in my technical knowledge. Photography soon became too expensive to remain a hobby so I took a course in "Selling and Reselling Your Photos," by Rohn Engh, and set up my own business in stock photography. The first photograph I sold of two of my children on a swing was used on the cover of a book and I have been selling photographs since then to buy more film to make more photographs!
     In 1989 I was asked to go as photographer to Honduras and Guatemala with a mission group. That trip was a major turning point in my life and in my photography. I became a mission consultant for the Presbyterian Church and have returned to Honduras and Guatemala every summer since then. I lead a mission group of doctors and lay people who visit remote communities to hold clinics and get to know the people. I usually live with a desperately poor family for the two to three weeks that I am in Central America and document their lives through photography. The photographs are then used in slide shows, calendars, brochures, and posters to raise money for self-development programs to aid the communities. The people are willing to put up with my cameras and me because they know I am there to help.I visit some of the same families each year and can see the differences that the self-development programs are making in their lives. Staying with the families has been an invaluable education in priorities for me.
     I hope that the importance of personal relationships is communicated through my photographs. Photography is the language I use to translate other cultures that may seem foreign to us. I try to capture an emotion or instance of everyday life that can be universally understood to show that the people of the world are all more alike than we are different.
     My cameras are Leica rangefinders and I prefer to use black and white film. The cameras are unobtrusive, quiet, durable, and wonderful for low-light photography. The black-and-white film portrays people and light without the distraction of color. The photographers whose work I admire are those who have used their photographs to make a difference — from Dorothea Lange in the 1930's and 40's to Sebastio Salgado today.
                      — Tina Manley


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