INTERNATIONAL MEDICAL CORPS always knew that he photographs taken to capture the organiza- tion’s humanitarian work were important. For
more than 20 years, the Santa Monica, Calif., organization stored a jumble of prints, negatives, slides, and
even some Polaroids in a series of file cabinets, which
the group moved from office to office as it grew.
Now, thanks to the efforts of a dedicated volunteer,
the organization is marking its 25th anniversary
with the release of a coffee-table book that features
255 of those photographs and chronicles the group’s
health-care, medical-training, and water and sanitation projects in the wake of war, natural disaster,
and refugee crises.
When Stacy Twilley, a volunteer at the charity’s
headquarters and a photography collector, stumbled
onto the cache of photographs, she was amazed by
the quality of the images. Having a background in
publishing, she immediately thought that a book
would be the best way to share the sometimes haunting and difficult-to-look-at images with a wider audience.
“Nobody’s going to hang these on their walls,” says
Ms. Twilley. “A lot of them are too tough to live with.
That’s the challenge of photojournalism.”
Only 30 percent of the photographs in the book
were taken by professionals. The rest were shot by
the group’s employees and volunteers.
As Ms. Twilley winnowed the archive to 800 for
possible inclusion in the book, she sometimes went
through roll after roll of film shot by a doctor or another volunteer. She might look at 300 photographs
before she found the one that really stood out.
“Right place, right time, right light, great composition,” she says. “Everything else on the roll, as a photograph or as an image, maybe didn’t stand up on its
own, but that one was a gem.”
Ms. Twilley recruited the photography curators
from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the J.
Paul Getty Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, along with local collectors, to
select the images that appear in the book.
International Medical Corps has an annual budget of $127-million. Roughly half of the organization’s
funds come from government, while donations of
medicines and other medical supplies account for 40
percent. Donations from individuals, foundations,
and corporations make up the rest.
Volunteers raised money to print 4,000 copies of
the book, which anyone can purchase for $75. Net
proceeds from book sales will be donated to International Medical Corps.
The organization also plans to use the book to increase its visibility among potential donors, says
Nancy Aossey, the group’s chief executive.
“Nothing captures the imagination of a person
more than an image,” she says. “It’s been a great way
to talk about our work, describe what was happening
at the time a photo was taken, and what International Medical Corps was doing to try to help people.”
Here, in a photograph taken by a staff member,
two International Medical Corps employees build a
new well in Darfur.
OF INTERNATIONAL MEDICAL CORPS