Fair Trade Futures Conference

A little more than a week ago I had the pleasure of meeting and mingling with hundreds of like minded folks at the Fair Trade Futures Conference in Boston. This event brought together leaders, advocates, consumers, and entrepreneurs all looking toward an ever more hopeful future. A future where Fair Trade will begin to move to the main stream. Having begun my journey into Fair Trade in the mid 1990’s I felt equally proud and excited to participate in this event. It has come as no surprise to me that the ground swell of conscious consumers continues to grow (and in some cases shock those out there sleep walking through their grocery stores and gift shops and big box stores). As a very wise mentor once said to me, “Fair Trade does not have to mean no profit”, on the contrary, in my opinion the more it moves toward the main stream, the better. Do I hear an Amen??

My background in photography began before I was even a teenager, and now, after being self employed since 1988 here I was, in a place filled with opportunity and inspiration on so many levels. I currently shoot (mostly small products) for marketing departments and corporations and one very large Fair Trade organization, Ten Thousand Villages. I have enjoyed and suffered along with the ups and downs of the economy more than once. In 1995, after shooting on film for most of my life I decided to take the leap to digital photography. I was what they called an early adopter and we lived on the bleeding edge of technology. Now, though at first I could not imagine how an image could exist without celluloid, I can’t imagine ever going back to film. It is still an art form and I would be hesitant to predict when or if it will ever completely go away. But I have come to a cross roads on my career path and want now more than ever to wade into good-for-the-world commerce. I want to figure out how I fit into the mosaic of the fair trade, eco conscious, green, organic, humane, holistic, sustainable, new world economy.  While I cannot fathom completely discarding my skills as a visual problem solver I know where my talents lie, and feel I am like the proverbial old dog trying to learn new tricks. I have watched the rise of the design blog, the creative intensity of websites like Etsy, the progression of technology that has put the power of image creation into the hands of masses. Without a doubt, it It is time to make yet another shift.

So without further deliberation, through this blog I have decided to offer my expertise to the entrepreneurs out there struggling to bring their fellow businesswomen (and men) hope, empowerment and dignity wrapped into a fabric of Fair Trade commerce. I am going to begin offering uncluttered, practical advice to those who want to pick up a camera and venture into new territory themselves as they construct eCom sites, blogs, catalogs and whatever else technology may throw at us. Like a lot of things I have done before, I’m prepared to take my lumps. I know it is a risk but have a gut feeling it’s the right thing to do. Not only is it what I can offer, but at the same time, and  in the spirit of the transparency, it may be the only way to survive as a professional photographer with an eye turned towards sustainability.

So here you will find tips on how to improve your photos, a place to have conversations about specific challenges and hopefully, some empowerment and inspiration. I’m a little worried about the care and feeding of a blog, so I have asked a few brave souls to help me get started. My gratitude to them is very deep.

If you are inclined to learn even more about me (I know I am probably the most fascinating person you will ever meet :-)  you can go to my corporate website to learn more about my work, see photos of my studio and hear all about the green barn renovation we did that now houses the studio.

I look forward to helping you find your own Calico Eyes.


About Chris Armstrong

Christine Armstrong is a conscious consumer and professional photographer with over 25 years of real world experience shooting for corporate America. In 1996, her journey into Fair Trade began when a SERRV catalog arrived in her mailbox....
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3 Responses to Fair Trade Futures Conference

  1. Pingback: “Why” is the juice behind going green « Maryland Energy and Sustainability Co-op Blog

  2. Chris — this is wonderful! Your vision and passion about the environment really shine through in so much of how you live your life, what you spend money on, and now — yay!! — the message and support that you put out there.

    The world needs more of this. Specifically, it needs you. I am reminded of this quote from Dr. Howard Thurmond: Ask not what the world needs; rather, ask what makes you come alive and go do that, for what the world needs is people who have come alive. (It’s one of my “Weekly Green” quotes: http://www.GoForChange.com/2010/10/03/the-weekly-green-juice-for-the-journey-16/

    Let me know if you ever want a guest post. I love giving advice on green business.


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