Close Up: Videographer Volunteer Irina Smirnova

“If we all focus on what we want instead of fighting against what we hate, we can all discover the unlimited potential and power within ourselves.”   Irina Smirnova, Volunteer Videographer

Irina contacted Maureen McNeil, Executive Director at JHP about volunteering after an introduction to the organization by board member Matthew Sweetwood, owner of Unique Photo in NJ. Irina captured some amazing video segments during the Footstep program on The High Line earlier this month. Irina will next video the Independent Care System in Brooklyn.


 Irina enjoying a pause during the JHP Footstep program photo outing on the famous NYC landmark, The High Line.


When she was twelve years old, Irina Smirnova was presented with a simple film camera.  She spent many happy hours in her father’s homemade darkroom, watching her photographs come to life through chemical process. Though she didn’t know it then, that camera was the first of many that would help guide her path through life. Today she is an enthusiastic, professional photographer, a woman who strives to capture the essence of the subjects she finds in front of her lens. As Irina says, “Every single person has a story.”

Irina’s story began in Europe, where her eye for fine style was honed. Though photography always held a fascination for Irina, she moved away from it for several years and pursued a career as a software engineer. Hungry for new experiences, Irina traveled across the ocean and settled in the greater New York area – but she soon confronted the nagging certainty that something was lacking from her life. It wasn’t long before Irina dove into photography courses, experimented with her camera and found a firm foundation for her photography career.

She began taking photography seriously in 2008, delving into work for individual clients, and by 2010 she had opened her own studio. Today, Irina specializes in commercial photography, shooting creative portraiture for business, marketing, advertising and editorial campaigns, capturing messages that clients need to convey through visuals. Open-minded and welcoming, Irina is the kind of person who makes you want to open up, and that translates into images that reflect trust between subject and photographer.

Ever the consummate professional, Irina has built up an impressive network of makeup, hair and wardrobe stylists, as well as other production assistants to help bring even the most intricate concepts to life. She firmly believes that a carefully selected team opens up possibilities that take any work beyond expectation – to create something fresh, new and exciting.

Irina sees imagery as a powerful tool, and she combines her gift with the desire to help others. To that end, Dream Responsibly Productions was launched in 2012. Through creative and thought-provoking video and photography, Dream Responsibly Productions strives to inspire, inform and invent new ways to enhance lives of those touched by its creative works.

Deeply committed to social consciousness, Irina and her team work with various media agencies, communities, advertising, public relations and charitable organizations to focus on the greater good, creating works of art that inspire ideas and action. As Irina describes her vision, “If we all focus on what we want instead of fighting against what we hate, we can all discover the unlimited potential and power within ourselves.”

Irina is a member of the New York Women in Communications (NYWICI), New Jersey Creatives Network (NJCN) and the Advertising Club of New York (AdClub). Her professionalism is rivaled only by her heart: Irina gives ten percent of all her business income to charity each year.

Are you interested in becoming a videographer for the Josephine Herrick Project? Send us an email at



Non-Profit Financial Wiz Elected to JHP Board of Directors

Russell Pomeranz joins the JHP Board to bring his non-profit and financial expertise as the organization expands programs and services.

We are excited to announce a new board member for Josephine Herrick Project.  Russell Pomeranz brings a strong background in the non-profit arena, as well as, financial expertise and photography affinity. Maureen McNeil, Executive Director of Josephine Herrick project commented that  “Russ is a wonderful addition to our board because of his financial expertise in the nonprofit world. Particularly intriguing is his experience growing programs at the Vera Institute as JHP is primed to grow and his keen interest in photography through his many years of involvement with ICP.”

Russell Pomeranz has twenty five years experience leading the finance and administrative departments of nonprofit organizations with missions related to social services, education, the arts, and think tanks.   Most recently, Pomeranz started his own consulting firm, The Claverack Advisory Group, to focus on the critical connection between the nonprofit financial function and organizational programmatic, strategic, and financial trajectories.

Before establishing a consulting practice, Pomeranz was the COO / CFO of the Vera Institute of Justice, a $20 million criminal justice think tank.  During his tenure, he helped spin-off financially viable nonprofits such as Esperanza.   Prior to that, he was Director of Finance at the Council of Foreign Relations (a $30 million foreign policy think tank with a $150 million investment pool); CFO at Spence Chapin Services to Families and Children; and held senior Finance and administrative positions with Meet The Composer and the International Center of Photography.  Pomeranz’s nonprofit career began at the Maret School in Washington D.C. where he was the Business Manager and taught Geometry and Economics.He is currently an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Public Administration at NYU Wagner.

Pomeranz currently chairs the Workforce Professionals Development Institute (WPTI), is a board member of Jobpath, Center for Family Life, Economic Mobility, Berkshire Taconic Center for Non-Profit Excellence and is on the Finance Committee for the Staten Island Community Charter School  He has been published in The New York Times, Chronicle of Philanthropy, The Wall Street Journal,  and the CPA Journal.   He has a degree in Economics from Haverford College and an MBA from the University of Michigan.


Celebrate World Photography Day…Photography has the Power to Change the World

Today is World Photography Day.  Korske Ara, the founder of World Photography Day created this special day with a simple but compelling concept:  “I believe that photography has the power to tell stories, inspire generations and initiate change in the world.”  Here at the Josephine Herrick Project we have seen first hand how photography can change a child or an adult and inspire them to reach further and see the world with a different vision. Todd Adelman, Director of Special Projects for Block Institute, one of our program partners attests to the power of photography: “The cameras and instruction that [JHP] offers makes a remarkable difference to what an organization can offer to its participants’ quality of life. They are no longer defined by their disability but can live up to their full potential. Learning photography teaches them to open their eyes, appreciate, participate and be a partner in the world around them”.

So today on World Photography Day I encourage you to go out and take a meaningful picture about how photography has changed your world and share them on our Facebook page today:

You can also make a difference on World Photography Day by buying a JHP book or donating to JHP to help us  the change the world of the participants in our programs through the power of photography.

About World Photography Day
World Photography Day originates from the invention of the Daguerreotype, a photographic processes developed by Joseph Nicèphore Nièpce and Louis Daguerre. On January 9, 1839, The French Academy of Sciences announced the daguerreotype process. A few months later, on August 19, 1839, the French government announced the invention as a gift “Free to the World”.

Another photographic processes, the Calotype, was also invented in 1839 by William Fox Talbot (it was announced in 1841). Together, the invention of both the Daguerreotype and Calotype mark 1839 as the year that photography was invented.

Over 170 years later, we have chosen this date, August 19th to celebrate photography, It’s past, present and future, technologically and artistically. Today, we can share memories across the globe in seconds. Photography is an invention that has revolutionised the way we see the world. We can visit places without leaving our home. We can share adventures with friends in another city and we can watch grandchildren grow up thousands of kilometers away. There was once a time when photography didn’t exist.

World Photography Day is about celebrating the ability we have to communicate though this powerful visual medium.

Read more:

Modern Photography Masterworks Up for Bid at JHP Benefit

Continuing the Legacy of Josephine Herrick, Pioneer of Using Photography to Help Those in Need   

NEW YORK, August 9, 2013—In the 1940s, Josephine Herrick was a budding photographer with a novel idea: put cameras in the hands of wounded WWII servicemen and guide them through the rehabilitative power of photography.  On November 4 the Josephine Herrick Project, the organization that bears her name and fulfills her inspiration with today’s veterans, autistic children and others, will auction more than 40 dazzling images from celebrated modern photographers as a fundraiser. The 2013 Modern Masters in Photography Benefit Auction will take place at the Aperture Gallery, 547 West 27th Street, New York City. Tickets are $150 per person, available at

The benefit consists of a silent auction of artwork, portrait sittings, gallery tours and camera equipment and a live auction conducted by a Christie’s auctioneer.  Attendees will have a chance to acquire a signed print from modern masters, including Amy Arbus, Ralph Gibson, Mike Yamahsita, Phil Borges, Art Wolfe, Pulitzer Prize winner Jay Dickman, Douglas Kirkland, former White House photojournalist Barbara Kinney, longtime United Nations photographer John Isaac and Ron Haviv, author of Blood & Honey: A Balkan War Journal.   Also included are images from the Man Ray Trust.

These artists join a heritage of illustrious photographers who, through donations of their work, have supported the organization’s mission to enhance lives through photography.  Thirty-five years ago at its last auction, attendees bid on images by Ansel Adams, Margaret Bourke-White, Edward Steichen, Irving Penn and others. The event this year likewise may feature potential investment pieces by contemporary photographers.

The Josephine Herrick Project creates programs, exhibitions and publications and currently provides equipment, curriculum and volunteer photography teachers to more than 20 programs in New York City.  It partners with several agencies and hospitals, including the Brooklyn VA, Block Institute, Gallop/NYC, Creedmoor Psychiatric Center and Beacon University Settlement.

The organization was formerly known as Rehabilitation Through Photography, but a name change in June was made to honor its founder. “The benefit auction, revived after a long hiatus, is another way to share Josephine Herrick’s long-lasting influence with the American public,” said Maureen McNeil, who joined as director in September 2012.  “We will be celebrating evening of cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and sensational photography. We look forward to sharing this moment with our supporters, programs, photographers and friends.” she added.

Herrick earned much acclaim from the New York photography and medical communities in her lifetime. She worked closely with Dr. Howard Rusk, considered the father of rehabilitative medicine, who invited her to develop therapeutic photography programs for patients at the Rusk Institute. 

Herrick began using a camera for charitable causes in 1941. She enlisted friends to take pictures of servicemen departing to war. Her team of volunteers then sent each serviceman’s photo to his family along with a personalized note. After the war, her organization took shape, teaching camera skills and self-expression to wounded veterans to help heal the emotional scars of war.  Eventually, the group began receiving requests to develop programs for schools, hospitals, senior centers and social service agencies.

About The Josephine Herrick Project

The Josephine Herrick Project is a New York City-based nonprofit, founded in 1941, that enlists photographic community volunteers and the industry to provide equipment and photography skills to underserved populations. JHProject’s free programs inspire children, teens, veterans, adults and seniors with the visual language of photography, which enables them to engage with others and in their communities through their artistic vision.



Doug Kirkland’s portrait of Audrey Hepburn will be among the signed works donated by today’s top photographers to be auctioned at a benefit for the Josephine Herrick Project on November 4 at the Aperture Gallery.  For information and to order tickets to the event, visit


Angel’s Trumpet by Elizabeth Opalenick is among the signed photographic works up for bid at the 2013 Modern Masters in Photography Benefit Auction. The event, a fundraiser for The Josephine Herrick Project, takes place November 4 at the Aperture Gallery. For information and to order tickets to the event, visit