Making Photos is Making History

Last week, I attended a Black History Month event in Harlem, hosted by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. I was instantly touched by the words of Ming Smith, who was honored that evening, when she said, “photographs are powerful, and looking at your own photograph makes you powerful.” So true! We create our own history when we snap a picture.

I hope you all had a chance to read the Editor’s Letter in the February issues of Popular Photography
by Miriam Leuchter. She is also Vice President of the Board of Directors at JHP and heads up the development committee. We are so lucky to have her! She shares her observations on a visit to our photography program that takes place at NYU Langone Medical Center with adults suffering from brain injury. A testament to the magic of the camera lens – of all the arts, I find photography to be the most accessible and versatile. With an introduction by a professional, our participants learn hands-on, create, share and connect. Offering a camera to someone who feels cut off because of poverty or illness is an invitation to be part of the world, and make history.


Pop Photo Editor’s Letter: A Photographer’s Legacy



Popular Photography Editor in Chief Miriam Leuchter explains the importance of giving back through photography


Josephine Herrick started her organization in 1941, by photographing young men going to war, and sending the photographs to their loved ones.
The ground-floor gallery at St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights was buzzing one night this spring. Black-and-white photographs—portraits and close-up details of objects—lined the walls, along with heartfelt statements from the 20 photographers. The crowd included the artists’ friends and family, a famous photographer or two, scores of well-wishers, and even a service dog. I was one of two featured speakers (the other was Brendon Stanton, the photographer/founder of the popular Humans of New York street portrait site).The show, “Portraits of Courage,” was the culmination of a photography class for veterans taught at Brooklyn’s V.A. hospital. The vets had spent 10 weeks working with pro photographer Camille Tokerud and creative arts therapist Beryl Brenner to move beyond the snapshot and make images with a voice all their own. Partnering with the V.A. to create, teach, and support the program with cameras and printing was the Josephine Herrick Project.I wrote about this organization here about three years ago, before I joined its board of directors. Then it was called Rehabilitation Through Photography, a name that served it well for much of its 72 years. But we recently decided to change the name to honor its founder. Photographer Josephine Herrick started it by marshalling volunteers to take portraits of servicemen at the dawn of the World War II, and later retooled it to teach photography to wounded veterans. While extending instruction and equipment to a variety of other underserved people—including kids and adults with autism, at-risk teens, and the formerly homeless—Herrick and those directors who followed hewed to the same mission. It’s enshrined in our new tagline: “Enhancing lives through photography.”Thanks to incredibly generous donations by Canon, Fujifilm, Pentax, Sony, and other camera makers and members of the Photoimaging Manufacturers and Distributors Association (PMDA), I no longer have to repeat my request for your old cameras. We have new ones! But I urge you to think about how you might be able to help, whether as a donor or a volunteer. Visit our website at and follow us on social media. Order our books of photos from recent students—including the Brooklyn veterans—and from its fascinating archives on Keep an eye out this fall for a show at the Leica Gallery in New York City and for the photography auction we’re putting together.

The Josephine Herrick Project, though small on funding, has a very big impact on the lives of those it touches. With your support it will flourish, grow, and keep enhancing lives through photography for decades to come.