Tiff Gravel- Humanitarian, Photographer, Filmmaker
“To function within different societies in extreme situations, sometimes the morals that a person holds. you have to put them aside. You have to sort of go with the morals of the society in which you are working. The blurry lines of right and wrong and what we think is right and what they think is right… If I went around trying to tell them, “Oh, do it my way, this is the way it should be done.,,,” I’ve come to appreciate cultures for what they are and to respect other people’s points of view; to try to stand in their shoes and see the world from their eyes. I’ve been able to witness life outside of what the media tells you and shows you. Very much unedited.” – Tiff Gravel
It is humbling to remember that we really have no idea who we are standing in front of when we are dealing with one another.
Julia and I have a friend named Tiff who we met while she filming music videos for a mutual friend. We were very struck by her being. So when we had the chance to connect while she was local, we were both excited.
This week we met at our favorite hang out spot in Nyack, NY, the Art Cafe and Tiff told us about the work she has been doing. Tiff is young but started even younger. As a film student just graduating college in 2006, she found herself in Uganda as a film maker, ultimately to getting the opportunity to expose the genocide that was going on due to the government wanting the people’s land.
At age 22 it must have been hard to imagine that the work you were doing would change so many ives, but the footage her and her crew took resulted in the liberation of a devastated population from concentration camps in which they had lived for ten years.
After Tiff came back to the states, you could say the universe struck a deal with her being and she ended up working…with The Muppets. She helped the crew with the new movies and promotion and was even presented with her very own Tiff muppet. It was a community that fostered creativity and support.
Last year, a neurologist from an organization called Hope for Humans asked Tiff if she would be willing to go back to Uganda to make a film about Nodding Syndrome, a mysterious disease that affects children with seizures. Tiff told us she thought she would never return. Naivety and excitement propelled the intial trip, but even working with the Muppets couldn’t make her forget what she had seen that first time. Despite her reservations, she spent most of 2015 back in Uganda revisiting some of the villages she had seen in the war. Now she was helping children directly.
Tiff would connect her GoPro camera to a kite to get aerial views. She stayed under radar by sharing the delight with children and bringing them kites as well. It was life affirming seeing these children holding these colorful kites with smiles on their faces. The juxtaposition of these photos with the ones that show how much they are suffering made us aware of the light playing off of each of us. Tiff is able to capture that light even in the darkest places. Take a moment and look at her portfolio and this powerful interview about her work in Uganda and you will see what I mean.
Photos by Tiff Gravel
May the light of beauty play off of your heart ache and reveal the larger landscape.