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Annie Griffiths began her career in photography by accident. Having all her life thought she'd be a writer, Griffiths found herself in a journalism class at the University of Minnesota not entirely loving her chosen career. She decided to clear her head by taking a break from school and during that time she discovered the camera.

"It was really like falling in love," Griffiths said of that first experience with photography.

Annie is the type of photographer who gets so engrossed in her work that she has been known to forget to put her pants on. Covering a family cattle branding in western Nebraska, Griffiths awoke to a brilliant light coming through her window. The combination of the early morning sun, a mackerel sky and the western landscape had her up and out of bed shooting the scene with relish. As the light faded away she found herself being observed by several cowboys. In her rush to photograph, she'd forgotten to put her pants on. "To me that's the essence of what passionate work should be. You're so focused and you're so fully engaged in what you do that you forget to put your pants on. It's perfect," said Griffiths.

Griffiths has the distinction of being one of the first women photographers hired by National Geographic Magazine. The legendary picture editor Bob Gilka hired her from the small but well-known Worthington Daily Globe in Minnesota. "I know for ten years I was pretty scared. I was the youngest by at least five years and I was one of the only women. I was just sort of keeping my head down and going, ‘I hope they don't figure out that I have absolutely no business being here.' The price you pay for early opportunity is sheer terror. But eventually you grow into it and you gain confidence," said Griffiths.

Griffiths has lived the life of a globe-trotting photojournalist. As she has traveled the world, she has seen certain patterns in the lives of women and girls. In many communities, she saw the undervaluation of the role women could play in society. She saw that when women were empowered in those communities they would lift the lives of all those around them. She also saw firsthand the disproportionate effect climate change was having on poor women and girls.

Ripple Effect Images was born out of these observations.

Griffiths, along with celebrated photojournalists Lynn Johnson and Ami Vitale, as well as cinematographer Michael Davie, decided to create a media cooperative focused on providing visual storytelling tools for organizations that seek to better the lives of women and girls and that focus on the growing impact of climate change on those women and girls.

Additionally, Ripple Effect Images has created an extensive archive of imagery that can be freely accessed by organizations with those same goals.

Griffiths is hoping to provide an important service for those organizations in order that they generate real change for the women and girls they support.

To this Griffiths said, "If you help a women, you help the planet. Pretty much that simple."

Client: Harbers Studios, Ripple Effect Images
Published: September 16, 2013
Individual Films

For 13 years and across 80 countries, Ami Vitale's work has focused on issues surrounding women, poverty and health. It was her desire to see change that led Ami to join Ripple Effect Images. Watch it now.

Inspired by the photographs of the Farm Security Administration growing up, Lynn Johnson has spent nearly 35 years as a photojournalist working for LIFE, National Geographic, Sports Illustrated and various foundations. Watch it now.

Ripple Effect Images is a team of journalists dedicated to documenting poor women and girls around the world, highlighting the programs that are helping to empower them, especially as they deal with the effects of climate change. Watch it now.

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