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Wesley Verhoeve

Photographer/Writer/Director

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Wesley is a Brooklyn-based photographer and multi-disciplinary creative, often found exploring creative communities across the United States, camera in hand.

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Application

Q: In 200 characters or less, why do you want be part of #PassportToAsia?
A: Photography and writing can be solitary. I need alone time to best take in, process, and share stories I encounter. Yet, I also need and believe in community. I’d love to combine these more in 2016.
Q: In 200 characters or less, tell us which of the following monkey attributes best describes you: Intelligent, curious, quick-witted, versatile, or mischievous. Why?
A: My grandmother, as well as a former teacher, both described me as “infinitely curious”, which is how I describe my “super power”. I can’t stop it, and hope it never goes away. It’s given me so much.
Q: What is your creative pursuit? How might #PassportToAsia play a role in developing it?
A: Despite my fascination with its diverse cultures and food, I have never set foot in Asia outside of India 10 years ago. It’s a big gap in my experience as a traveling photographer/writer. I’d love to have this be a warm first step towards a greater understanding and an increased ability to find and share important stories from this continent.

Secondly, I’d love to get better at sharing, giving and learning within a community of creatives, rather than pursuing it as such a solitary craft.

Q: Why is travel important?
A: On a personal level, travel has been important for me, because it helps take me out of my own head and focus on other people’s lives and challenges. Generally, I also believe travel to be meaningful in contributing to an overall increase in the level of empathy for all that are touched by the stories gathered and shared. Good travel, to me, involves a lot more listening than it does talking. And when thoughtfully and with a genuine interest in learning about the authentic elements of our hosting community.

I think about this a lot these days. Especially, when I see entire groups of people dehumanized by politicians and pundits creating a culture of fear around the “other”. Travel increases the diversity of stories we can capture and be exposed to, and storytelling at its best can make us feel more connected and less alone. We can create empathy by exposing people to stories that turn an opaque group into a collection of individuals with relatable human experiences. And when we see all of our shared humanity in people’s stories, it’s nearly impossible to be unkind. This might sound lofty to some, but it’s how I’ve chosen to think about my craft as a traveling photographer/writer.

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