Webby for Good is a collaborative program formed by The Webby Awards and WP Engine to showcase Webby-recognized projects built to change the world.

Describe your Webby-nominated project. What’s the elevator pitch?

President Obama granted clemency to 1,715 people—mostly nonviolent drug offenders serving sentences in federal prison—more than any other president in history. Through beautiful photos and powerful words, Nation of Second Chances tells their stories.

Why this particular cause as the subject of your project/campaign? Was there a moment that inspired it?

Nation of Second Chances is a project I've launched on my own, but comes out of my work at Change.org where I'm Director of Campaigns & Partnerships. I helped over 100 families of incarcerated people start online petitions about clemency, totaling over 2.2 million signatures, and developed strong friendships with both the families and the prisoners by helping them tell their stories and find support. Over 24 of those people received clemency and so it's been wonderful to finally meet many of them in person through Nation of Second Chances.

What concerns were there about pursuing this idea? How did you get past them?

I was worried that people may not want to share their stories, that they would want to move on from that part of their lives now that they had regained their freedom. What I found instead was that every person felt that if their story could help change minds about who is in prison, and help those who were left behind in Obama's clemency initiative (there were many), they are proud to share their stories.

What was the most rewarding aspect of working on your project? What did you learn in the process that you didn't know/expect going into it?

Every person has thanked me for caring about them and their families, and the people who are still incarcerated for drug offenses, enough to tell their stories. For decades these people didn't have an audience or a platform so providing that to them through photography and storytelling has been so rewarding.

What real-world impact were you hoping to make with this project? Did the real-world impact meet your expectations?

Nation of Second Chances seeks to humanize people who spent decades in prison under harsh drug laws, many first time offenders, and help them tell their stories in their own voices. My goal is to demonstrate the wonderful things these people are doing with freedom, and hopefully change the minds of those who opposed Obama's historic clemency initiative.

Was the tech/medium you chose crucial to conveying your message? If so, why?

Photography was essential to this project. The photos are stunning and I believe help readers realize that people who were once or are currently incarcerated aren't who we've been led to believe they are. Once they see a photo and attach a story filled with pain and injustice, they can see that this could be their neighbor, sibling, or child. They're human.

What was the most significant challenge that arose during your work on this?

The biggest challenge was funding and time. This whole project was done with a $6,000 grant so to be nominated for a Webby Award alongside such beautiful projects created by National Geographic, ESPN, and UN Refugee Agency is just incredible.

How will you use technology in future work to create inspiring, cutting-edge projects that also make a difference in people’s lives?

I'm really hoping to shift from photography to video in late 2018, either through the creation of a feature-length documentary or series that profiles these individual stories.

Credits

  • Creative Director Jonathan Perri Nation of Second Chances

About the Best Use of Photography category

Only photography as it's used throughout the site is judged. Geared toward sites that rely heavily on photographic imagery as a critical part of the user experience.