Krisanne Johnson’s Kickstarter: From the Series Photojournalism at the Crossroads

Krisanne Johnson—Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund
Krisanne Johnson—Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund
An HIV positive girl, 12, stands near the grave of her father at the family burial ground near their rural home. She has lost both of her parents to AIDS and is now cared for by her HIV positive aunt along with her brother and cousin. She often collects fire wood around the site where many of her extended family are buried.

Photojournalism at the Crossroads is a series from Lightbox that takes a closer look at how photographers are creatively revisiting traditional ways of image making or using the latest digital technology to revitalize the genre and reach a wider audience.

Krisanne Johnson looked to Kickstarter, an online funding platform, to successfully raise the money that enabled her to return to Swaziland to complete her long-term project on HIV/AIDS. “For the past four years,” Johnson explains, “I have been documenting young women coming of age amidst the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Swaziland. A tiny African kingdom of 1 million, Swaziland reports the highest percentage of HIV-positive people in the world, with the hardest hit being young women. For every two young Swazi women, one is HIV-positive. It should come as no surprise that average life expectancy has dropped from 61 years to almost 31 years over the past decade.”

Krisanne Johnson—Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund

A young woman dances and sings with other church members during a Zionist service in rural Swaziland. The pastor often preaches about the HIV epidemic and how neighbors must help care for one another.

“In 2010 I received support from the Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund for a trip back to Swaziland plus additional support and encouragement to promote the project on Kickstarter, an online funding platform for creative projects, to raise additional funds. My project was successfully funded, and the experience proved invaluable.”

Krisanne Johnson—Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund

Phindile, a young HIV positive woman, 26, dresses herself in the traditional wife and mother garb. Her husband has died of AIDS but she can now take care of her son after successfully taking her ARV medication for one year. She is gaining weight back and has noticed a difference in her health.

“[Kickstarter] opened my eyes to the power of independent online fundraising and to the awareness and outreach the project link generated through various social-networking sites. The Kickstarter community has renewed my energy to continue the work and to share the stories of this new generation of Swazi teenagers confronting the unfamiliar challenges of the epidemic.”

For more from the series Photojournalism at the Crossroads

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