James Crichlow shot his first photos when he was 11.
His mother won a trip around the world and pulled him out of school for six weeks, on the condition he would turn in a massive report about the trip when he returned. For a young Black boy in Texas who often felt out-of-place, it was an exciting opportunity.
But the dream vacation didn’t go as planned. During their travels, Crichlow’s mom fell ill, becoming too sick to go on excursions. In Amsterdam, Paris and Venice, she was too sick to even leave the hotel. James grabbed the camera and went for her, accompanying a Canadian couple and three nurses from Hong Kong that served as chaperones and mentors. He captured images of buildings, people, art and all the moments in Europe that spoke to an 11-year-old’s heart.
“To say that it profoundly affected me is an understatement,” he said. “You realize the world is bigger than you, bigger than your home state, bigger than your country. At 11, it felt like the coolest thing ever, and I'm forever grateful for Mom making that trip happen.”
Issues with his mother’s health cut the trip short, forcing them to fly home after visiting Rome. But a new passion for photography had flickered into being in James’ life, one he would kindle into a fire over the years, capturing images and emotions as a newspaper photojournalist and professional photographer.
Those skills, that art form, are still doing good in the world. Although Crichlow is now the Marketing and Communications Director at Atlantic Logistics, he recently relied on his photography skills to benefit a local non-profit for his Day of Service, a paid day off that allows employees to give back to the community in the manner of their choosing.
He chose to donate his time to Ability Housing.
Ability Housing, which works to build vibrant communities by providing the most vulnerable members of the community with safe, affordable housing and support, had worked with Crichlow in the past.
“James was hired a few years back to do some photography work for our CEO. She had won some awards,” said Tanya Adams, Director of Development & Engagement at Ability Housing. “I got to know him then and later hired him to shoot some of our properties. Most of those are on our website.”
Because of his previous connection with Ability Housing, James already knew they had a need that he was specifically qualified to fill.
“There was always talk that they needed headshots for their entire team, so instead of them paying for it, I thought I’d just donate it since I’m pretty much retired from the photography game,” Crichlow said.
“So, I reached out and they were thrilled. Like any nonprofit, they rely heavily on donations and I’ve got a soft spot for them. Anyone who wants to help anyone struggling secure long-term housing is someone I want to help. Period. I mean as Americans how can we turn our backs on our fellow citizens that need a hand? If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that essential workers need to be valued and need a decent, safe place to live. If those images help them secure a bigger donation, then I will have done my part.”
Over the course of two days, Crichlow met with the entire staff at Ability Housing, shooting headshots in four-hour blocks. The location shoot went off without a hitch, and although the weather is usually good this time of year, things can be hit or miss which can sometimes affect costs.
“It’s pretty expensive to do a photoshoot for an entire staff and we got it done in two days,” Adams said. “The pictures will probably be up on the website next week. It’s huge to be able to have that. It’s going to take us to the next level and it’s something we would have had to work into our budget or fundraise for, so it’s just an incredible gift to be given. This opportunity was just fabulous for us.”
Atlantic Logistics was founded in 2001 as a woman-owned business and experienced record growth in 2021, moving over 30,000 loads and generating $41 million in total revenue. Utilizing the industry’s latest technologies such as load-tracking, digital freight matching and transportation management software, the company is prospering. Professional partners including McLeod Software have maximized Atlantic Logistics' resources to meet logistics and supply chain challenges into 2022 and beyond.