March 21, 2016

DE PERE, WIS. - Lisa Kristine was 11 when her aunt and uncle gave her an Olympus 35 mm camera. From a converted darkroom in her home in California, she developed black-and-white film and printed images of family and friends.

"They weren't the typical 'everybody say cheese' images," said Kristine.

Even then, her photos had depth and emotion. "They were definitely more about solitude and looking for the infinity in somebody."

It is this creative, photographic eye and a deep fascination with people that has taken Kristine around the world photographing indigenous people in remote locations. It is also those two traits that have launched a new mission in her work: humanitarian photographer who captures images of modern slavery.

Kristine's work to expose global human trafficking led to her invitation at a ceremony Dec. 2, 2014, at the Vatican. Held on the UN Day for the Abolition of Slavery, Kristine witnessed 12 religious leaders, including Pope Francis, sign a pledge to help end modern slavery in the world by 2020.

On March 1, Kristine spoke at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisc.

In an interview, she said her fascination with different cultures launched a career in humanitarian photography. She has traveled to more than 100 countries in six continents capturing images of people from indigenous cultures.

"Initially it was to go out and learn from these people, who I felt had such a rich history, to see what it was that brought them meaning," she said.

Through her work, Kristine was invited to exhibit photographs at the Vancouver Peace Summit in 2009. "It was there that I learned about human slavery," she said.

"I knew . . . there was some trafficking, but then when I learned there are 30-plus million people, I was so taken aback," said Kristine.


She began a relationship with Free the Slaves, a nongovernmental organization based in Washington. It led her to places such as India, Ghana and Nepal where she has photographed children, women and families who are modern-day slaves working as fishermen, gold miners, quarry labourers and prostitutes.

"That entire body of work is specifically intended to raise awareness about (human slavery), to raise funding and to help groups eradicate it," said Kristine.

During her presentation, Kristine shared many of her images of people living as slaves.


"Every day I think of these people," she told the audience. "People who I've had the tremendous honour of meeting. I want to shine a light on slavery and I want all of you to find it in yourselves to make a difference."

She also stated that human slavery is not limited to developing countries.

"The fascinating and frightening thing to me about slavery is that, all of this time, it's been existing right in front of us without us knowing," she said. "It's sort of hidden in plain sight because the idea is that it doesn't exist."

(To view images from Kristine's collection on human trafficking, visit