Wallis and McGrath joined forces in 2010 and now collaborate on many projects. We take advantage of our diverse backgrounds in news, photojournalism, development work, travel writing and photography to bring exciting and individual stories to clients and readers the world over.
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Prompted by her interactions while traveling in the Middle East and Asia, she created the Empowerment Through Art program in Africa with the goal of providing artistic services to members of vulnerable communities as a means of education, psycho-social care, disseminating vital public health information and enriching social and emotional development. By engaging these communities, Empowerment Through Art promoted awareness and inspired advocacy by allowing community members to share their stories. Organizing a touring exhibition of Ugandan artwork in the United States and Europe, Li also authored the system’s program manual, educational materials for U.S. schools, produced a documentary telling the Empowerment Through Art story and hosted a large scale event highlighting the work at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts.
In 2007 Li founded the educational organization Artfully AWARE, which maintained Special Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and was a member of the Clinton Global Initiative and the United Nations Global Compact. The organization utilized creativity as an important tool for social improvement and emotional recovery of persons who experienced traumatic events, disabilities or inadequate living conditions. Over the years, it advocated for human rights by developing and participating in numerous events and exhibitions to represent communities’ issues and challenges through celebrations of cultural diversity and identity. One such event was held at the New Orleans Museum of Art where Li coordinated the participation of more than 100 community groups including schools, health centers, professional dancers, Mardi Gras Indians, poets, film directors and painters to celebrate the rich diversity of the city.
Li served on the Board of Directors for The World Affairs Council of New Orleans and has taught guest workshops and given presentations at the Arizona Refugee Resettlement Annual Conference, Arts in Education program at Harvard University, Peace Corps Uganda Headquarters, International School of Uganda, Syracuse University London Center and Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
As a result of her experiences traveling in eighty countries, Li strongly believes in the power of social action to build bridges of understanding between our own culture and the cultures of others. She currently undertakes editorial / documentary assignments and project consultancy work.
University of Florida. Gainesville, FL – Bachelor of Science in Journalism and Communications (1997-2001)
FSU London Study Center. London, UK – Independent Study in British History and Politics (1999 – 2000)
As a freelance photojournalist based in Los Angeles, he covered breaking news including the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, 2008 U.S. presidential election, the Writers Guild of America strike, U.S. subprime mortgage crisis, numerous California wildfires and NASCAR. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent and Le Monde among other international publications, and he continues to be represented by Sipa Press Photo Agency based in New York City.
Intrigued by the numerous examples of modernist housing in his adopted home of Los Angeles, he approached leading modernist architect, Cory Buckner, author of A. Quincy Jones (Phaidon Press, 2007), and was offered the lead photographer role in her architecture book Crestwood Hills: The Chronicle of a Modern Utopia (Hennessey & Ingalls, 2015). The book charts the early history of Crestwood Hills – one of the few fully realized postwar cooperative housing projects in the state of California – to contemporary times.
Rounding off six years in the USA, John returned to London in 2012 to manage and tutor at the exclusive Leica Academy in Mayfair. He was responsible for creating and presenting bespoke and group photography workshops with an emphasis on the legendary Leica M camera – the tool which pioneered modern day photography – to media, VIPs and photographers. He was chosen to launch the digital version of the M camera through a promotional film, and he continues to work closely on assignments for the iconic camera maker.
John has been a regular writer and contributor to Black + White Photography magazine where he wrote his own monthly column, Viewfinder, on the subject of metaphorical and literal photographic journeys which took him to the islands of Madeira, Malta, Bali and the Philippines. His photographic musings led to further written features for The Independent newspaper, Rouleur cycling magazine, Digital Photographer magazine and The Telegraph Online. This caught the attention of Adobe where he is currently an Adobe Partner and member of the Adobe Influencer Program.
John was the stills photographer for Director Andrew Piddington’s latest film Sins Of A Father, starring Lambert Wilson, and produced by Graham Leader (producer of In The Bedroom – nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture in 2002). This unique remake of the original film required the producer to reassemble the key surviving members of the original cast twenty five years after the first film, starring Alan Bates. Sins of a Father premiered at The Santa Barbara International Film Festival in 2015 and has invoked comparisons to Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, in the scope of its achievement.
Traveling and working extensively in the USA, John has experienced living on a houseboat in Seattle, a cabin in Maine, a tent in the backwoods of Idaho and a cottage in the canyons of Southern California. A stint as a laboring crew member for the US National Forestry Service, repairing trails without the aid of power tools deep in the wilderness areas of Montana and Idaho, led him to reconsider the relationship between man and the landscape. During this formative experience, he acquired an appreciation of low-impact camping and minimizing the human footprint on the environment. He continues to apply these learnings to his present life on the road.
Kent Institute of Art & Design (KIAD). Kent, UK – HND BTEC Advertising & Editorial Photography (1990-1992)
Chelsea College of Art & Design. London, UK – Bachelor of Arts with Honors in Public Art & Design (1995-1997)