John and Lisa Merrill are among the fortunate few to turn their passion for photography into a full-time business. As the photographers behind Merrill Images, they have worked with a broad variety of nonprofit clients and businesses to tell compelling visual stories for more than 20 years.
The Merrills first began in travel and culture photography. In 1994, the two took a break from their careers and rented out their home. They then traveled to Africa and Asia, documenting their experiences. Upon their return, they founded Merrill Images and signed contracts with three stock photography agencies. Through working with the stock photography agencies, they were introduced to taking photographs of local nonprofits.
With two decades’ worth of photographs, the Merrills decided they wanted to shine a light on the nonprofits they have worked with over the years.
Now through May 29, photos of nine Eastside nonprofits are on display at the South Bellevue Community Center (SBCC) as part of the Merrills’ Witness to Hope exhibit.
A larger Witness to Hope exhibit recently concluded at the Seattle Foundation highlighting Seattle area nonprofits.
“It’s really nice to shine a light on businesses and nonprofits that serve our communities,” Lisa Merrill said.
Some of the nonprofits highlighted in the Witness to Hope exhibit include Kindering Center, KidsQuest Children’s Museum, Bellevue Boys and Girls Club, Eastside Pathways and Eastside Baby Corner.
The exhibit name, Witness to Hope, was inspired by the Merrill’s perspective of the challenges communities and society face. John said that the need for action is great, as is the need for hope to support that action.
The Merrills consider their photography as “social impact photography” because it serves to tell the stories of local nonprofits and their positive effect in their communities.
Lisa said it’s a privilege to witness and document moments of connection, learning and empowerment that is brought by the organizations.
“This kind of photography strengthens communities,” she said. “It’s our job to tell these stories well.”
At the May 4 debut of the SBCC Witness to Hope exhibit, Lisa will speak more about her and John’s experience doing social impact photography from 10:30-11 a.m.
For more information about the Witness to Hope exhibit or about Merrill Images, go online to https://www.merrillimages.com/index.