An interviewer once asked photographer Jeremy Cowart why it is important to pursue one's passion. Cowart answered, "The other day, I passed a guy at my office building and I asked him, 'How are you doing?' His response: 'It's just another day.' I hope I never ever answer that question with that response."
Each day is a treasure, an opportunity, a long string of moments ripe with passion. In reading or listening to Jeremy Cowart, that word—passion—appears over and over again, like a mantra. Literally, passion means "ardent love" or "boundless enthusiasm." Few people live with passion; fewer still can artistically capture it. Cowart has an even rarer gift of capturing those frozen moments and using them to inspire passion in others.
Cowart began in painting, then moved into graphic design. Originally, his photography was meant to be only one component of his graphic design projects. By 2005, Cowart's love of pixels took over his craft and he devoted himself to photography full-time. His work quickly drew the attention of a photography agent, and soon he was landing images in some of the most popular magazines in the nation. His portrait work runs a gamut stretching from well-known singers to celebrities.
Most photographers would find that such gigs define their careers. Cowart is a different sort of person. For him, success is a means to an end—a "platform," as he often calls it. After only three years as a professional photographer, Cowart used his platform to launch a three-month, 17-country odyssey called the Passion World Tour. This project resulted in Awakening, a unique, vibrant look at young adults from across the globe and the shared energy binding them together. In late 2009, Cowart founded Help-Portrait, a global effort of over 15,000 photographers using their resources to take portraits of the needy and provide them with a hard copy—perhaps the only loving view they've seen of themselves in decades. In early 2010, after a shattering earthquake struck Haiti, Cowart saw the chance to use his passion. He wandered the rubble, saw what the stricken people saw, and produced the deeply moving Voices of Haiti. More recently, in response to the global pandemic, Jeremy reimagined the traditional photoshoot into a digitally teleported experience. His current projects are the tele-photo series #lovetransported and #separatetogether.
"The projects have all had different impacts," says Cowart. "The Haiti project went on to be displayed in the halls of the U.N. in New York in front of all our government leaders, and it helped to raise a lot of money [$10 billion] for Haiti. But the biggest of all, Help-Portrait, which is ongoing, has changed many thousands of lives through the power of a photo. The stories of how that's impacted people are endless."
For Cowart, his platform exists to illuminate and elevate, to reveal the beauty around us and inspire people to help.