David Moriya hasn’t had a break from work in weeks.
A freelance photographer with a full plate of scheduled headshots and concerts to shoot, Moriya has recently taken on a new gig: documenting the resistance to President Donald Trump and his administration.
He calls it the Resistance Photography Project, and he’s donating his most striking images to nonprofits, free of charge, to use on their websites and social platforms.
Earlier this week, he stayed up until 5 a.m. editing photos from the #NotMyPresidentDay protest in New York City. He took 4,200 photos throughout the course of the Feb. 21 demonstration, but he’s struggled to find time to pore over the images between his regularly scheduled shoots.
He says the struggle, however, is worth it.
Moriya started the project the day after the 2016 election, photographing demonstrations in reaction to Trump’s win, and sharing portraits of protesters with the subjects themselves. He knew he could take photos with his camera, send them to his phone and then send the pictures directly to protesters in real time.
“Here’s your photo. Now, use it to make a visual presence on the internet.”
“I remember seeing all these photos of old protests and demonstrations, and being really inspired by it,” he said. “I wanted people to have their photos from the protest. Very candid, real photos.”
At the Not My President rallies taking place in November 2016, he sent out his images for free with a simple message: “Here’s your photo. Now, use it to make a visual presence on the internet.”
“I may lose a couple of minutes and 10 photos by emailing a person their photo from my phone, but to get that person their photo is my most rewarding thing,” Moriya said.
But Moriya soon realized his photography could have a bigger impact, especially for nonprofits who usually can’t afford to send a photographer to protests. Since he was already doing the work, he started sending out emails to organizations with Dropbox links to photos.
“If you need them, great. Use them,” he told the nonprofits. “They are all yours.”
So far, Moriya has gone to nine demonstrations since the inauguration, and four other anti-Trump events. At every protest, he wears a red jacket patterned with progressive buttons, hoping to make himself easily recognizable to people and nonprofits wanting to learn more about the project.
Organizations like the New York Civil Liberties Union, the Council on American-Islamic Relations and others have all used his donated images.
While he does take personal donations to help fund his work, Moriya said donating images as a freelance photographer obviously comes with a sizable financial burden. But the work, he insisted, is still rewarding.
“I’ve never been an activist before,” he said. “I’m jumping into it right now — and it is definitely a second job.”
Moriya’s goal is to grow the project, so it includes other photographers interested in donating their time and work. He plans to keep the project “going and growing” until the government changes — a point he said he can’t even think about, because he doesn’t see that change happening anytime soon.
“This was never in my career goals, so it has definitely shifted my life in a different direction,” he said. “But I want to keep going. I want peace. That’s what I want. And maybe when that happens, I’ll take a break.”