41. The Art of Friendship with Humanitarian Photographer Fawn Anderson

Fawn Anderson

Humanitarian Photographer & Social Movement Founder

It’s All About Connection

Fawn Anderson is a humanitarian-focused photographer and founder of Our Friendly World, a social movement and podcast that is for the healing of social, economic & racial injustice through the art of friendship. This episode is all about connection: from how to take engaging portraits that honour your subject to embracing friendship in its many forms. By the end, you may want to take up martial arts and even try bending spoons… with your mind!

Fawn’s Links


  • Burnout by Emily & Amelia Nagoski. “It talks about emotions and what burnout really is and how to get out of that burnout. And I think actually that’s the key to the fall of friendship—the fall of our relationships in our society. We’re all burnt out. There’s no capacity to be outgoing. We’re in survival mode”.

How to Photograph People

Conscious photography

That means connecting with your subject on a soul level. Ever thought, “Ugh… is that what I really look like?” when someone takes a photo of you? Well, join the club. That’s what Fawn thought too, until she realised that “if you’re not consciously aware of who or what you’re photographing, if you’re not connecting with them on a soul level or on a deep level, you’re just gonna pick up some randomness…”

Compassionate lighting

In taking portraits or making films, show care and respect for the people you work with by taking time to properly capture the texture of their skin, whether it’s dark or light. As Fawn says: “It will always ruin everything for me if a darker person is not lit well, because immediately I’m like, ahh, that’s prejudice right there. Obviously they weren’t conscious enough or compassionate enough or loving enough to light this person properly. I can’t even see the texture of their skin—it’s just dark”.

Images from Fawn’s global family photo album…

Friendship & Connection

Be a friend to yourself

Prioritise yourself and take time to care for yourself. “Once we’re fed enough on our own, then we can feed other people. Then we have the capacity to be there for someone else. That is the art of friendship”.

It’s like watching TV

Love TV shows? So do I, and so does Fawn. And she has a trick for connecting with people that’s perfect for all you TV show fans & movie buffs: “Pretend you’re watching TV and everything is shown to you for a reason. So there’s a director that has told this actor, ‘Okay, I want you to have an eye twitch here at this particular split second’. And there’s meaning behind that. So pretend you’re watching a show and, think, wow, this person just made this move. Hmm… Don’t put yourself in it. Pretend you’re watching a movie. And it’s amazing what you pick up”.

Everyone is your guest

I’ve always believed that how you treat people you don’t know says a lot about your character. And Fawn has a similar philosophy: “The world is your home. And everyone in it is your guest. So you could be walking down the street. You don’t own the street, but it’s your home. And even if you meet someone you’ve never met before, that person is your guest. Treat them as a guest in your home. Make them comfortable. You are the host. And if everyone did that, we would live in a completely different world right now”.

Listen to the full episode to hear more about connection—from martial arts principles to bending spoons with your mind…

Friendship comes in so many forms and it’s fluid and it changes. So one person that’s strong enough to be the one that goes with you to the emergency room. That same person may, at a different point in time, not have the capacity to do that. So we have to understand that everybody’s flowing and expanding and contracting. It is life. And you can’t expect this one person to be the static “this is this” person for “this” in your life.

Fawn Anderson

Style Notes

Check out Fawn’s gorgeous pink hair in that photo! Let’s call it punk chic.

Fawn also happened to review my podcast and won the Monthly Review Spotlight! We mostly chatted about style. And you can win too. Just write your review for a chance to win a 20 min 1:1 virtual coaching session. The monthly winner is announced on each Ask Alexandria episode.