Monday, October 7, 2013

Watts of Love: Spreading Weddings and Light to Those in Need

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Watts of Love, a non-profit organization local to Chicago, partnered with PastBook to publish an ebook of their recent humanitarian trip to the Philippines. During this trip, Watts of Love delivered 1,000 solar lights to remote impoverished communities living without access to electricity. Photographer Kevin Kuster, also of Chicago, documented the trip using only his iPhone, and the pictures are nothing short of inspiring. In this guest post, he has shown us a part of the word we rarely see up in here in the Windy City.

This was also a story of love and hope. Forty couples waited years to get legally married, an opportunity provided through the support of a local charity to cover the costs of a priest, license fee, traditional marriage clothing, and a mass ceremony for all the families. Watts of Love donated the services of a photographer and provided each couple a wedding photograph, which was printed, framed and immediately gifted to each couple – the first and only photograph these people have ever owned.

Kevin tells the story of their great adventure...

While on Ilin Island, I was asked by the local church to photograph 40 couples who were too poor to pay for a state marriage license or formal wedding ceremony.

The church Sandisima Trinidad raised enough money to buy each bride and groom formal clothes, shoes, wedding rings and a state marriage license. Without this assistance none of these couples could afford to be married.

Everything was donated to make this day very special. I photographed each couple and provided each new bride and groom a framed photograph from their wedding day. For most of these couples this was the first printed image they had ever owned or seen of themselves.

This groom allowed me to photograph him with two of his most proud possessions, his new barong tagalog given to him for the wedding and his rooster trained for cock fighting.

This groom beams with pride as he ties his first pair of dress shoes. Father Feranado Suarez MMMP said: "how lucky we are to play a part in giving them back some their dignity."

Everyone was so excited to see all of the couples get ready for the wedding. I asked this girl in the center to take a picture of me taking a picture of the bride and groom.

20 brides and not one “bridezilla”. I have learned that when you have very little you appreciate everything to a greater degree. All of the brides were so appreciative.

A view from Father Fernando's perspective as he looks out on all the couples and family members on their wedding day. (Glow on cross added for visual effect.)

"You may now kiss the bride." It was such a great moment of joy when all of the new couples kissed for the first time at the ceremony. All of the brides looked so beautiful.

Some of the couples had been waiting up to five years to get married because they were unable to afford the 400 pesos ($60 US) to purchase the state required marriage license.

This picture captures the response of a bride as she sees her first printed photograph ever! Several brides said it was the best wedding gift they could have ever received.

I have been fortunate to take pictures all around the world of all kinds of people and places. My time on Ilin Island has been the most rewarding experience of my career.

When you give to others you receive back so much more in return. It is such a simple and proud universal truth and this picture completely shows this truth in action. (Pictured: Nancy and John from Watts of Love. Read their story here.)

This happy couple proudly displays their first printed and framed pictures that they have ever owned in their lives. Thank you to everyone that that made this moment possible.

This little portable printer didn't stop printing images from the moment the wedding began till late into the evening.

Although I typically shoot all of my wedding and professional photography with my DSLR camera, I decided to shoot this entire event on Ilin Island with my iPhone.

I knew that by using my iPhone it would make me seem less intimating as I photographed these couples in intimate settings. I also will admit I knew it would be a really successful way to get national media attention and bring awareness to such a worthy cause. I always say it’s not the camera creating picture, it’s the photographer’s eye, talent and skills that matters the most.

Group photograph of each bride and groom on their wedding day. Ilin Island 2013. Thank you to all who donated money and time to make this moment happen.

All Photography by Kevin Kuster.

View to the official book website at!


Please visit if you wish to find out more or to donate directly.

By hiring Kevin Kuster Photography or Creator Gallery (based on Chicago) to photograph your wedding they will donate 10% of their photography fee to Watts of Love's Wedding Day Picture Program. On your wedding day you can give as well as receive. Please email Kevin directly at for additional information on the program. You can see Kevin’s wedding photography at and some of his proffesional work at
PastBook will give 10% discount to you and 10% donation to Watts of Love when you use the coupon code WATTSOFLOVE to create your own photobook of any size. They ship internationally anywhere in the world!

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