Laura Madden's Blog

Stories of change

About me

with 16 comments

I had a successful career in reality TV and documentary films. The second film I worked on –- a doc about Benjamin Franklin for PBS — won an Emmy. I oversaw edits on reality TV shows like Rescue Ink, Border Wars, Dog the Bounty Hunter, Family Plots, The First 48, DogTown, and a number of other series. In April of 06, during some time between freelance gigs, I went to New Orleans to volunteer with the reconstruction effort. I expected it to be a breeze- after all, it had been several months since Katrina hit. Boy, did this Jersey girl’s eyes get opened.

NOLA had all the ingredients of a Carl Hiaasen novel: survivors trying to rebuild their city, college students volunteering on their spring break alongside retirees (including a team of sexagenarian chainsaw operators), high school dropouts and illegal immigrants searching for steady work, and politicians all talking a good game. Houses and cars were still rotting, months after being washed into the middle of the street. Meanwhile, Louisiana state instituted an evacuation plan identical to the one in place the day Katrina whipped the gulf’s shores. Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Bill Cosby all gave speeches for then-mayor Ray Nagin’s re-election campaign.

After all that, I couldn’t go back to an office to search for footage to cover a cobbled-together sound bite, or dispute the merits of K-Fed and Britney’s parenting skills. Drawing on my foreign language skills, I packed my camera and laptop in my backpack and hit the road for Brazil, Argentina, Madagascar and South Africa, and shot for NGOs in Mozambique, India and China. I knew I was on the right track when a former boss — someone I respect and admire — donated a large sum to one of the NGOs I shot for, explicitly stating her donation was because she’d seen my photos.

Now I’m ready to make a living telling the stories of everyday people who change the world one person at a time. They’re my greatest inspiration.


Written by Laura Madden

July 8, 2010 at 4:09 pm

16 Responses

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  1. Never met you in person, but I was part of the Dogtown team in the field (DP/Producer). Your story sounds awesome and inspiring. Where can your photos be viewed? Keep in touch.

    Cheers, Guido

    guido verweyen

    November 25, 2010 at 11:06 am

    • Hi Guido – Thanks for clicking! I remember being on lots of DogTown emails with you LOL. WordPress is home to all my work — videos to come soon, for now photos & writing:

      Laura Madden

      November 26, 2010 at 9:48 am

      • Hi Laura,

        great piece on Homeboy…recently filmed with them for “Dog Whisperer “/Nat Geo (as DP). Finally viewed a bunch of your photos – very compelling and cinematic. Keep on going. If you like, c
        heck out my latest documentary AFTER THE FIRE ( about the Seton Hall University Fire in NJ:

        Cheers, Guido

        guido verweyen

        November 14, 2011 at 11:04 am

      • Hi Guido,
        Thanks for checking out the Homeboy piece — they do really inspiring work. Speaking of… wow, man! I just watched the trailer for your film After the Fire — really moving. Congrats on its successes at all the festivals! I’ve done some work with pediatric burn survivors also, and I couldn’t agree with you more. They really show you the meaning of courage! ❤

        Laura Madden

        November 15, 2011 at 6:55 am

  2. Hi there Laura, Great to read this blog and get a better perspective of what you have been doing other than visiting us at Christian Hospital, Mungeli, India. This is a bustling and growing hospital with lots of action and also has a school with 500 kids, but what was special in the pictures you took here was in bringing out the expressions in people’s faces. Your pictures have been used many times and have left a mark in many people as they share in the passion of what we do through the United Church of Christ and the Disciples of Christ.
    Thanks again for all you have done and we look forward to have you with us again.

    Anil Henry

    December 1, 2010 at 4:29 am

    • Hi Dr. Anil — thanks for clicking, reading and commenting. It was my pleasure to spend time in Mungeli at the hospital and the school, and I look forward to going back soon. (Tell everyone to get their smiles out 😉

      Laura Madden

      December 1, 2010 at 9:58 am

  3. This is very inspiring to learn about you Laura! Hoping to meet up sometime.


    December 15, 2010 at 8:04 am

    • Hi Lisa — thanks for clicking and reading! Would love to see you ❤

      Laura Madden

      December 15, 2010 at 8:41 am

  4. Man! Somebody just the other day asked me if I knew what you were up to and I had no idea! Now what do I tell them!

    What you’re doing is so incredibly awesome. Your work is tremendous. It’s super awesome to see someone you’re friends with to accomplish something like that! Who would have ever thought that you’d be doing this at the Furley Street house?

    Anyways, give me an e-mail sometime! I do a lot of fundraising work (not for a job or anything) and would love to give to a cause that you might be working with.


    Gregg Gethard

    February 8, 2011 at 11:54 am

    • Gregg, thanks so much for checking my blog out and for your sweet comments! I am finishing edit on a short film for a non-profit that helps Chinese pediatric burn survivors by a) bringing extreme cases to the US for treatment and b) sending clinical teams to China to train doctors there in rehabilitative treatments. You can see more at I’ll be posting the film here in the next few days.

      Will send you an email about some other stuff I’m up to, though I must warn you I steer clear of favelas for fear of glorifying poverty and the gangsters that manipulate slum dwellers.
      Thanks again for stopping by here! ❤
      PS LOL ummm, I never imagined much at the Furley street house, let alone all this…

      Laura Madden

      February 9, 2011 at 10:18 am

  5. Laura,

    Very impressive work you are doing! Keep it up and keep in touch! Stay safe.


    John Anderson

    February 20, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    • Hi John, Thanks so much for checking out my blog. Means a lot to me that you enjoy it. ❤

      Laura Madden

      February 21, 2011 at 2:23 am

  6. Luv your photos and your sensibility behind the words. Miss you in the office.

    John X. Kim

    February 20, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    • Hi John, Thanks for clicking and having a look! Hope to see you in the office again sometime. ❤

      Laura Madden

      February 21, 2011 at 2:22 am

  7. Hi Laura,
    I’m producing a special about Georgina Chapman (Designer of Marchesa) who founded the Rose Children’s Home. I’m wondering if we could get permission to use your photos in our special?

    Sandy Chronopoulos
    Producer I Citytv

    Sandy Chronopoulos

    June 28, 2011 at 1:21 pm

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