Monday, June 6, 2011 | 3 a.m.
Mike Snedegar is best known around town for throwing huge, celebrity-laden parties at TAO, TAO Beach and LAVO, where he’s in charge of entertainment marketing. Kim Kardashian’s birthday bash, anyone? But, this high-profile, on-the-Strip businessman has an unusual hobby for someone in his shoes: Photojournalism, with a focus on social awareness.
Snedegar says he’s always been interested in photography, but his recent trip to Haiti is what morphed his hobby into passion. So much so that the Mandarin Oriental will be hosting a gallery show of his photos, he says. Besides, about a year ago, he had bought a really nice, new Canon camera. It was the perfect time to use it.
Snedegar went to Haiti with Generosity Water, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing clean water to communities in need, alongside his friend and co-star of The Real Housewives of New York City Kelly Bensimon. Snedegar says he was amazed by the disarray of society in Haiti, more than a year after a massive earthquake decimated the country. It was the first time he’d ever been to the developing world, he says.
“I wanted to come back and share the photos with my friends and people who I knew not only had the money to help, but the influence to raise awareness,” Snedegar says of his photos. “I felt that was my purpose: Try to make people aware of what’s going on in Haiti and what’s needed.”
“There’s a massive amount of help needed,” Snedegar says. “They don’t have access to clean water, or, anything really.”
And, Snedegar says, his day job, er, night job, is the perfect complement to his passion on the side. “One plays into the other,” he says.
Colleagues and friends responded to the photos he took, Snedegar says, adding that it was the reaction of his friends and peers that made him want to look for more opportunities to travel and photograph.
In the future, Snedegar says he hopes to travel the world photographing in the developing world with Generosity Water. It’s his way of making a difference.
“When you see tragedy on the news, it’s always filtered,” he says. “I want to go there, see what’s going on and report back.”
In fact, he says, he’ll be going back to Haiti this month. All in the name of more photos and his upcoming exhibit, for which dates haven’t been set, he says. The exhibits are intended to raise money for Haiti and Generosity Water, he says. “Everybody loves an event. Everybody can do something.”