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we’re different in PRINT. In case you hadn’t noticed, you’re looking at PhotoED magazine’s FREE digital edition. Here, we’re sharing some different stuff than what’s happening in our print issue. Just FYI.
SARA HARLEY BEHIND THE SHOT:
“Destination Unknown,” from her Comfort + Joy series.
IN THIS DIGITAL ISSUE 10 RESOURCES WE LOVE 16 THE ONE PROJECT 32 READERS GALLERY Submissions by our readers
E’S M O RE IN
77 REPRESENTING IDEAS NEW BRUNSWICK COLLEGE OF CRAFT AND DESIGN STUDENTS EXPLORE MENTAL HEALTH By: Karen Ruet
80 SARA HARLEY: STROKE OF EMOTIONS
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PHOTOGRAPHY: A TOOL FOR HEALING
“If you find yourself stuck in darkness, the first thing to do is find and start capturing the light.” — Bryce Evans
PHOTOED E IS 10 0% MAGAZIN NADA! CA MADE IN U FO R Y K THAN O PPORT! YOUR SU
MENTAL HEALTH IS AN ISSUE THAT AFFECTS US ALL, DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY. Since taking over as the editor at PhotoED, I’ve received incredible submissions and stories from across Canada shared by really brave, creative people who interpret and chronicle deeply personal experiences, using photography as a tool for healing. These powerful stories inspired us to create this special edition. Sometimes the images aren’t pretty, or clear, but the accompanying stories have real impact. We thought this edition would not only connect with our photophile readers, but also inspire all readers to pick up cameras and “seek the light.”
From artists who use photography as a conduit for local community connections such as Kat Fulwider with her work with Ottawa’s homeless youth, to Megan Conley, an artist working through personal trauma, to Bryce Evans, a photographer, entrepreneur, and creator of an online platform for people around the world
to connect through photography and to support conversations about mental health, we’re proud to share a few examples in this edition. We hope the people featured motivate you to start your own conversations, and perhaps to use your own photography tools in new and contemplative ways. This fall, in our next issue, we’re looking forward to a portraiture edition. If you’ve got a project that takes portraits to a new level, drop us a line! Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and sign up for our e-newsletter to keep up!
Your Editor, Rita Godlevskis firstname.lastname@example.org
@photoedmagazine SPRING/SUMMER 2020 ISSUE #58 ISSN 1708-282X
PhotoED Magazine is published 3x/year, SPRING, FALL, & WINTER See www.photoed.ca for subscription and advertising information. Publications Mail Agreement No. 40634032 PhotoED Magazine 2100 Bloor St. West, Suite 6218 Toronto ON M6S 5A5
This issue was made possible with the assistance of the Ontario Arts Council.
Rita Godlevskis /email@example.com Ruth Alves
Bryce Evans Kat Fulwider Sara Harley Kerry Manders Peppa Martin Ali Penko Karen Ruet
Deborah Cooper Dominic Balasta “Higher Love” by Shira Gold
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Our recommendations for more resources to further explore photography + healing
ONE PROJECT APP
NATIONAL FILM BOARD OF CANADA
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FREE + paid The NFB is an award-winning online resource featuring thousands of bilingual videos â€“ from documentaries to animated films, from new releases to back catalogue favourites. We love their curated collection of content on topics about mental health, psychology, psychiatry, and emotional life. We also love their Educational Playlists feature for teachers, and that content can be streamed or played offline. The NFB app can be downloaded from the App Store for iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV, or from Google Play. nfb.ca
Described by many as one of the safest spaces online to discuss mental health, The One Project is an app and support group community with members around the world using therapeutic photography techniques to connect, learn, and support one another. Choose anonymity or feature your story publicly. This online community aims to reduce loneliness, build connection, and increase understanding about all aspects of mental health, while members grow together through shared insights. theoneproject.co
MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES FOR CANADIANS Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 Kids Help Phone is a 24/7 national support service. They offer professional counselling, information, referrals, and support to young people in English and French. Find out more about their phone, text, live chat, and app options at: kidshelpphone.ca
Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is
the most extensive community mental health organization in Canada. The CMHA website features extensive resources and help on a variety of topics, including children and youth anxiety and depression, coping with loneliness, depression and bipolar disorder, eating disorders, feeling angry, and much more. cmha.ca
In crisis? Call 1-833-456-4566 toll free (In QC: 1-866-277-3553), 24/7 or visit www.crisisservicescanada.ca
EFFORTLESS BEAUTY: PHOTOGRAPHY AS AN EXPRESSION OF EYE, MIND AND HEART by Julie DuBose $15.00 digital + $22.50 print Miksang is a form of contemplative photography that asks us to see our world in a new way. Effortless Beauty (available in print and digital formats) is a road map for taking a different kind of photograph, which might even lead to a different kind of living: direct living through direct seeing. Author and co-founder of the Miksang Institute Julie DuBose brings a new perspective to taking pictures. Julie explores not only how we express our experiences with our lenses, but also how we can find a fresh way of navigating our visual world together. www.miksang.com
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THE ONE PROJECT
BY BRYCE EVANS
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY TO CHANGE THE CONVERSATION NEARLY 10 YEARS AGO, I discovered that practising photography allowed me to start talking about mental health when I couldnâ€™t with words. I began taking photos with an intention, creating a series of images that communicated universal struggles of loneliness. As I looked to challenge wider stigma and silence around mental health issues, in the process, I found my own depression and anxiety came into focus. After publishing the One series online in 2010, I quickly found that I was not the only person struggling to communicate my feelings and that others could benefit from using photography to help to start real conversations. I never guessed how far this idea would go. This was the beginning of The One Project. I saw a need for an online space where people could open up without judgement or the usual pressures of social media. So, I began working to build such a digital space.Soon an international community of people sharing their stories of
therapeutic photography and facing their issues, including anxiety, depression, and postpartum depression, became a reality. Therapeutic photography involves taking, analyzing, and using photos for the purpose of personal healing, growth, and understanding, whether done consciously or unconsciously. By actively constructing, exploring, and reflecting on photographs, paired with writing creatively, itâ€™s possible to learn more about yourself and how you see the world. The One Project is a private community; however, registration is open to anyone. You can choose anonymity and keep your stories private within our community or, if you feel comfortable, you can make your stories public. Member access to the community is forever free to reduce barriers for those with financial challenges. We also offer paid subscriptions that include online courses and member opportunities, which help to sustain the project. Participating requires no photography skills or equipment. The community and the techniques members teach are open and accessible to all. The app is
M c o p a M in b V w a m
B e g o li e
available for both iOS and Android.
Milestones I’m particularly proud of achieving together as a community include growing to more than 500 members in over 50 countries through our private platform. In 2013, we partnered with LUSH stores on an anti-bullying campaign across 200 retail locations in North America and in the Middle East. Thousands of people took part in interactive art nstallations on store windows and shared their stories around bullying. In 2016 we were featured in a short documentary by VICE, and last year, The work of The One Project members was exhibited at Sunway University in Malaysia. We’re excited about developing more partnerships and opportunities for our members to expand our impact around the world.
By opening up and connecting with people who have lived experience, I believe that we can help to reduce stigma, to gain a better understanding of these issues, and to support one another. As a community, we’re now aiming to build a ibrary of stories and resources to further inspire, support, and empower more people, and to provide unique opportunities
Bryce Evans, “Lonely Surfer,” from the series One, Montreal, QC “ Globalization has enabled developed nations access to an incredible choice in careers, lifestyles, and activities. We live in a society where you can do anything, anywhere. We find activities that bring us joy in solitude, but fail to fill the void in our psyche that longs for companionship.”
through published articles such as this, as well as exhibitions, campaigns, videos, and more. This encourages members to share and to see the impact that their stories can have on others. Many of the stories that you’ll find within The One Project are being told for the first time. For some members it’s their first time talking about their mental health and many have mentioned it’s the first time they have felt comfortable enough to begin. For me, this just shows the need and importance of spaces like our community and I hope that more are built so we can end the silence and isolation felt by far too many people. For people struggling, getting started on a path towards healing can be as simple as sharing one photo. One story. The impact can ripple out into something much bigger than you’d ever expect. I hope you will share your story with us soon.
THE MASK HABIBA ABDELAAL EGYPT
THREE YEARS AGO, my journey with depression began. I lost my job, my dream, the revolution, and hope. I saw my friends die while others were arrested. We followed them between police stations, and some were imprisoned for years. I met many people who hurt me and consumed me endlessly. I was an animal rescuer, I tried to save as many animals as I could, but many died in my arms while I sat helplessly; it was a lot of pressure and stress to deal with, but still, I got up and continued everything.” the show must go on. they keep telling us, right? I was helpless as I felt and saw all of this happen to me but didn’t know what to do — added to that my best friend Marwa died. I watched her wither away; it was a terrible feeling to be helpless, unable to help the ones I love and care about. It was like my back was broken. Marwa’s death tore me because she was my support, the one who took care of me and contained me. She was the one who encouraged me to seek treatment. Marwa’s death took away my hope, and I didn’t want to continue, I wanted everything to stop, and I wanted my mind and my heart to stop. I felt like my heart couldn’t take more years of trying and losing. After Marwa’s death, I started treatment and my journey of recovery from anxiety, deep depression, and PTSD. I am grateful to God and the people whom I have met and those who have supported me. Sadly, depression is a chronic disease that lies hidden and appears when we aren’t paying
attention. I believe in the power and importance of storytelling for myself and those who will read my words. My story might encourage someone to ask for help or help someone feel that they are not alone, and then they can decide to tell their story. I am telling my story because the illness has never been shame or something that we should hide. To recover from depression, you need all the support, sympathy, and help from your surroundings. I only started feeling better after I started telling my story. As part of my recovery journey, I decided to express myself through pictures. Every picture symbolizes my journey with the disease and recovery. Photography helped me to tell my story without speaking because words have been and still heavy for me like a weight dragging me down. Today, I will start with a very emotional story for me. Every day, I tried to paint a mask, every minute, every second, to hide my feelings. I didn’t want people to notice then ask how I was because my heart and tongue were heavy. I was afraid to talk, fearful that no one would understand me or that they would start comparing our problems. I was trying to fool myself, make myself feel better, and pretend everything is fine. It will pass. I kept telling myself. Everything will be fine. I didn’t know how or when that would happen. I just hoped that something would happen.
STATEMENTS AND STORIES FROM THE ONE PROJECT CONTRIBUTORS APPEAR UNEDITED, AS PROVIDED TO PHOTOED MAGAZINE IN THIS DIGITAL EDITION.
THERAPEUTIC PHOTOGRAPHY TRENA PEARL WALL KELOWNA, BC
THERAPEUTIC PHOTOGRAPHY has been more then an art form to me it’s been therapy and it’s been whole heartedly a life line. I truly believe it has played a key role in saving my life, art has saved my life. Through therapeutic photography not only have I been able to learn a new amazing and fulfilling skill that is non stop but it’s been a path to healing I had never realized was an option. When I first started my mental health was very bad it was very scary and very lonely. Photography is special because I can see it in the portraits they all tell a story, there’s a piece of my diary in each one or you could say they are the diary. I don’t know what made me pick up the camera or what gave me the idea that first time but I won’t forget that day. I just picked the camera up at 6am one cold September morning because I was done, fed up with feeling how I was and I needed something to get my mind focused. I wanted to make something beautiful. I had no idea the path it was going to take me on. It’s been an outlet, it’s a way of life to create anything I want anything I imagine and that’s usually turning pain into something beautiful. I try very hard to take the feelings and turn them into something, I try to think how can I put this emotion into a photo or just end up thinking of my best ideas and themes when I’m overwhelmed or full of anxiety and panic, sadness, anger or right after those
feeling have passed. I’m very grateful to have this ability now as growing up art has always been apart of my life in some form but this has allowed some of the most soul fulfilling work ever. That’s what is truly amazing about therapeutic photography it is a healing art form. It has opened new doors and new path ways in the mind, coping skills, understanding, releasing and evolving with mental health. I find it to be very mindful as your doing mindful practices daily when you’re looking at nature in a new way, shadows, light, everything can be seen in a different way. The most incredible and inspiring people I know that express themselves in this way live with mental illness. Therapeutic Photography I believe can and is playing a very important lead role in how mental health can be helped it has the power to chance the world, it is changing the world because it sure changed mine. They say a picture is worth a thousand words... I take all my anxiety, pain, sadness, anger and fear and I turn it into something beautiful. I will forever turn my mental illness into something beautiful because I refuse to see it as something ugly.
ENDLESS PRIVILEGE TIYANI (LAST NAME WITHHELD)
WELL I HONESTLY don’t know where to begin well no actually let me rephrase that I know exactly when to begin. I started feeling the cloud of depression right about 3 years ago when I was 15 yrs old. I still am amazed how I have managed to live and handle it for 3 yrs. Well anyways I stumbled upon photography right in the begin of this major lifestyle change.I remember that moment vividly. I was watching a film but it wasn’t watching per say I used to at the time just play something on the screen and just emptily gaze into the screen of my laptop. I still remember I felt numb. I couldn’t feel, which had me thinking whether I am truly existing and then for the first time in 2 months I started focusing on something well to better explain it. I was giving my attention to something and that was a scene where this guy with a camera was taking photos. Now I wasn’t aware of what the film was or who the character was because I wasn’t focused but I just kept following this dude’s movements till that scene ended and then I shut down the film and I picked up a smartphone lying on my bed. Well it was about 2 am but I hadn’t slept in weeks and I was perfectly awake. I switched on the camera app and started taking pictures inside my room. Door knobs, windows,different details I didn’t know what was exactly happening
but I felt alive and for the first time I willing unlocked my bed room’s door and continued taking pictures of the living room. It was dark and empty yet comforting but I realized something I was seeing again and observing the world and the environment around me. Well I didn’t ask for any camera but in the night I would come out of the room and take pictures. My parents who are the main reason I am still functioning as a ‘regular’ human being noticed that I was depressed. And then they told me what depression was, they both were doctors and I still haven’t heard or knew I had depression but as they explained I started realising that I did in fact have it. They immediately took me to a psychologist who recommended me to see a psychiatrist and I started taking medicine which actually didn’t work the first few months and they increased the dosage till it did take effect. I started therapy and it did get better in about 6 months and I was “normal” in the society. But my dad immediately after seeing a therapist bought me a camera and that obsession of me looking through the viewfinder is the reason I am able to keep hope.It allowed to see the world’s joy and colourfulness. But here is the thing with depression for me, it never left. And no one can understand that but I have learned to cope with it to my best capacity.
Well, now about this picture. It was taken by me this year at a place called Sembuwatha in Sri Lanka and it resonated in me. This is a lake on a mountain top and it’s in a beautiful rural area .At that moment I was very exhausted in my thoughts though. I was sitting on a rock wanting a shot that resonated that felt real to me. A shot that will eventually show me how beautiful the place I am at is. A landscape picture of the moment which would have being gorgeous wasn’t enough at that space in my thoughts. I needed a shot that would help me to get out of the internal paralyzed coma I was in and bring me to the present moment as I was drowning. And then I saw this scene, and I immediately captured it. It brought me back to the moment because it showed me how privileged these two kids were to play peacefully in a childhood innocence in pure nature without any human complications. And it showed me in turn how privileged I was to be there. And this for me is how photography has forever became therapeutic. It helps me to be present it helps me to notice the world and it allows me to narrow everything down into one frame and be focused.So I named this picture “Endless privilege “.
STATEMENTS AND STORIES FROM THE ONE PROJECT CONTRIBUTORS APPEAR UNEDITED, AS PROVIDED TO PHOTOED MAGAZINE IN THIS DIGITAL EDITION.
THE TUNNEL, PT. 3 VICKI (LAST NAME WITHHELD)
THE PATH OF FEELING ‘UNSETTLED’. Not having a clear vision of where I am heading because of my anxiety and depression. This series was created in the middle of a crisis that stopped me from being who I am. Everything about this photo was emotionally led with the activity of emotions that scared me the most!
Looking back at the images, I am reminded that though the struggle I am feeling is unclear, I was able to capture everything I was feeling in one photo. The power or therapy photography helped me visually document what I could not say.
HOW I FOUND FREEDOM FROM MY OWN PRISON HANISA VALENTINO SCOTLAND
Who would have thought at age fourteen that photography would have become not only a passion I would have carried with me for the rest of my life, but also a profound healing tool that would have helped me to get through the tough times! My upbringing was lacking of love and understanding and I was living a very sad life in my family home, childhood and youth were all frustrating years were I felt totally misunderstood and oppressed. It is not surprising that discovering photography was liberating! It was something that allowed me to focus externally instead of feeling trapped in a life I did not like; it gave me the opportunity to see and create worlds that nobody else in my family was able to
notice or appreciate. My journey started the moment I picked up the first camera, a cheap model that my parents had used to take photos at birthdays, holidays and other special occasions. I wasnâ€™t allowed to use it much because being a working class family we didnâ€™t have lots of money to spend in things that were not a necessity like photographs. Nothing or nobody could stop though my growing interest in this medium and eventually the first camera I bought with my own saving became my best friend and the faithful companion that never let me down and was always with me whenever I needed it, always ready to join me in all my life adventures at home and around the world. The realisation of the healing effects that
STATEMENTS AND STORIES FROM THE ONE PROJECT CONTRIBUTORS APPEAR UNEDITED, AS PROVIDED TO PHOTOED MAGAZINE IN THIS DIGITAL EDITION.
I began to create images that were true to myself not for others to like but for me to express what was going on in my body and mind. It was the beginning of a magical visual journal a beautiful collection of stories depicting my emotional, physical and mental struggles. While doing so I began to realise the positive benefits that such process was having on me. It was helping to release whatever was going on inside my head and body transforming my suffering into a valuable learning expertience and a tremendous growth as a spiritual and emotional being. It helped me overcome physical illness, despair, depression, anger and especially FEAR! The more I did it, the better I got. This way of working has taught me that all my struggles can be positively transformed the moment I start thinking how to express them in a picture. The process of writing it down, using my mind in a creative way to visualise, sketch and plan how I am going to translate that story visually is always followed by a self-portrait session. Placing myself in front of a camera, acting out my feelings, is also an essential part of the healing for me. These creative activities seem to dissipate the initial intensity of pain, discomfort and any other negative energy attached to each particular experience. The second stage happens during the editing process. Here I get another opportunity to further explore the emotions that I may still feel inside and breath them out onto the photo, adding all the final touches that turn each picture in what I see as a piece of “healing art”. The different layers of emotional or physical disturbances are transferred into the many layers added to the image during post-process work.
photography had on me came about only two and a half years ago. A painful marriage break up and a passionate almost obsessive story with a new lover, having to start all over on my own with almost nothing were the major catalysts for the biggest changes to unfold on both personal and creative levels. The strong emotions I was experiencing, ecstatic moments followed by deep misery and the beautiful and the ugly that life was forcing me to confront helped me to grow stronger and bolder, filling me with the courage to explore my photographic work and style in a different way. I shifted from simply taking pretty pictures to actually telling stories of my real life trough the photos I was creating. These new way of working was open, real, bold, and yet beautiful, sensual and feminine and intimate like it has never been before even though the visual stories were expressing my pain and struggles. I am fundamentally someone who likes to find the beauty in everything, because I know it is always there, no matter what our mind tell us or what kind of experiences we are facing every moment.
This is never quick and sometime can take months to be completed. It cannot be hurried as it has its own natural flow and each issue needs its own time to heal and be shifted but nevertheless it works wonders for me. After realising the healing effects photographing in this way had on me, I began searching online for more information on this topic but at that particular time I couldn’t find anything that was answering my questions and so forgot about it for a while. A few weeks ago, I finally came across a lot more information. I discovered and watched Bryce Evans’s video on Ted talks, where he tells how photography saved his life. The video lead me to “The One Project” website and before I knew it I was in it with heart and soul. The One Project is now giving me the opportunity to find lots of the answers I was searching for together with the opportunity to explore areas of therapeutic photography I didn’t before along my personal self-discovery journey. So thank you Bryce, for creating such a precious community space where lots of people can find healing and support along their journeys.
FREEDOM - WHICH SIDE? DANCEL (LAST NAME WITHHELD) UNITED STATES WHEN I TOOK this photo more than two years ago, my purpose is to attain personal definition of freedom and use nature as my subject of interest and the focus is on the barbed wire’s role in the frame. Technically I choose shallow depth of field to blurry the background and auto-focus on the wire to get it sharp. Emotionally I failed, I was unable to capture the intended purpose because my subject was blurry. Am I for the purpose of following photography rules? or I don’t care about the camera settings, just press the shutter and convey the message to the viewer.
because I rely on camera, lens and setting but in reality, I am not and it’s a failure.
When I joined One Project and after watching Bryce’s TEDTalk, my perspectives in photography changes because I’m not aware that time photography played the greatest role in my recovery from my major depression. While learning that the rules or guides in photography are important to render the proper exposure to get great results, my attention diverted more on to the tools and less on my eagerness to capture the message of every subject that I want to shoot. It is a false belief that I gave the message on my photography
Just let me encourage you, but I do not promise any perfection, I have depression and photography healed it, and I believed. Reach out and share a hope.
The journey to recovery is not easy but rather sometimes vague, we need the freedom from our depression and mental illness, but from which side?. When we’re Inside the fence we felt secured, our image protected like the photographs we want to produce but when outside the fence we are in fear that the world will discover our illness and our healing were blurry and unsure of reality.
By the way, I went to the other side, focused on nature and I challenge blurriness.
BEST SELF BRANDON (LAST NAME WITHHELD)
I RECENTLY CHANGED my profile picture and while this might seem like just your average selfie, for me, the person in this photo is closer to being his “best” self than any other previous photo of him. Why? This is the first time I’ve felt confident enough to take and post a photo of myself since my girlfriend of 3 years left me back in August. I put on a bunch of weight over the last couple years and struggled with my body changing as I got older, both of which killed my selfesteem completely and induced this panic that I was now old and unattractive and love and connection would be much harder to find.
It’s a reflection of someone who was haunted by loneliness and isolation learning now to find love and peace within his own company. It’s a reflection of someone who was spiraling out of control with his drinking for years who has now fallen in love with sobriety. It’s a reflection of someone whose self-esteem, selfrespect, and self-worth were essentially non-existent just a short time ago, who is now learning to love himself and feeling proud and grateful for the person he is becoming.
But in the last couple of months, despite some hiccups, I’ve been making strides in my personal development and mental health on a completely new level.
It’s a reflection of someone who is truly aligned with their goals and ambitions for perhaps the first time in their life.
This picture is closer to my best self than ever before because:
It’s a reflection of regrowth, of a new chapter, of learning to surrender while reclaiming what was lost or taken in this life.
It’s a reflection of someone who has been disciplined in going to the gym almost every day for 4 months now in an effort to regain his health and is seeing results. He’s sleeping better, eating better, feeling better, and looking better.
Finally, it’s a reflection of someone who is adventuring towards peace and freedom. Someone who has grown wiser, more experienced, more loving and somehow, less bitter and angry.
It’s a reflection of someone who can see hope for the future after knowing only hopelessness and despair.
For the first time in my life, it’s a reflection of me at my closest to my best self. Now suddenly, I find gratitude and joy in my heart.
It’s a reflection of someone, who after going through therapy, has begun to let go of the past and childhood trauma and give his life new meaning.
CONTRAST SHADOWS HIGHLIGHTS PERSPECTIVE ANDREW PENNER STEINBACH, MB
ALL ARE VERY important aspects to consider when putting a frame around what you see. All play a critical role in what you want to include (or exclude) in order to create the image you see in your mind. But what if I’m not talking about photography? What if I’m talking about therapy? Contrast: Observing the differences between the light and dark. What are the stark differences? Why are there differences? Why are those specific things different? Am I asking about your photo - or about your life? Shadows: Places where something blocks the light, making it hard to see details. What’s causing the shadow? Is it intentional? Does the shadow have meaning - or maybe there’s a meaning behind the cause of the shadow? Am I asking about the tree silhouetted by the sunrise or the hurt that you can’t seem to let go of? Highlights: The brightest parts! But if you’re not careful the highlights can overwhelm the rest, blinding you to everything else, and ruining the potential for something amazing. Maybe the highlights are from the sun reflecting off the water. Maybe they’re the bright spots in the past that you replay to avoid the present.
Perspective: It doesn’t have to take a lot of effort to shift your perspective. I think it could be argued that apart from light, perspective is the most important aspect to both life and photography. Sometimes you just need to stand tall and take a look around. Sometimes you need to get down low and get your hands dirty. Depending on your path, your life and your surroundings, one might be easier than the other. But both can be very rewarding - both for your photos and your personal growth. I only have to reference my life and the photos I chose. The photos are from the same location. Moments apart. Virtually the same edits applied to both. The difference is simply vertical distance. In one, I literally stuck my phone in a puddle. From there, I simply stood up and raised it to eye level. Maybe it’s not the most glamorous subject matter (referring to the photos). Therapy probably doesn’t rank that high either. But that’s not the point. Perspective is.
Henry’s Foundation: Our Mission
Putting mental health into focus. 6.7 million. That’s how many Canadians are affected by mental illness, according to Canada’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). That number means that every Canadian is impacted, either directly or indirectly, by mental illness: Either you, or someone you know, has a mental illness. That’s why Canadian digital imaging retailer Henry’s is proud to announce the launch of the Henry’s Foundation, a charitable endeavor specifically created to help support the millions of Canadians who live with a mental illness such as anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder.
Henry’s has been involved with charitable initiatives in the past, including the Henry’s Tournament for Health in support of the Marvelle Koffler Breast Centre at Mount Sinai Hospital, LOVE (Leave Out Violence) using art and media to empower youth, and the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation’s Ride to Conquer Cancer. The Stein family created the Henry’s Foundation in late 2019 in an effort to build one focused charitable strategy surrounding the challenges of mental health in Canada.
improve the lives of Canadians living with mental illness and remind them that they are not alone. The Foundation is driven to achieve change, both externally, in the communities in which it operates, and internally, amongst Henry’s employees. “Mental health awareness is a cause that is very important for our employees and their family members as well,” says Amy Stein, Executive Director of Henry’s Foundation. “We want to help make a long-lasting impact in our local communities , across the country, in the area of mental health.”
The objective of the Henry’s Foundation is to help put mental health into focus by providing much needed funding to
Focus on Community Involvement
Because mental health and illness affects all Canadians, it has an impact on the communities in which Henry’s operates. The Henry’s Foundation is looking forward to working closely with Canada’s creator community to help raise awareness of the impact of mental illnesses on Canadians. “We really want our community — our employees, but also the creator community in Canada — to get involved,” Stein says. That’s why, as part of the Foundation’s official launch in March, it will be encouraging the community to upload and share photos that indicate what mental health means to them, using the hashtag #uncapturedmoments. Photos can be uploaded on henrysfoundation.com or shared via Instagram under The Henry’s Foundation (@thehenrysfoundation). The Foundation hopes that these #uncapturedmoments — those that capture the typically unseen parts of everyone’s lives — will help to show the
rest of the community, and all Canadians who are struggling with mental health issues, that they are not alone. It’s a great avenue for the creator community to express themselves through their art in ways they may not typically think about, Stein says. Photography is typically used to capture special moments or exceptional experiences, but by using the artform to reveal the everyday nature of life, Stein hopes the community will find new and different ways to express their creativity and emotions. In addition to the #uncapturedmoments campaign, the Henry’s Foundation will be raising money at point-of-sale in Henry’s stores when a customer makes a purchase, and will be offering in-store events with a focus on mental health and more. Internally, as the Foundation becomes interwoven with Henry’s culture, the barriers around mental health and illness will continue to break down as employees become more comfortable discussing their mental health.
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Framing the Mental Health Issues Facing Canadians
of Ontarians say they have experienced feelings of anxiety or depression, but have not sought treatment
More and more high-profile cases of mental health have entered the public discourse, from former Toronto Raptors star DeMar DeRozan to comedian Howie Mandel to Youtuber Lily Singh. As a result, awareness of the impact of mental health has never been greater in Canada. In fact, a 2015 study suggested that 80% of Canadians were more aware of mental health issues than they were just five years earlier.
of Canadians who have sought treatment for mental health issues feel their needs were not adequately met
And yet, a quick look at the statistics shows we have a long, long way to go before we: A) eliminate the stigmas associated with discussing mental health; B) treat mental illnesses as seriously and rigorously as we treat physical illnesses; and C) ensure Canadians struggling with mental health issues have the support they need.
Mental health care in Ontario is underfunded by about
$1.5 billion (Statistics courtesy of CAMH)
About Henry’s Foundation
The Henry’s Foundation was started in late 2019 by the Stein family, and will officially launch in March of 2020. The Stein family, fourth-generation owners of Henry’s, Canada’s Greatest Camera Store, are firm supporters of mental health initiatives in Canada and the Henry’s Foundation was created specifically to support Canadians who have mental health illnesses. Henry’s Foundation is committed to both operating with integrity, and ensuring that the highest possible percentage of each donation goes directly to its partners. As such, there are no employees, and the Foundation is operated with the commitment and resources of Henry’s and the Stein family.
In addition, the Henry’s Foundation is partnering with several institutions across Canada at both a national and local level, to help spread awareness. These include: • • • • • •
Kids Help Phone (National) Jack.org (National) Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) (Ontario) Douglas Mental Health University Institute Foundation (Quebec) Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia (Nova Scotia) VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation (British Columbia)
You can find more information about the Henry’s Foundation, and the #uncapturedmoments campaign on Instagram @thehenrysfoundation and henrysfoundation.com. Donations can be made at any Henry’s retail location or online at henrysfoundation.com.
F O N D AT I O N F O U N D AT I O N
Check out Kat Fulwider’s cyanotype work with Ottawa’s homeless youth.
Get the story in PRINT.
JENS KRISTIAN BALLE Vancouver, BC THUMB “An illustration of our relationship with social media and how it’s mostly a facade we put on where we pretend everything is perfect, even though it’s probably not.” www.jenskristianballe.com
GALLERY SUBMISSIONS BY OUR READERS
LORA MOORE-KAKALETRIS Oakville, ON MY SECRET “At the age of twelve, I walked into the garage to find my mother’s lifeless body sitting in the driver’s seat of her car with the engine on and doors closed tight. My secret is a very personal and retrospective series documenting the emotional roller coaster one goes through after losing a parent to suicide.” IG: @loramoore_images www.mooreimages.ca
JOSH MEEK Oakville, ON
PILLS PILLS is an exploration into the idealization and abuse of prescription drugs. IG:@meek.jpeg
LIZA POZ Toronto, ON
“When these photos were taken I was struggling with a severe panic disorder. There were months when I couldn’t even leave the house and that led me to become isolated and hopeless. Photography, in a way gave me a new light in life. It is a way for me to escape and to let my ideas and thoughts flow into an image. Taking a photo and being able to tell a story through it, is what motivates me everyday to keep battling my challenges” IG: @lizaxpoz
LINDA BRISKIN Toronto, ON
FRACTURED “Fractured highlights the struggle to remainwhole in the face of climate anxiety, political precariousness and increasing uncertainty. Fractured, we feel ourselves fading and melting and vanishing. I am fractured. I am fracturing. We are all fractured. The world is fracturing These five ‘self portraits’ were taken in the mirrored elevator at the Art Gallery of Ontario. The camera helped to reveal fractured reality.” www.lindabriskinphotography.com
MITCHELL BROWN Grimsby, ON
â€œI live with persistent depressive disorder and anxiety distress. This is a personal project of images and words I wrote while I was in a very low part of depression.â€? IG: @mitchellbrownphotographer www.mitchellbrown.ca
NATE HUSKA London, ON
ROMANTICIZING THE WRONG THINGS “S ometimes you catch yourself romanticizing things you should’t be; past relationships, drugs, anything unhealthy really. We may even be aware and acknowledge that this is unhealthy, but we cannot always control how we feel.” IG: @whyromanticize
MAÍRA A. RIBEIRO Toronto, ON
“These images are from the rehearsal for ‘The Queen and Her Inner Battles’, a flashmob presented by Art Starts and curated by Jacquie Comrie Garrido during Nuit Blanche, 2019. According to Jacqui, “Colour is the universal language of emotions and a tool powerful enough to repair not only spaces but minds. Colour is light and energy, an electric current to the human brain, proven to possess healing properties and the ability to change our thoughts, behaviour and the way we feel for the better.” IG: @mairaribeirophotography
NICHOLAS WOJTAS Ottawa, ON ANXIETY “This body of work is an exploration and a journey of discovery of the sources of my anxieties. Through this series, I explore imperfection. Our imperfections – our strengths and weaknesses - make us unique. Anxiety doesn’t make us any different from anyone else – it makes us the same as everyone else. At different times in our lives - this negative feeling can
be crippling to all of us. Anxiety Disorder do not make us weak. We are strong and endure. I encourage you to all face your fears, to not let an Anxiety Disorder get in the way of living your life. Anxiety affects us all in varying degrees.” IG: @nicholaswojtasphotographs
Toronto, ON “I had to be cool. I had to be good. I had to be beautiful. I wanted to be a flower. I tried a lot. I didn’t know that I am a flower already. I bloomed already.” IG: @sj_k1m_xy
CLIVE BRANSON & RICHARD DEMARAIS Ottawa, ON
TROUBLED MINDS â€œTroubled Minds is a collaborative project generating attention towards mental health. Instead of conveying a message about mental health through the activities of a celebrity, we depicted how the public perceive victims of such disorders (i.e. Depression, anxiety, bipolar, schizophrenia and other psychoses, and dementia) to create a more poignant account to how society views the maligned. Clive initiated this project after looking after his father, who for 12 years suffered from dementia and alzheimers.â€?
MARTINE MARIE-ANNE CHARTRAND Aylmer, QC
RECONSTRUIRE SERIES â€œIn 2002, I was experiencing the best time of my life, creating, an involved artist with a lot of drive, a young adult in love in her graduating year. One night, on my way back home from an art event, all of this quickly changed in a matter of minutes. I suddenly became the victim of a violent crime. I was stalked and struck by a stranger with a shovel. This left me with severe head injuries held by 64 sutures to my head, a concussion, contusion, bruising and a serious brush with my own mortality. But the hardest thing for me to overcome was not the damage done to my body, but to my mental health. This event changed my life and my perspective on many things. What saved me was art. My art was what made me come out of this as a victor and not a victim. I did this by documenting my everyday surroundings by taking snapshots of my recovery inside my apartement. Then with these I chose to construct photo montages of how I felt, I expressed myself with my camera lens. This is something I firmly believe in, is that art can truly be a healing tool. In order to get myself better in my mental health, I express myself visually; it is my natural way of surviving and healing. My current body of work is about anxiety and depression. I gave a speech at a restorative justice conference and at the victim commemoration ceremony about my experiences. I also shared my art of healing to all those who were attending. The most important message I gave in my speech was that you are not alone when you are a victim, you do not have to walk alone. This is what I try to share with my hardship, my art that you might feel alone but many struggle with the same mental health challenges. With my art I hope to encourage people to go out and share by talking and making art. As a society we still need to break the barriers of mental health taboos.â€? martinemarieannechartrand.myportfolio.com
OLIVIA GRAHAM Toronto, ON
PERCEPTIONS â€œA s I travel through life, images help me examine and express my identity. The following images explore the feeling that I am constantly playing a character in an attempt to please all the different people in my life. Where I can let my guard down, however, is with my family, as they provide a constant box of safety and security for me to truly be myself.â€? IG: @oliviagrahamphotography
ALEX FRANKLIN Langton, ON
TEENAGE MEMORIES “For the majority of my life I have dealt with major depression and anxiety. It has been a battle. When I was in my teenage years I knew something was wrong, and I didn’t feel right. I knew what I was feeling was not normal, but my family did not take it seriously at the time. My mental health still runs my life a lot of the time, but I have more control over my thinking because of my medication. Teenage Memories is an expression of my memories during some of my hardest times. In these images you can see how I was feeling about myself - through self-harm, eating disorders, etc. These images are what I see in my dreams.” IG: @alexfranklinphotos
AMY STEWART & CHAVAH LINDSAY Grand Bay - Westfield, NB “We are moms and wives and daughters and sisters. We are art school graduates. We are business owners. We are collaborative entrepreneurs. We are photographers and designers, seamstresses and photoshoppers, teachers, lovers. We strive to make quality work, beautiful things for people to own, to look at, to be. But first, before, we were artists. Making art for the sake of our sanity, from a drive deep within that couldn’t be explained. We are empowered women who can be fearless and brave. Who can make gritty, soul baring works and not be polite enough to keep them to ourselves (even when there are kids with water wings swimming through your photoshoot and you have worked three jobs in one day and are trying to make time for a moment with your family, let alone your skin care, but you’ve just received another client email and the gnawing in your stomach won’t let you sleep until you respond). Chavah and Amy have been creatively collaborating since 2014. These images are created through the process of photographing with water and light. We are proud to be supporters of the women in our lives. We are thankful for our cheerleaders keeping us going from the sidelines.” IG: @amystewartphoto
MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS “I wanted to evoke relatable emotions in viewers with these images. The importance of mental health is slowly becoming an open topic of discussion - but still has a huge social stigma. Mental illness can’t be sugarcoated; it is often concealed, which can make it difficult for people to discuss their issues. If this series of images even makes one person feel less lonely, I’ve done my job as an artist.” IG: @kcparlee
SHAYNA JOSÉE Oshawa, ON
“I found sanctuary in nature and capturing the beauty our world has to offer. It became a free therapy where instead of speaking to a doctor about my place in the world, my place in the world spoke to me. My mental health is a struggle every single day. I had terrible days and great days equally. I still medicate and I avoid high profile events. I still have days where I can’t get out of bed. But any day that I pick up my camera is a good day.” IG: @shaynajoseecreatives
HADI ASGARI Saskatoon, SK
â€œAfter moving to Canada to start a new life, Hadi has thought a lot about immigration and the baggage that it carries. Culture shock includes changes in daily life, environment, and a battle against depression. Hadi reflects on feelings of a loss of identity by photographing his new Saskatoon surroundings without people.â€? IG: @hadiasgariphoto
ALEXANDRA COTE-DURRER Saint-Adele, QC Alexandra lives with multiple mental health illnesses and uses the power of nature and photography to express her feelings. IG: @alexcdphotography
SONIA BLAYDE Toronto, ON THE MASK “At some point in our lives, we’ve played a role of living by other peoples standards.We wear a mask to hide behind our own anxiety, fears and struggles within our own existence. Often feeling stuck and trapped, we fight to break free.” www.soniablayde.com
AJ SALTER Kelowna, BC BORDERS “This project on borders explores a conceptual approach to picturing mental illness. The formal elements of the project involve a long panorama style photo that is stretched out but also compressed in the same way. This was to show how someone might feel sitting in a classroom. Time and space can feel weird for someone with ADHD, simultaneously feeling longer and drawn out as well as being pressed for time.
Autumn is a beautiful time in Canada with lots of gorgeous colors and yet for students, especially those who struggle with mental illness, it is a very troubling time and the beautiful views can blend together or be clouded over entirely. While sitting in a classroom it is common for people’s minds to wander or daydream, however, if you have ADHD it can be almost impossible to hold focus for the duration of the class which can negatively impact performance.
The edges of the classroom fade away and become warped to portray how someone could slip out of focus easily. Academic environments can be very alienating to someone who struggles with ADHD especially if they require more hands-on experiences to actually learn or hold their attention.” IG: @mintblueocean
JARED EAGLES Fredericton, NB SUNFLOWER IG: @jaredeagles
VICTORIA DOUDOUMIS Mississauga, ON TAKE 1 This piece was created as part of a series for Victoriaâ€™s first exhibition, DocuMental. The show shed a light on her mental health and the obstacles she continued to face daily. Victoria used to feel a sense of shame when it came to taking medication for her anxiety and depression, but by showcasing this photo in a public setting, she was able to end her own stigma with pride.
ANNA WILSON Stouffville, ON
TOP: BEAUTY IN THE BREAKDOWN “B eauty in the Breakdown, documents mental struggle related to overcoming burnout and anxiety. These are documents of my journey towards emotional well-being through photographic art practice. The images are metaphorical self-portraits representing mental states while finding stillness, beauty, and rest.” LEFT: STILL “This series was taken while dealing with my feelings around a miscarriage. ‘Numb’ (far left), references my mental state while capturing this image. The poetic titles in these series, as well as the corresponding visuals are representations of the complex emotions involved in grief and mental struggle. This mindful art practice continues to support my mental health and is a form of art therapy. I hope that my peaceful images can be like a breath of fresh air and serve as a subtle call to action, inviting the viewer to pause, reflect, and connect with their surroundings ... to find creative rest and lead to healing in their own challenges.” IG: @annawilsoncreative Twitter: @awilsoncreative
MELISSA RICHARD Fort McMurarry, AB
“Photography has really helped me through a lot of ups and downs. It has been a creative outlet for me, not just a means to document my family.” IG: @melissarichard4
ARIANNE TUBMAN Kelowna, BC
DO YOU SEE ME? “Do You See Me?, is a series about mental health and the relationship between professors and students in large academic settings. When struggling with mental health, people tend to try to keep their struggles private. However, as students, we are expected to still show up for class and participate, regardless of any negative mindset we may be experiencing. In smaller classes, professors are more in tune with their students and are more likely to realize when someone is in distress. However in large classrooms, where a student may only be one face in a crowd of hundreds, how likely is it that a professor could notice someone having a breakdown? How likely are they to try and reach out to that student? “For this piece, I documented a model in a few of the 200+ seat lecture halls on my campus, from the perspective of each room’s lectern. I then printed the image to create a life-sized model and inserted it into the lecture halls. From the viewpoint of the lectern, my photo-object creates the illusion of a student crying. My piece works to bring attention to issues surrounding mental well-being, and reduce the disconnect between professors and students.” IG: @ari_tubbs
CATHERINE COMTOIS Montreal, QC PSYKHE “Mind’s X-Ray (healing of the soul).” Shot with triple exposure on a 35mm color photo FUJIFILM 400. IG: @cheekatoo
HANNAH WITTS Toronto, ON
PINS AND NEEDLES “Depression is something that my family, friends, and I have struggled with. I created images that demonstrate the symptoms associated with depression such as feeling disconnected, having foggy thoughts, as well as the physical pain you sometimes wish to inflict on yourself. People struggle with mental health issues internally; however, my images speak to the way the effects of these struggles can show externally, even when we don’t want them to. I worked under the theme of “Pins and Needles”. This title evokes thoughts of sharp pinches of pain as well as the common name for when a part of your body goes numb. This speaks to the duality of the pain felt by those struggling depression. Pins and needles were used throughout my process, for example the black square stamps were made from out an imprint of small needles.” IG: @hannahwitts_
BARBARA BROWN Ottawa, ON
“G rief is a fact of life. Grief is a part of living a full life, the part when you have to say goodbye to those you love. Barbara Brown collaborated with ceramic artist Cynthia O’Brien over a year as they shared time as staff working in a long term care facility with the frail elderly. In focusing on the burden of grief they both carry from their professional and personal lives they came to a new way of appreciating and valuing their experience and in the process produced a powerful exhibition that
resonated deeply with the community. One of the pieces they created was “Columbarium: A Consequence of Life”, which offered a place for visitors to the exhibition to leave a memorial note for/to those who had died. In our contemporary culture we have few occasions or opportunities to remember those loved ones who have gone before us. The exhibition LifeCycle Conversations provided a venue and occasion for those memories to be honoured.”
IG: @bbrownarti www.barbarabro
IG: @cynbobin www.cynthiaobrien
SARA BAKKER Fredericton, NB
â€œI created this self portrait during a particularly difficult period of my life. I was just getting back to work after maternity leave, suffering from (at the time) undiagnosed postpartum anxiety and depression, and was starting to realize that my marriage was ending. I felt desperately alone, completely overwhelmed, and terrified. This image was the first step to admitting to myself and publicly that everything was not ok. It acted as a turning point in my mental health and as a reminder to have far I have come since its creation.â€? IG: @sarajean.photo
HOLLY NOËL Fredericton, NB
“This piece is about the difficulty of dealing with mental illness and it’s comorbid tag-alongs. Often mental illness stems from and creates other disorders, leading to exhausting and difficult days. Often, it may not appear as though someone is fighting battles inside their head. This exhaustion can be hard to explain to those who have never experienced it.”
DIPLOMA | 2 YEARS | 6 SEMESTERS
1 ST YEAR PHOTOGRAPHY STUDENT LIAM ENDRESEN MODEL AURORE PELLETIER
“TAKE YOUR BROKEN HEART, MAKE IT INTO ART.” — CARRIE FISHER
Karen Ruet, an educator at New Brunswick College of Craft and Design, shares her in-class experiences with students who were representing ideas of mental health. She asks, “How do you share your students’ stories respectfully while honouring their artwork and their privacy?”
t was the winter of 2016. My Representing Ideas class needed a topic for a short-term project. I didn’t set out to tackle mental health but the subject came up and more than one student agreed it was a good one to delve into.
I hadn’t realised at the time that so many of my students had such deeply personal experiences to express. I am not a mental health professional and my class was not meant to become a counselling session. We do have a full-time counsellor at our college and I was extremely grateful for her when we did this project because more than one student sought her out. Over the course of our classes, students sometimes left the room. When I asked for participants to share their work in this article, some backed out. Their topics still hit too close to home. One student told me her situation was ongoing and it was still
extremely difficult for her to discuss. It is one thing to make deeply personal art and show it in the safety of a classroom of your peers, but it can be something very different to talk about it publicly. The students who contributed their work for this article were brave to come forward. Their stories all influenced me in different ways for different reasons. In discussing this article, alumna Bailey Rogers shared a Carrie Fisher quote with me: “Take your broken heart, make it into art.” This quote resonated with me strongly, and so did Bailey’s story. In 2016, Bailey created a series of self-portraits to share her brother’s story. He had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Bailey had already been working with conceptual composite images and used this storytelling method for this project. She
researched the illness and coupled that information with her brother’s experience to visually express putting herself in his shoes. Bailey said that up until her brother’s diagnosis, she and her family had only ever read about schizophrenia or seen it portrayed in movies. She didn’t know anyone who had the illness and, if anyone she knew did have it, no one was talking about it. The Canadian Mental Health Association says that this is the norm and that there are many misconceptions about people diagnosed with this condition.
PREVIOUS PAGE: Bailey Rogers, 2016. Bailey created a series of self-portraits to share her brother’s story. He had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. ABOVE: Alexandrea Tarrant, 2016. Alexandrea’s visual interpretation of nightmare disorder. LEFT: Natasha Stephanie Hoskins, 2016. Natasha Stephanie relived the horrible feelings that occurred when she was being bullied.
The image Bailey created represents feelings of paranoia. For people suffering with schizophrenia, the feeling of someone watching them is very real and is often accompanied by strong hallucinations. They don’t feel safe. They feel vulnerable and alone in their experiences. Bailey also commented, “When we were given this assignment, half the class was somewhat confused and the other half a bit startled. Some students worked well with the idea that photographs could express feelings and emotions, and others couldn’t grasp the concept. How can I photograph an invisible illness? I think, after presenting the project, a lot of us had really grown from the assignment and we now had this connection with each other that we hadn’t had before.” “Schizophrenia isn’t my diagnosis,” said Bailey, “but mental illness not only affects the diagnosed person we love, but also the people around that person as well. We need to keep in mind that the most important thing we can do is to listen to our loved ones and to provide as much support as we can for them. This topic gave me the opportunity to educate myself on my brother’s illness and to share my own experience with my class. It was difficult, but I felt that it was important. You never know who else could be silently struggling, and could benefit from what you have to say.” Alexandrea Tarrant said that it didn’t take her long to pick a topic no one else would have thought to investigate. She took the opportunity to research a health issue known as nightmare disorder. Alexandrea does not suffer from this disorder but felt it was important to bring awareness to the subject. She, like Bailey, made self-portraits and chose to put herself in the position of the person suffering. “Nightmare disorder is not just about having bad dreams,
it is about being plagued with nightmares so much during the night that you can’t sleep,” she shared. Another of my students, Natasha Stephanie Hoskins, explored her past experience of being bullied by recalling the names she had been called. The intensity of the harassment affected her life on every level, at home and at school. “As someone who has been bullied, it can be tough to continue to go to school. But what was worse for me was that it wasn’t just classmates bullying me in person, I was also cyberbullied. It was tough going to school and keeping a straight face as if they weren’t getting a rise out of me, but every night for roughly eight months I basically cried myself to sleep.” “This topic was difficult,” said Natasha Stephanie, “because I had to relive all the horrible feelings that occurred when I was being bullied and before I stood up for myself. I finally confronted the people who were bullying me in person and put a stop to the cyberbullying by talking to a cop. It was the hardest thing I ever did but it gave me my life back. That’s the story behind my images: how I survived being bullied.
Natasha Stephanie commented that the experience of being in a classroom full of other students all tackling different issues regarding mental health was educational. She said that hearing the stories and seeing the pictures that her classmates came across when researching and completing their assignments was unforgettable. A crucial component of great art is intimacy, and that can come from different sources. Personal experiences, when effectively conveyed, can create emotional connections in viewers that linger long after they stop looking at a work. These days more students are coming forward with illnesses such as depression, eating disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). My hope is that this experience will make them not only more creative image-makers, but also more empathetic members of society who are less likely to stigmatize people who experience mental health challenges. Would I take on mental health again with a class? I don’t know, but I’m glad PhotoED Magazine is taking this topic on.
PSYCHE ISSUE 11 ARTISTIC EXPLORATIONS OF THE MIND
COVER PHOTOGRAPHER NIENKE IZURIETA
TREAT YOURSELF & CONNECT
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SARA HARLEY STROKE OF EMOTIONS
“SOMETIMES I CRY SO HARD I THINK THE TEARS WILL NEVER STOP. SOMETIMES I FEEL SO TIRED I WANT TO LAY MY HEAD DOWN AND SLEEP FOREVER. SOMETIMES I FEEL ABSOLUTELY NOTHING AND WONDER IF I WILL EVER FEEL HAPPY AGAIN.”
LEFT: “Anger,” From the Stroke of Emotions series. RIGHT: “Strength,” From the Roots + Wings series.
I WROTE THOSE WORDS in a workbook I keep on my desk when I was feeling particularly overwhelmed and vulnerable a few weeks after a health crisis in my family. We all face challenges in life. Sometimes life throws you a hard ball and knocks you off your feet. Whether it’s a health crisis, the loss of a job, the loss of a loved one, or any other unpleasant surprise, we all have things we need to cope with that stretch us beyond what we think we can bear. And if you haven’t face a serious problem yet, you will. Because life is like that. My husband had a major stroke in 2017 and his health crisis became my health story as well. He obviously had huge physical and mental challenges to overcome, and I am not comparing my experience to his. However, as his life partner and sole caregiver, I experienced a roller coaster of feelings throughout his months of hospitalization and rehabilitation. During those terrible weeks immediately after my husband’s stroke, I needed an outlet to deal with my emotions. My “go to” hobby is photography, but I had no time or inclination to head out with my camera after a long day at the hospital. However, my hobby did become a healing tool for me. I am an introvert at heart and am not one to talk about my innermost thoughts with other people. In order to calm my mind and “voice” my thoughts, I decided to use my library of photographs to create a series of composited self portraits to portray my various feelings and emotions. Many people have heard of the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. My approach was to make a photo catalogue depicting my own stages and feelings. Putting myself into the image made it more real to me. The word uppermost in my mind in the early weeks was “devastation” and I sat down at my computer one evening to try to
put together an image that depicted that feeling. I sea my photographic library for things that shouted “dev me. I decided to use an image of a clear cut forest as t purchased a “grain sack” type of dress at our local se clothing store and got to work taking self portraits in
My first attempt was not pretty but it helped me and I the process to create 14 images, refining things along images were all based on words that were personal to experience - “overwhelm”, “denial”, “depression”, “su “hope” to name a few. Ranging from devastation to r they told my story and visually described my healing This project helped me in different ways. First, I ackn own feelings and I had a way to express them withou put them into words. Second, concentrating on learni to me skill of using layers and masks forced my mind occupied with something other than feeling complete overwhelmed.
Wikipedia describes journal therapy as a writing ther the writer’s internal experiences, thoughts and feeling using self portraits to express myself seemed easier th put my feelings into words. In my experience, pictori therapeutic and was much more meaningful for me b visual person.
During the creation of these images, a project that I c Emotions, I never intended to show them to anyone els personal and private, a visual representation of my ow journey. However, the world works in mysterious way I was wrapping up my series a call came out for subm exhibit called ‘Picturing Health’, developed in partne ViewPoint Gallery in Halifax and the Robert Pope Fo
arched through vastation” to the base. I cond hand n my bedroom.
I continued g the way. The o me and my upport”, and rejuvenation, journey. nowledged my ut having to ing the new d to become ely helpless and
apy focusing on gs. Somehow, han trying to alization was because I am a
called Stroke of se. They were wn emotional ys and when missions to an ership between oundation.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: “I Had A Dream,” From the Differentiation series. “Messenger,” From the Roots + Wings series. “Change,” From the Roots + Wings series. “Release,” From the Roots + Wings series.
The project offered an opportunity to use photographic imagery to explore the complex relationship between wellness and creativity. It seemed a sign to me that I was meant to share my project and my experience. In a giant leap of faith I submitted five images, the maximum allowed, and all five were selected for inclusion in the exhibit. At the same time, I was contacted by our local library and was asked to mount a solo exhibit. I believed so strongly in the power of healing through art that I decided to continue with the theme. Two of my favourite things to photograph are birds and trees, so I created a new series of composited images called “Roots + Wings”. I believe trees represent growth and strength, with roots to ground us
in our traditions. I see birds in flight as symbols of freedom, with the power of dreams and life renewed. The images I created portrayed the stages of emotional healing, from tragedy through restoration. This time, I wrote verse to correspond with each image. Like many devastating challenges, dealing with brain injury is not an easy road, nor is it a quick healing process. It’s a pilgrimage, sometimes rewarding, and often difficult. I first learned the term “ambiguous loss” last year, two years into the journey of my husband’s recovery. After a brain injury, a loved one is physically present, yet transformed in countless, often subtle ways that totally change the essence of the person. That is a difficult thing to deal with and I have had times of terrible grief and feelings of complete helplessness, combined with a sense of guilt that I should be a better
person. There have been moments when my sadness has been so great that it was a physical thing, squeezing my heart and stealing my breath. I have had periods of self doubt so overwhelming that I didn’t think I could cope with the future. I didn’t think I would have the patience or ability to do what I needed to do, or be who I needed to be. Through it all, I have used photography to help me cope. As I moved through my healing process, I relied less on creating composited images and I searched for “real life” scenes that portrayed feelings and emotions. A solo robin singing on a bare tree limb became “Song of Joy”. An ant crawling up a flower stem became “Journey”. A boat hull with a red stripe and black lines dripping with rain became “I See Red”. Layers of sand, called “Shifter”, represented the sands of time and a complex life. The possibilities and photo opportunities were endless, even for a person like me whose only photographic excursion was a daily dog walk. Most recently, I began to wonder if there was a relationship between
LEFT: “Overwhelm,” From the Stroke of Emotions series. RIGHT: “Isolation,” From the Stroke of Emotions series.
the images I made and my state of mind. This thought reminded me of a self-help book called “The Secret” that was quite popular in 2006. In a nutshell, the theory is about the law of attraction and claims that thoughts can directly change a person’s life. Around the same time I stumbled across a book about discovering joy...feeling good in the moment. My work in progress is a series I call “Comfort + Joy”, images that celebrate little things, small moments in everyday life that say joy to me. I still feel lost and afraid at times, and I probably always will. But I am learning that other people feel that way too. And I am learning that sharing is one of the most important tools in healing. As a visual person, I share through my photography.
SARAHARLEY.COM IG: @SARAHARLEY.PHOTOS
TORONTO MAY 2020
Taiyo Onorato & Nico Krebs, X6, 2019. Courtesy of the artist.
In need of a breather? If youâ€™ve been looking for a low-pressure way to browse budget analog camera equipment and general photographic history, consider dropping into the May 31 Spring Camera Fair at Trident Hall in Etobicoke. Youâ€™ll explore tables of unusual and familiar fare, chat with indie vendors and come away with colossal bargains. Think of it as a break with benefits. Check the PHSC newsletter for details.
CANADIAN PHOTOGRAPHY IN A BRAND NEW LIGHT
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The SPRING/SUMMER 2020 DIGITAL edition EXTRAS - features FOUR stories from our PRINT issue including: Bryce Evan's The One Project, Karen R...
Published on Apr 30, 2020
The SPRING/SUMMER 2020 DIGITAL edition EXTRAS - features FOUR stories from our PRINT issue including: Bryce Evan's The One Project, Karen R...