Photo Shoot for Mental Health Awareness - May 25th 2019

When January 2019 rolled around, I had an idea. I have known many individuals, including myself, who had been dealing with mental illness. But, unfortunately, mental health is something that people still don't take seriously. So I thought "how do I combine photography and awareness?" and Photo shoot for Mental Health Awareness was born. Here's how it worked:

With a minimum donation of $5, all money raised would be donated to the CMHA (Canadian Mental Health Association - Windsor Branch). Each photo session would only be about 5-10 minutes, and I had prepared chalk boards that people could write a message on to share with others. The message could be a quote they like, a positive message, or something personal to them. Then, participants could hold up the message and I would snap a few photos of it that could be shared on social media. With that idea in mind, I selected May 25th of the same year for the photo shoot, with time slots available between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

I had never organized a community project before, so I really was not sure what the outcome would be. Much to my surprise, the time slots booked up within days! But I didn't want to turn anyone away, so I started taking people on random days throughout March and all the way until end of June! The event on the 25th was going to be held at Jackson Park, but it was predicted to thunderstorm all day, so I had to come up with a back-up plan. Luckily, with only a few days notice, I was able to host the event at Cardinal Music! Thank you so much, Joe Cardinal, for helping to bring my first community project to life!

Admittedly, I woke up feeling anxious on the morning of the event; I had many people coming and didn't know how it was going to go. I even had a makeup artist volunteer her time for a few hours to provide makeup for anyone who wanted some for their session. After watching the clock, and pacing back and forth, my first client arrived. Everyone who came was amazing, and something that I thought was interesting is that nobody wrote the same message. Some people even brought their own props or had more than one message to share. Every type of emotion was expressed that day, and I had many people stay and chat afterwards about why they wrote what they wrote. It sparked some interesting conversations and we raised so much awareness about the importance of mental health support.

By the end of the event, I felt so good about myself. After capturing everyone’s messages and counting the donation, $535.00 was raised for the CMHA. Due to the success, I have decided to turn this project into an annual event, held every spring! Stay tuned for details on the next one.