These portraits illustrate unique, personas of individuals living with a diagnosed mental illness. They convey an authentic and genuine perspective of their lives to viewers. The purpose of this work is to inspire hope that one is not defined by their mental illness, but can overcome adversity. The portraits aim to enhance the viewer’s understanding of mental illness by juxtaposing the realities of people living with a mental illness to societal stigmas. Thus, the work humanizes the misconceived perception of mental illness by fostering dialogue and giving voices to a misunderstood and misrepresented community.
I collaborated with each individual to represent their experience of life with a mental illness. Some chose to depict a moment or feeling of intense anxiety that is a result of their illness. Others show triumph in overcoming their illness and resisting defeat. Each person demonstrates the fundamental nature of the human spirit by persevering through extreme adversity. Courageously sharing a window into a world which may be unfamiliar, but often acutely similar to those not affected by mental illness, we challenge the boundaries of identity that society depicts of mental illness. In this work, I find purpose to my existence, and the people in these portraits serve as my source of inspiration to advocate on behalf of all who struggle with mental illness.
© Dan Fenstermacher Photography