The inspiration behind the shoot was mostly the room itself. Aakaash was the main person behind the concept. He wanted to created smething that would make sense for the setting we were in. The room really helped create the concept. Being in an actual abaondoned psych center, we decided to use a mental illness that isn’t often portrayed, or at least portrayed in a manner that isn’t just a stigma. When writing the captions it helped a lot that I have a background in psychology. I was able to use a lot of my knowledge from what i’ve studied to help make the captions as realistic as possible. Schizophrenia was one of my main research focuses in college.
When I began brainstorming ideas for this set, I was heavily influenced by the location we created this in. Kings Park Psychiatric Center is a well known abandoned hospital with a rich, somewhat dark past. When Exhibit8 (@exhibit8) created their incredibly "reverse vandalism" project, I was amazed by the effort and saw an incredible opportunity, with their blessing, to shoot inside their space.
My intent was to use the only renovated/clean room in the psychiatric center to offer a glimpse of what day-to-day life for a patient admitted there would be like. I wanted to raise awareness to the serious implications of mental illness, specifically Schizophrenia, and how it would affect an individual suffering from it. The project's intent was to use this room as a set for what a patient's living quarters would be like prior to the abandonment of the hospital. I consider it somewhat of a "time travel" project, with authentic treatment notes and patient logs.
I also wanted one image to portray the point of view of the patient, Charlotte, as she would see herself.
Reflections are everywhere. In our mirrors, our windows, our phone screens, and other random shiny surfaces throughout the world. I wanted the simple concept of reflection to trigger Charlotte's symptoms, simply as an indicator of how intense daily symptoms could be, even from the smallest triggers.
The final image, with the "sterile" room inside contrasting with the rusty, grimy exterior was meant to be a comparison between the world Charlotte sees, and the world she actually lives in.
Mental illness is worldwide, widespread issue. You may be, or may have suffered from it. Your friends may be. Your family may be. Sometimes, you wouldn't even know if someone is suffering from a mental illness and often times, they would not speak openly about it.
Mental illnesses have the potential to severely disrupt lives. They have the potential to cause harm to oneself, or to someone else. They have the potential to impact the futures of young minds and adult minds alike. For many people, this is already occurring, and I feel that the topic should be openly discussed.
Mental illness awareness is a step towards treatment.
I hope it leaves viewers with a story they want to know more about. They’ve gone on a journey through each photo reading about this girls time in a ward, with symptoms that can be very real for someone struggling with Schizophrenia. I hope that at least one person can walk away looking at mental illness in a less stigmatized way, and that it can be very scary for the people that are going through it, they need all the support they can get.
I would hope that this project, along with any other images we've submitted to this publication would not only help individuals realize the importance and severity of mental illness, but to also inspire others to create artwork that really pushes their limits and comfort levels.
Many of these images required lots of pre-planning/storyboarding, production design, and lots of intricate post-production. My favorite type of photography is that similar to cinema, in the sense that it tells a story, is planned well, and is executed properly. I would hope that these images inspire other amazing artists to think out of the box and create something new and impactful.
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