Bryce’s Style: Bringing Mental Health into Focus

 

“It all started with my own story of using photography as a way to overcome my mental health challenges.”

Bryce is the Founder of a social enterprise called The One Project: an online photography community for people who live with depression and anxiety. Alongside The One Project, Bryce has worked as a marketing consultant, focusing on web design, campaign development, and social media strategy. He describes his own artwork as a mix of fine art with travel, landscape, and adventure photography.

When I asked Bryce to tell me more about The One Project his eyes lit up.

“The One Project is about using photography as tool for communication. It’s for anyone who is facing anxiety or depression and interested in using photography to tell a story. Right now, we have a free online platform that people can sign up for, and that will teach them techniques to share a story through photographs and writing. They can post stories, connect with the community, receive support, and hopefully overcome what they’re going through.”

Bryce hopes that community members will be inspired to start their own photo series or body of work around a theme that is meaningful to them.

Bryce’s creative flare extends beyond his photos to involve his wardrobe.

He describes his style as “a mix between comfortable and stylish.”

“When I look around Vancouver, I often see lots of earthy tones and neutral palates, so in my design style and artwork, I like to contrast that by using bold and bright colours,” Bryce shared.

In the past, particularly when he was navigating mental health struggles, Bryce would opt for colourful clothing pieces to try to brighten his day. He also owned plenty of shirts with inspirational quotes and messages with the hope that he would spread positivity to each person he walked by.

“Overall,” Bryce said, “I have transitioned away from owning clothes that are considered ‘cool’ to owning clothes that are both comfortable and expressive.”

Bryce also has a tattoo on his arm which represents the “positive impact on the world” that he wants to make. It was inspired by his grandfather’s kind spirit.

“My grandfather’s death hit me pretty hard when I was really low in my depression. It made me slow down and really evaluate my life, seeing how he impacted so many people in such simple, yet powerful ways. I realized that I wanted to have that type of impact, but I wasn’t going down the right path. It was a major turning point in my life, and I wanted to commemorate that shift with this tattoo. Now, it remains a symbol to my mission in life.”

Quick Questions with Bryce

Tell us about a time where you surprised yourself with something you accomplished.

The year of 2013 was exciting and intense. “Surprised” doesn’t even cover the emotions I was going through that entire year. It was a constant stream of big life events that were beyond my expectations.

First, I won a contest to have my art photography exhibited in hundreds of shopping malls across Canada in video displays. Then, I won another art exhibition in Calgary. Through serendipitous connections, I started working with LUSH Cosmetics and did an ‘erase bullying’ campaign with them in their stores across Canada and the USA. That was huge. At the same time, I was introduced to someone in Italy running a conference on therapeutic photography and social action photography (that is, people either using photography to help themselves or help other people in creative ways). I was invited to exhibit my artwork and speak at the conference about The One Project.

Have the following years been quite exciting as well?

Directly after the Italy exhibition, I was wondering how to continue that momentum and where to go from there. There have been some big highlights like those from 2013, but they happen in different ways. I don’t think they are as condensed into such a short time period. It is difficult to maintain that momentum. I needed some self-work to find a better balance.

What advice would you give to others who are navigating similar mental health challenges that you went through?

It depends on where people are at in their journey. With anxiety and depression in particular, we are oftentimes focused on the worst thing that can happen. However, when we actually do the math (roughly) on the probability that the awful thing will happen, it’s very low. I’ve personally shifted my mindset to see the other side of the spectrum. I ask myself, “What’s the best thing that can happen?”

 Where do people stumble with their understanding of mental illness, and what changes would you like to see?

The way that I see it, there are two groups of responses to mental illness:

  • There are people who are super comfortable with talking about mental illness. Although they may still be struggling, they have taken steps towards understanding their condition and continue to learn more about it. Perhaps these people have even overcome their challenges and become advocates for others living with mental health challenges. More conversations are happening in this area.
  • The other group of people are very uncomfortable with talking about mental illness. Many are still silent about it. There is stigma, there are misunderstandings, and it’s difficult to put emotions into words a lot of the time. Experiences and feelings of these challenges are hard to fit into our vocabulary.

I don’t think that people should be forced to use words to explain themselves. I want to support those who feel uncomfortable to talk about mental illness to try using photography as a way to take easier, smaller steps forward. Instead of asking someone to talk about their experiences with mental illness – especially when they may have been silent about it for years of their life – they can try using nonverbal communications like photography. Reframing how we talk about mental health to include photography would be incredible.

When I asked Bryce what he felt most proud of, he sat back and smiled.

“One of my goals in life was to present a TEDx talk, and I did that at the end of last year. I think I did my absolute best at it. Five years ago, I would never have thought that I could tell someone about what I was going through. Standing on a stage and sharing my story with hundreds, potentially thousands of people…that was a huge deal for me. I’m still sharing my story today and making an impact through my social enterprise. The amount of times I’ve thought of quitting is countless, so the fact that I have persevered is something I’m proud of.”

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A big thank-you to Bryce for sharing his experiences with us! To get involved with The One Project, visit their website to learn more. You can also stay up to date with Bryce’s inspiring work through Instagram.