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Consumed: Mental Illness Through Photography is a series imagined by Paul M. Falcone.


Since I was 13 years old I have faced depression and anxiety and have struggled my whole life trying to explain what it feels like to people. Often the words would come up short, and even the poems, songs, and stories I wrote didn’t seem to fully paint a picture into someones head who couldn’t understand what I was going through. It was then that I decided to try my luck in photography, attempting to actually put an image into their head instead of just explaining it.

And thats when the Consumed project was born.

The project is conducted by a team led by myself, Paul Falcone, but also includes photographer Zachary Johnson and artists Alyssa Rogalaski and Josh Paciga.

What is the Consumed project about? 

The project aims to use photography to demonstrate the internal battle that people with different mental illnesses face and to challenge/enhance/complicate our culture’s understanding of what mental illness is. By using paint as body art, I plan to design different themes on the skin of the models to demonstrate my interpretation of what these different mental illnesses would look like on the outside.

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The photos will aim to accurately depict the feelings that are internal, externally. Because so much of the stigma attached to mental illness is to due to the lack of education and understanding simply because we can’t see it. These photos will help fight the perception of who mental illness can affect, and reveal how much of an invisible illness it is. Even those who are seen as “normal”, “composed”, or “stable” could be fighting a mental “invisible” illness. An invisible illness that nonetheless needs to be taken very seriously.

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Currently there are photography series that aim to represent mental health issues, but these images tend to reinforce stereotypes about mental illness (see for example: a google of “depression photos”).  Images that are meant to depict depression show the person overwhelmed with sadness in the corner of their bedroom, plotting suicide, or exposing parts of their body with self harm. These are common themes that go hand in hand with depression, but I can’t help but feel that something is not being displayed.

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My images challenge people’s notions of what mental illness looks like; My photo series works to show that mental illness can happen to anyone. I intentionally selected people who are perceived as traditionally attractive and from diverse backgrounds to counteract the perception that there is a certain “type” of person who gets a mental illness. It is not only the quiet child in high school who is overweight and gets constantly bullied. It can be the star on the football team, a police officer, or the CEO of a company. There are no boundaries to mental illness, and my photos will challenge the perception that there are.

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The project is just getting started. More models of different races are getting involved with multiple sexual orientations and identities to show that there is no one culture that is affected by mental illness. It can affect any human being at anytime of their life. So if any of these photos relate to you know that you are not alone in what you fight.

You are loved.

Find the latest posts in the Consumed Project here. 

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