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Danielle Hark & The Broken Light Collective

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Meet Danielle Hark, passionate mental health advocate and wellness warrior. And while she wrestles with many mental health issues, she is also a stunning photographer who explores our delicate world with the help of her camera.

In fact, she says, it was photography that saved her from death after one of her most severe “crashes” during a particularly dark time. 

 

I started shooting every day after the crash, whenever I felt stressed, anxious, sleepless, or depressed, I just kept shooting. . . It didn’t matter if the subject was me, my socks, or cracks in the ceiling, I just needed to keep doing it. Keep going. Keep creating.

 

Photography became a creative outlet, an emotional outlet, and an escape. I could create new worlds through my lens. It also became a way to ground myself in the present and not get lost in my spiraling negative thoughts.

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Danielle even brought her photography into her therapy.

We started doing assignments, my therapist and I, to keep the photography momentum going. At times we would even use the photos in my therapy sessions. They expressed certain thoughts and feelings better than I ever could with words. Dreams. Fears. Nightmares.

In her effort to share her discovery with others who are struggling, Danielle created Broken Light Collective, a website that presents the images of photographers from all over the world who are living with or who are affected by mental illness.

I named it Broken Light Collective in part because so many of us feel broken, but there can be a beauty in brokenness, and we can share that beauty and spread the light. A light of hope, inspiration, and healing.

 

People from around the world immediately felt a connection with the site, and started creating and submitting their own photos that conveyed their deepest thoughts, feelings and emotions.

The images (including portrait, nature, travel, and conceptual photography) are visual stories that transport viewers to moments of great laughter and moments of heartbreaking tears, to despair, contemplation and ultimately hope.

Soon after launching the site, the submissions and comments started pouring in. I quickly realized that I was not alone in my struggles, and my desire to express myself creatively and connect with others who were also struggling.

 

It is a place to share our work, inspire others, and feel less alone.

The Broken Light Collective website has grown tremendously since Danielle started it in 2012.  Each year, the site has doubled the amount of viewers as the previous year, showing an amazing trajectory, and now boasts over 50,000 contributors and followers from 181 countries.

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Over the past few years, we have grown to become a family of sorts. A family of creatives supporting each other through both our struggles and recoveries. A family that is constantly growing and evolving. Getting to know each other through the images and stories we share.

Broken Light Collective became a 501(c)3 non-profit to expand its mission of empowering people with mental and developmental challenges, fighting stigma, and raising awareness using photography.

Danielle lives and photographs in New Jersey with her husband and favorite models — her two young daughters and shelter pup. For more information visit DanielleHark.com, twitter.com/DanielleHark, and instagram.com/daniellehark.

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Photograph by Danielle Hark

 

 


EDITOR IN CHIEF: Bud Clayman | EDITOR: Glenn Holsten | DESIGN: Leah Alexandra Goldstein
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Glenn Holsten

Glenn is an award-winning director who loves to create compelling documentary story experiences of all lengths for screens of all sizes. He is an avid reader, studied literature in college, and his passion for stories with strong characters and interesting narratives stems from those years. His career as a visual storyteller began at WHYY (the public television station in Philadelphia) where he worked for 15 years before becoming an independent filmmaker. In addition to his PBS documentaries about arts and culture, he has directed films about justice and human rights, and now, mental health. He was emboldened to undertake his current documentary project, Hollywood Beauty Salon, a colorful feature-length documentary about surviving mental illness and finding the courage for recovery, after his transformative experience directing OC87: The Obsessive Compulsive, Major Depression, Bipolar, Asperger’s Movie, along with Bud Clayman and Scott Johnston.

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