500px is committed to providing photographers with opportunities to participate in evolving trends within commercial advertising. We not only want to provide an authentic look at global experiences, but redefine representation and drive inclusivity within commercial photography.

To do this, we launched the 500px Commercial Grants program to help develop content representative of evolving trends around the world. In November 2020, we launched the Commercial Grant for Reimagining Mental Health, which saw the 500px team partner with creators in an effort to destigmatize the depiction of mental health and broaden representation within commercial advertising.

Reimagining Mental Health focused on stories that promote an inclusive look at how mental health is portrayed in advertising while reimagining how a variety of themes can help drive awareness and messaging within the mental health industry.

The five photographers below each received Commercial Grants of $1,000 US:

Diane Adam

Paris, France

“I am a French photographer who loves creating conceptual photos. I approached the question of “Mental Health” with sensitivity and tried to create metaphors within my work. In my photos the subject is anonymous, the face doesn’t reflect any emotion, it’s other elements that call for reflection. The interpretation of my work will depend on your emotions, your experience, your personality.”

Helena Lopes

Belo Horizonte, Brazil

“During those darkest moments, it can be difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It is in these moments that we learn exactly how strong we are and what we are capable of overcoming and surviving. This series is representative of hope, the light in the lantern is small in contrast to the vast space within the dark forest, but offers a metaphor of warmth, opportunity, and guidance as we navigate uncertainty or feelings of confusion, fogginess, or being lost.”

Jonut Runcan

Cluj-Napoca, Romania

“I was born and raised in Romania, a country located in Central-Eastern Europe, where our recent history had terrible effects on our cultural values and freedoms. The people were governed by fear on everything, including what kind of emotions you should display in public. Admitting to mental health issues has a stigma attached to it because it attracts negative connotations and misunderstanding.

I am grateful for the opportunity to build a visual testament to help combat misconstrued notions surrounding mental health. The human experience is complex, full of twists and turns. It provides a space to explore these concepts and find significance or understanding within our differences and build paths toward acceptance, love, and togetherness.”

Gabriel Lam

Ho Chí Minh, Viet Nam

“Recently I have been using a direct flash technique. It directs the focus toward the model, making them the highlight in the image. I am a huge fan of Hong Kong cinema from the 80s and 90s which also influences my photography. I incorporate shadow to support the dominant colors of the subject in the photo, which also draws influence from Wong Kar Wai’s films.

My work depicts loneliness, because they are young people living in a big city. In my country, the rate of depression is 5% of the population, most of it amongst young people. The pressures they face every day can easily cause depression that can be difficult for them to understand. When I photograph them, they are simply expressing their feelings of sadness, depression, frustration about themselves and my job is to capture those moments.”

Renat Renee-Ell

Saint Petersburg, Russia

“I did several shoots with different models looking for simple ways to express the inner emotions. For example, the hoodie worn backwards and the face hidden in the hood, the parallels between the pattern of the plaid sweater creates metaphorical bars, the crumpled plastic cups symbolic of emotional well being (literally and figuratively), and so on.”

The 500px Commercial Grant: Reimagining Mental Health is part of the 500px Commercial Grants program, which has awarded over $20,000 US to photographers worldwide. You can learn more about 500px Commercial Grants and how you can contribute to diversifying representation here.

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