Photo project inspires Facebook community

Anna Lang

Photos courtesy of Areanna Bennet For updates on “Uplift” or to view more photos, visit Bennett’s photography page at www.facebook.com/photographybyareannagizelle.
Photos courtesy of Areanna Bennet
For updates on “Uplift” or to view more photos, visit Bennett’s photography page at www.facebook.com/photographybyareannagizelle.

“Project Uplift” started as a final project for senior photography and psychology major Areanna Bennett for Winter 2013. She photographed herself and 16 friends topless and holding in front of them a positive word they chose to describe themselves.

She posted the project on Facebook and received a lot of positive feedback.“People just seemed interested in it,” Bennett said. “I definitely was not expecting this much attention from it.”

Her goal was to photograph at least 100 people, but has already photographed more than 200. She based her idea on the “Glee” episode where  characters write one insecurity about themselves and wear it to school for a day.

“My mindset is if you focus on a negative thing, whether you’re embracing it or not, your mind is still going to be focusing on that negative thing,” Bennett said. “So I said, ‘Why don’t we just take a positive idea and shed light on that?’”

Bennett said some people she photographs find it takes courage to start, but that all seem to walk away feeling empowered.

“That’s something that I love,” Bennett said.

Besides offering a sense of confidence to the photographee, the pictures also tell stories.

“I recently photographed a family,” Bennett said. “The mom chose ‘survivor,’ the dad chose ‘blessed’ and the little girl (her name’s Madison), her word was ‘miracle.’ They took the pictures together and the mom almost died giving birth. It’s kind of cool seeing different ties.”

Bennett said the goal of Project Uplift is to empower people, but has no other definitive plans.

“I’ve had a couple of people say I should get it published,” Bennett said. “If I want to get it published, I would probably get in touch with everyone who was a part of it and have them write a short paragraph about why they chose the word for themselves and put it next to their picture, but that’s a lot of money I don’t have.”

Junior music and media production major Hannah Moran is creating a documentary for the project for BC 410 The Documentary.

“It’s really interesting,” Moran said. “A pattern that’s definitely there is people come in nervous and leave with a totally different attitude.”

Moran said she asks every participant the same question.

“A question I ask is how they felt coming in, and how they felt coming out,” Moran said. “One hundred percent said it was really fun and they felt beautiful inside and out.”

Moran would like to have a screening of the documentary on campus for participants and anyone else who is interested.

The last opportunities to participate in Project Uplift will be noon to 5 p.m. Friday, April 11 and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 12 in Art and Design building, Room 190.

For more information about the documentary, or to contribute, email Moran at [email protected]