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How youth are using night photography to find happiness

Updated: Feb 14, 2022

It has been a very cloudy and cold winter so far in Pinehouse Lake Saskatchewan. Most days and evenings have been cloudy and not the right settings for night photography.

"It has been really tough waiting everyday and every night to go out" says Dre Erwin, President of the Pinehouse Photography Club (PPC). "Photography gives myself and others an opportunity to not only learn a new skill, but gives us the opportunity to seek beauty and find happiness" says Erwin. "Not having the lights really does impact my own mental health as well".

The last 3 nights Pinehouse saw clear skies and northern lights!

"Finally" says Charlene Halkett, PPC member and volunteer.

Over the last 3 nights, 5-6 members of the PPC were able to get out and do night photography, some of them for the first time ever. 9 year old Aliyah Smith was one of them.

Along with other members, Aliyah quickly learned how to take pictures of the northern lights. "It was so much fun. I just didn't wanted to stop even though my toes were really cold the first night" said Smith.

"Doing night photography can seem intimidating at first because it requires some different equipment and techniques. But what we want to do to teach youth that it isn't that hard with the right direction" says Erwin.

The PPC organized in Pinehouse Lake and a branch of the Canadian PhotoHealth Authority, using therapeutic photography to help teach photography to youth and use the skill to help them answer questions such as "How does taking this picture make you feel? What do you want other people to think/feel when they see this picture? How does taking pictures and being apart of this club help with your own mental health?

For Aliyah, "photography makes me feel happy!!"

"I want other people to think how amazing it is up here and I want them to see what I have done and I am just 9 years old", Smith. "We want youth to be proud of their community and we want them to practice seeing the good in life," says Erwin. "The more one looks for positivity, the more they will attract it in their own lives". For the youth and members of the PPC, this is what they aim to do not only in Pinehouse, but all over the country.

"Being in the club is awesome! I love photography especially with the northern lights and it makes me feel happy and I forget about any bad thoughts or feelings I might have", Smith. "When we were ready to leave, it was Aliyah who didn't want to stop lol" says Erwin. "She really enjoyed it!". "It is what the youth in Pinehouse are asking for...more of this!"

Situated in Pinehouse Lake, the PPC aims to provide cameras, equipment, and training to anyone in the community. "It's been a long, tough uphill battle at times" says Erwin. "Often we don't have enough volunteers to help either!" "It doesn't matter where I go, the gym, to the store, or messaging me on Facebook, youth are constantly asking me "When is the studio open?" When can we go out and take pictures?" says Erwin. "As a primary care nurse I have my own commitments and obligations but I see what the club is doing for youth as such an innovative way to help prevent mental health issues in the future!".

"It is the youth that really matter and their mental health so even though it's often very challenging, to me it is so worth it!" says Erwin

How can your community start a therapeutic photography club?

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Mountain Cliff Hiker with Dre Erwin

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