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Joy Studio - THRIVE Project

Welcome to the THRIVE Project that I launched specifically for survivors of abuse. The vision is “don’t just survive, THRIVE!”

I became a portrait photographer specialising in women’s portraiture because I believe women are under-represented in photos. Women are usually over-giving to others without stopping to give to themselves. My purpose is to give them an experience where they can slow down, relax, get pampered, acknowledged and appreciated. I began to see that women would come into the studio nervous and stressed and slowly they would drop their tensions and their masks and begin to bloom. They would start enjoying themselves and become more comfortable and confident in their skin. I would then photograph this glowing, confident, joyful woman.

Then it struck me, if a shoot could do that to a normal woman, what wonders would it do to a survivor of domestic violence or any kind of abuse, whose sense of self-worth can sometimes dip.

I also did not like the word ‘survivor’, it sounds like you are just getting by like a bottom feeder. “I just survived through life”, sounds so disempowering.  I would rather say ‘Life threw these curve balls at me and I not only survived, I thrived.”

That’s the mojo behind the THRIVE Project.

Joy Studio - Thrive Project

They will receive a free photo shoot in my Upper Hutt studio with hair and makeup and several wardrobe changes. And three 8”x10” photos matted to 11”x14” for free.

The aim of the photo shoot is to have them the centre of attention with the spotlight on them. This usually fosters a sense of ‘I am worth it’. It also enriches their sense of self-worth and makes them feel like they are deserving of being seen, heard, acknowledged and celebrated. It can be quite a transformative experience.

I plan to give them printed photos to hang on their wall, because PTSD is very hard to get rid of. Sometimes it blindsides you and reduces you to this weeping ball on the floor. I know this first hand because I am a DV survivor. So, on days when a feeling of victimhood pushes them into a quicksand of self-pity, instead of eating lots of cake or drinking lots of wine, they can look at this photo of a happy, confident, strong woman. This might enable them to change the story that’s looping through their brain and make them feel powerful again.

A photo on the wall is a very powerful statement. Because the brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than the written word. So, it’s telling you a story worth a thousand words, 60,000 times faster. Just by hanging on the wall, it is sending subliminal messages that if they chose to believe, can alter their state.

I also plan to hold an exhibition after the shoots are done. I plan to take one photo of each woman wearing red. The exhibition to be called ‘The Thrive Project – Woman in Red’. RED is the colour of life, vigour, energy, passion, courage, power, will, confidence and desire. You need all of these to thrive and all these require passion, and the “life force” that drives passion, blood is red.

Joy Studio - THRIVE Project

Short stories from each woman’s life to be shared in blurbs next to the photos. The women and their families to be invited for a shared celebration of triumph. The Mayor of the city to be invited to grace the occasion. Invites to be sent to the Prime Minister and Minister for Women and Minister for Social Development.

The message I intend to convey through the exhibition and numerous blog posts is that people who come out of abusive situations are not in need of sympathy because sympathy is very disempowering. If possible, they need empathy and compassion.

I also wish to send the message out to women currently stuck in abusive relationships that it’s ok to leave. To show as an example, the THRIVERS who have not only survived but are thriving. This powerful example could give them the social permission to rethink their situation and some hope for the future.

If you wish to participate (or nominate someone) in this Project, please fill in the form below –

THRIVE Project