The project: What Mental Illness Feels Like—Images & Stories


What Mental Illness Feels Like—Images & Stories


The goal of this project, "What Mental Illness Feels Like—Images & Stories", is to create a connection with the viewer through photography and storytelling, decrease stigma and increase awareness of mental illness; and, ultimately, to humanize it.

Barb Kellogg, a photographer from Avon, Minnesota, created “What Mental Illness Feels Like—Images & Stories”, a photography project inspired by conversations with a friend who battled depression. The result of those conversations was a better understanding, not of the text book definition of the illness, but of how it actually felt to him in terms Barb could relate to. This experience eventually made her wonder how she, as a photographer, could translate mental illness so that people without it could visually see how it feels, and hopefully relate in some way. After interviewing people living with mental illness, Barb created visual analogy photographs for each person based on their conversations about what their mental illness felt like. The exhibit also includes short stories and portraits of each person Barb interviewed. The goal of “What Mental Illness Feels Like” is to create understanding of mental illness, decrease stigma, and, ultimately, to humanize it.

The online version of the project

A condensed version of the Images & Stories can be seen at this link .


This project was stewing in my head for several years before it started in the spring of 2017. It wasn't until a friend who knew a friend introduced me to Sue, then the program manager of Catholic Charities Hope Community Support in St. Cloud, Minnesota. She had been looking for a photographer to work on something mental health related. We were the perfect match! And I can't thank the Dale (the current program manager), clients and staff enough at Hope, as without them, this project would not be what it is today. Everyone was 110% behind me and my efforts. (Many of their clients are a part of this project.) I still can't believe that so many people were interested in being interviewed and photographed. I honestly don't think I'd be as candid if the roles were reversed.

Partial funding of this activity was made possible through a grant from the Central Minnesota Arts Board, thanks to funds provided by The McKnight Foundation.

Exhibited at:

  • May 2nd — 26th, 2018: Gallery St. Germain, 912 West St. Germain, St Cloud, MN

  • June 20th — Aurora Community Center, Aurora, MN

  • July 2018 — CentraCare Health Plaza, St Cloud, MN

  • August & September 2018 — Whitney Senior Center, St Cloud, MN

What's Next?

Due to the fabulous and encouraging responses received during and after the main exhibit in May, I am continuing with this project, interviewing more people living with mental illness and creating imagery inspired by them. The goal is to have a book out by 2020. Book updates will be made via email through my Photography Newsletter (if you want news about everything: my nature photography, art events, and book updates), and my Book Update Newsletter (limited to book specific updates and info only).

If you've been living with a mental illness and want to share your story through an interview with me, please contact me.

Press Kit

Press Kit (includes Promotional Flyer, Cover Photo, Project Summary, About photographer Barb Kellogg, Contact Info, etc)