Belfast launches first photography conference to assist with mental health support

Looking through a different lens, this year Belfast Exposed will launch the first of its kind photography conference, with a focus on helping people improve their mental health.

Spanning from 3-4th April 2023, the conference, known as ‘Healing Through Photography’, will bring together academics, award-winning photographers, students and mental health and wellbeing professionals to display how photography can help tame your mental health.

buildings near body of water at daytime

Addressing key themes including memory, trauma, racism, body image, homelessness and stress, the conference will share first-hand the work Belfast Exposed – a Northern Irish contemporary photography organisation – have been doing across the UK and Ireland.

Chief Executive of Belfast Exposed, Deirdre Robb, said: ‘’Healing Through Photography’ is going to be a very special and fulfilling two-day event to be held in the heart of the Cathedral Quarter.

‘We believe this event to be the first of its kind, providing an immense opportunity to bring discussions and share the best practises on the benefits of photography to support mental health and wellbeing.

‘Over two days the conference will provide attendees with the opportunity to engage with keynote speakers, experience 11 visual art exhibitions, participate in workshops and artist talks and take part in a number of events including an adventurous sunrise photoshoot on Cave Hill above the city, and a Maritime walk along the quays.

‘We are delighted with the support from Baring Foundation and our partners Victoria Square to make this conference a reality for so many.’

Held at the Metropolitan Art Centre (MAC), the conference, which is ticketed at £30 per day, will include talks from industry professionals including Pulitzer Prize Winner Cathal McNaughton and acclaimed photographer Donovan Wylie, as well as showcasing work from Belfast Exposed.

In addition, Northern Ireland mental health champion, Professor Siobhan O’Neill and Darren Ferguson from Beyond Skin – an organisation which artistic teaching to help empower young people in Belfast – will be joining the line-up.

According to research from the Mental Health Foundation, 20% of adolescents may experience a mental health problem in a given year and 50% of mental health problems are established by the time a young person hits 14, with 75% diagnosed by the time an individual reaches 24.

Against this backdrop, the new conference should be a welcomed way into helping people manage their own mental health.

Photo by K. Mitch Hodge and Christian Wiediger


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