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How I Found A Way To Focus On Mental Health Through Surreal Photography

By Gabriel Isak on March 5th 2019

I began exploring photography around 12 years ago, when I first faced depression as a way to express my state of mind. Photography allowed me to escape into a different world, one which I was creating, a place and a story that was lead by me, not that I was led by. However, I quickly lost passion for photography and everything else in life as I fell deeper into the depression until I picked it up again in 2014 when I was out of the dark hole.

At the time I was pursuing my BFA in Photography in San Francisco, and it was there that I unconsciously began creating surreal and melancholic images that were all a reflection of the years I lived with depression. From there on it has been a medium I use to document the internal world of the human, focusing on themes inspired by surrealism, psychology and our unconscious mind.

My work has been very personal to me, and functioned as a way to combat my own experiences I’ve had over the years. Each work is anonymous so the spectators can place themselves in the figures internal world and interact with the subjects, and in turn reflect back on their own journey in life.

I want my work to shine a light on mental health and the darker and lonelier side of the world that’s so common today, but still very hidden in our society.

You can find more of Gabriel Isak’s work on his website and social media channels (Facebook and Instagram).


All of the images in this article were used with direct permission from the artist.  Do NOT use or distribute the images without direct consent from the artist.

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Gabriel Isak was born in 1990 in Huskvarna, Sweden. In 2016, he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Photography at Academy of Art University in San Francisco, California. Isak has exhibited his work around the world in cities such as San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles and Sydney. Isak lives and works in Stockholm, Sweden, from where he travels all around the world for personal and commissioned projects.

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