More People Should Shoot Cameras, NOT Guns (With Infographic)

Can Humanity Overcome This Hopeless Violence With Art?

Although I think that the media world is best avoided, and I try to keep my head clear of it, I find myself falling into the CNN trap at least once a day. What can I say? It happens. You want to carry-on and be normal, to keep working on “the dream,” but it creeps in:

The knowledge that all of these young people were killed this weekend for no reason, starting with Christina Grimmie – beautiful, full of talent, living her dream, and gracious enough to be signing autographs – killed while making herself accessible to her fans after having entertained them.  Those who died at Pulse were also young, beautiful, and filled with dreams, grace, love, and kindness. Everyone involved in these two crimes are too young to be spoken of in the past tense… including their assailants.

This has got me wondering what the world would be like if these troubled souls could take all that angst and put it down on a canvas…

Paint or learn the joy of processing a photograph digitally…

Pack art supplies instead of ammunition…

Shoot cameras instead of guns…


Create rather than destroy…

Become part of something bigger than their own petty prejudices and jealousies.

How does someone become disenfranchised any way?

How can you hate a total stranger that much?

How is it that humanity has gotten so off track that radicalization and brainwashing for evil is so easy?

Why can’t we reverse this trend with these lost souls?

Good always triumphs over evil… We just need to get organized, make a plan, and stop waiting for someone else to fix it.

What is the enemy saying and doing that we can’t say and do better?

WE NEED TO SNAP OUT OF IT! Wake up from whatever trance we’re in that makes us numbly move on every time something horrific like the events of this past weekend happens. We can’t just keep turning a blind eye and accepting the consequences. No, we need to act — do something to change the direction. Then, whether it works or not, at least when we look into the faces of our now young people in 10-15 years, we will know that we tried our best to fight back.

Exiting the gun debate, the true question that we, as a nation, should be asking is, “What can be done about the mental health situation in America?” This is where art comes into the conversation.

What’s Art Got to Do With It?

For me, art is therapy, among other things. It’s a way to express and capture the beauty that I see and search for in all things. My chosen form of expression is photography and also digital with the advent of digital image processing. The medium doesn’t matter as much as the act of creation, of making something. The immediate gratification of making something that is uniquely yours and offering it to the world. Whether the world likes it or not, doesn’t matter… because as an Artist you have already been paid in full by it’s physical existence. There’s peace and wonder in photography that brings me healing and keeps the “demons” at bay, I can’t imagine that I’m alone in this experience, it is bound to have a similar effect on other people.

To illustrate my point, the first topic I want to cover is the auspicious effect that art is proven to have on those suffering with mental illness. After all, poor mental health is the core issue with these shootings. Researchers from Brunel University point out the favorable effects that personal inclusion in an art gallery project had on participants suffering from mental illness in the “Ways of Seeing Project.” They concluded the study with positive results, including the following observations:

  • Participants felt a sense of inclusion and well-being, not previously experienced.
  • The audience of the show expressed positive feedback, including statements that they had experienced “thought-provoking” artwork.
  • The project challenged the mental health related assumptions of over 6,000 viewers.
  • Finally the project was “difficult” for participants to end – They didn’t want to stop creating!

This is just one of the many studies that have been conducted to find out whether or not art and photographic therapy do, in-fact, have a definite effect on the mentally ill (including those suffering with anti-social disorders). These studies echo each other with resounding positive psychological results. This, friend, is why more people should shoot cameras, NOT guns.

What is the Fiscal Budget for Art in the United States?

After further exploration, I was not at all surprised to find the possible correlation between a lack of arts funding and a high rate of violence across the globe. Here, the two sets of data are visually compared so that you can get an idea what the truth of the situation is.

This is Why More People Should Shoot Photos, NOT Guns Inforgaphic via @illumaglass

Click here to download infographic.

I think if you take the time to research more on your own, you will be as astounded as I was.

How Can You Begin to Make a Difference With Artistic Therapy Approaches to Mental Illness?

The short answer to this question is to educate yourself. Unfortunately, like the practice of any art form, we can’t measure the effects of artistic-based therapies like we can mathematical equations. This subject is difficult to gauge. Hence, the action toward promoting this information is minimal.

Fortunately, we can take it upon ourselves to educate and try to involve our communities in artistic projects. The more you know, the more you can help on an individual, national, and international level.

Here’s a list of things that you, as an artist, can do to help… Right now:

This isn’t all you can do, but these are some of the little things you can start working on today, to make a big impact. Encourage others to shoot cameras, not guns:

  1. Give your old camera or tablet away to someone besides a thrift store (your local mental health department, mental hospital, or other organization) and try your best to see it put to good use. If you’re giving it to an organization to make a decision, not an individual, make sure to let the staff know your intention.
  2. Create art that tells the story that you want the world to hear.
  3. Make a charitable donation to a cause that benefits art for the youth, or art as therapy.
  4. Print out a campaign from, and hang it somewhere visible in your community.
  5. Share articles and promotional materials that help spread the word about art and mental illness.
  6. Donate a piece of your art or photography to a benefit auction for mental health.
  7. Vote for laws that help increase spending on art in education.
  8. Use the hashtag #shootcamerasnotguns in photographs that you share on social media to help increase awareness.

Additionally, when you feel compelled to do more, do it! Those quiet inner callings are the voice behind the greatest feats of humanity. When you’re beckoned by them, listen and act.

Check Out These Resources & Get Involved:

If you want to gain further understanding of the nature of photographic therapy or take action on a larger scale, here are some helpful resources to get you started: 

  • – self-initiated, photo-based activities involved in the practice of therapeutic photography as well as an interactive map for people currently participating.
  • Photo Voice – utilizes innovative, participatory photography and digital storytelling methods to build skills within disadvantaged and marginalized communities.
  • Youth in Focus – empowers urban youth through photography to experience their world in new ways and to make positive choices in their lives.
  • Shoot Cameras Not Guns – Denver-based non-profit teaching photography as a tool for social change and empowerment.
  • – 11 facts about arts in education and how you can get involved.
  • American Art Therapy Association – US organization providing standards of professional competence, and developing and promoting knowledge in, and of, the field of art therapy.
  • – create, sign, and share petitions for global change.
  • We the People – petition the White House on issues that matter to you.
  • Register to Vote – resources for registering to vote in any state in the US.

#orlandounited via @illumaglass


Connie Horner, Illuma Studios LLC, CEO & Founder


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