Photographer Documenting Mother’s Mental Illness Wins TIME’s Instagram Photographer of the Year

Photographer Documenting Mother’s Mental Illness Wins TIME’s Instagram Photographer of the Year

At the age of seven, Melissa Spitz first visited her mother in an institution. It was the first of many trips that inspired her project documenting her mother’s mental illness — a project that has now won her TIME Magazine’s Instagram Photographer of the Year 2017.

Her project “You Have Nothing To Worry About” serves as a visual diary of the life of her mother Deborah who has, on multiple occasions, been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, depression, and bipolar disorder.

TIME says Spritz, 29, was awarded the accolade for her “distinct understanding of the platform’s storytelling potential, and her unique curation that has generated a community and conversation about mental illness.”

“Photographing Mom doing her make up.”

In the eight years since she began her venture, Spitz has taken more than 5,000 photographs, as well as 100 videos. The resulting collection is a plethora of fine art images, phone snaps, and photos from the archives of her childhood, leading to Spitz developing a skill that TIME describe as a “unique instinct for curating visual elements into an arresting narrative within the platform.”

What follows is a story that is frank, honest, and painting the true picture of caring for a loved one suffering poor mental health. Spitz tells Fstoppers that although there can be serious negatives to social media, it can also be “really pure.” As such, she isn’t afraid to lay bare her story, admitting in one Instagram post “I’ve seen mom hit rock bottom more times than I can count.”

“Mom looking beautiful.”

Read more of Spitz's touching story on TIME, where she talks in depth about the effects taking the photos had on her mother’s behavior. View more of the series below, and follow her progress on the official Instagram.

“The last photo my dad took where he says he remembers Mom being normal.”

“Mom smoking in bed. This is her comforter folded over, I always worry she will light her bed on fire.”

“I was shocked when I saw my mom like this one morning, I asked her what happened to her face, she told me ‘I fell down and broke my jaw.’”

Images used with permission of Melissa Spitz.

[via TIME]

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4 Comments

Pedro Pulido's picture

stunning work ! Worthy winner ! hat's off !

Douglas Turney's picture

Someone using social media for something other than "look at me" or "buy this". Nice to see someone using it in a different way and that is not saying social media shouldn't be used for self-promotion either.

David Hynes's picture

These are beautiful.

Matt Pluz's picture

Wow. Such powerful work.