Blake Loates picked up a camera 18 years ago and it saved her life. Diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder at the age of 20, her camera became a tool for mindfulness, allowing her to achieve solace from the suffering of a debilitating mental illness. For the first time ever, Blake was able to escape the confines of her mind and engage in the world around her...and she was hooked. Blake dreamed of one day taking portraits of individuals struggling with mental illness with the hope of casting light into the shadows of mental illness. 15 years later, after the death of her hero Robin Williams, Blake set out to fulfill her life long dream. Her project, called We All Believe in You, has given her the privilege of photographing and interviewing close to 200 people. We All Believe in You has since become more than a portrait series. It is a national level peer support non-profit organization that provides support, love and hope to individuals who are struggling with mental illness.
Blake has combined her love of photography, her passion for reducing stigma, and her former career as a psychiatric nurse to become a mental health educator and advocate. Blake has received numerous local and national awards for her advocacy work including being recognized as one of the top 25 contributors to human rights and justice in the province of Alberta. In 2018, Blake was selected as Canada’s only recipient of the inaugural Facebook Community Leadership Program, a global initiative created to support people making a change in the world with funding and leadership training.
Blake is also a wedding photographer that has photographed over 150 weddings. And when she’s not doing photography and using her camera to rid the world of stigma, she’s a peer support worker for the local health authority in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
To take care of her own mental health Blake loves walking the loves of her life, her two dogs Maggie and Murphy, riding bikes, and showing people with mental illness their power and resilience.