Scott Shillum, co-founder of The Photography Movement which helps people express their feelings and emotions around mental health through the medium of photography, has launched a new initiative called Lend an Ear.
Through his good friend Lee Martin, Scott was introduced to Ben Bowers at The Harlequins Foundation in the Autumn of 2021 to present the ‘Lend an Ear’ idea concept focussing on powerful black and white imagery of rugby players’ ears. The idea was extremely well received and working with long time Photography Movement collaborator and renowned photographer Charlie Clift, it has now come to fruition with portraits of 10 Harlequins players including Joe Marler, Danny Care, Marcus Smith and head coach Tabai Matson fronting the campaign.
Scott told PAN: “All of our work revolves around the use of photography to spark conversation around mental health and well-being, and we firmly believe that the Lend an Ear campaign will make a positive difference. When we launched the campaign at a recent Harlequins home game I was touched by how many people spoke to me about how much they loved the idea and the message behind it.
“It’s great to be working with Harlequins on this, and it has the potential to go much further. Sport is a real connector, and we mere mortals have a special connection with our sporting heroes. They have the ability to reach millions of people. In Cristiano Ronaldo’s case, 485 million Instagram followers!!! I wonder if he could lend us his ear?”
England and Quins rugby legend Joe Marler has been very honest and open about his mental health struggles which is an incredibly brave thing to do when your day job is to shred the opposition with physicality on the rugby pitch. Joe also has some fantastically gnarly ears because of his years at the coalface of a professional rugby scrum. Unbeknown to Joe at the time, he was the spark of an idea that popped into Scott’s head one day that was the notion of using rugby players ears to help people talk and, equally importantly, listen out for the signs that someone might be struggling.
www.lendanear.club is where the campaign and listening toolkit lives.
Above: Scott speaking to highlight Lend an Ear and the Photography Movement at the UK Picture Editors’ Guild Awards.
Scott Shillum, The Photography Movement co-founder, is a former national newspaper picture editor having worked on The European and Sunday Business newspapers through the 90s. A lifelong rugby fan, he has experienced the highs and lows of following international rugby over the years. The highest of highs was in 2013 when Scott witnessed the stunning British and Irish Lions tour victory over Australia in Sydney having travelled there with his identical twin brother Dan for the trip of a lifetime.
Sadly in 2015 Dan took his life whilst suffering from depression, an illness that Scott also has lived experience of.
In 2016 Scott co-founded The Photography Movement with his best buddy Steve Wallington. Having worked in and around photography all of their adult lives, they both saw the power of medium as a conduit to empower conversation around mental health and wellbeing.
The taboo and stigma around poor mental health can start to be broken down when influential people who are respected and looked up to are able to discuss the topic openly. Rugby players especially are seen to be powerful, hard, invincible individuals but they are human beings and experience the highs and lows of mental health like all of us.
Learn more about The Photography Movement.
• PhotoArchiveNews.com is Media Partner to the UK Picture Editors’ Guild Awards – read our coverage here.