Recently, photographer Megan Bezemek looked through her lens to create a photo essay with an anti-bullying message for an online program called THINK TWICE.
“Basically what the program is, is local girls and boys, women and men, telling their stories about how they were bullied, or were the bully,” she says. “A lot of the stories that you can read on their Facebook page hit home.” (See https://www.facebook.com/ thinktwiceproject ) Bezemek, 19, is currrently attending Traverse City Beauty College to obtain a cosmetology license in 2014. Initially, she was asked to do makeup for the THINK TWICE site, which was created by model Nikki Martell and Randy Meyers, owner of Afrnt apparel.
Teens on the site appear with black electrical tape criss-crossing their faces with the message “Think Twice” about what you say about others.
“In the second shooting I did makeup and was also asked to be in the pictures, which meant I had to share my story,” Bezemek says. “Before all this happened, I was bullied for years. A lot of people could tell you before my story went out they had no idea the life I was living in because I was ‘very good at hiding it.’ Which I was.
“Writing my story to Randy was probably the hardest thing I have done, she adds, “because before this only two people knew my whole story and what I was going through, but I wanted to help people going through the same things as me, which is why I took part in this.”
After sharing her experience on the site (see sidebar) and receiving positive feedback from friends, Bezemek decided to take her photo skills a step further and create an essay that shows two sides to her friends.
“Bullying is a big issue, but to me bullying starts with judging. And I’m sure everyone has heard ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover.’ But when you look around, that’s all people do, is judge other people. With or without knowing them. Which then turns into bullying.
“So what I did was take a group of girls that are friends of mine and asked them to do a photo shoot of two different sides of a person. None of the ‘characters’ the girls are playing are who they really are. I just gave them a role and asked them to get a wardrobe together and show up playing that part.
When you look at the pictures the girl you see is what other people see her as. And the girl in the mirror is ‘who she really is.’” A 2012 graduate of TC West Senior High, Bezemek used a Fuji S8200 camera for her essay, editing the photos with Adobe software. She also does photography and videos for local models. For more of her work, check out Facebook.com/StylesbyMegan-Photography.