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Photos with Feeling

Michele Gates uses art to connect with her community
Michele Gates turns her photographs into prints, bookmarks, and postcards.

For Michele Gates, photography is more than a hobby. She takes striking, detailed photos of nature, which has brought her peace and spurred her to create a simple message: You Matter.

Six years ago, Gates began using photography to cope with loss. In December 2014, her grandfather passed away from cancer. A year later, she got divorced. In 2016 and 2017, she lost her grandmother and an aunt.

“My grandparents raised me from the age of five after my mom died by suicide,” says Gates. “In 2017, my son graduated college and left the nest, and in 2018 my daughter left the nest. I was kind of left to figure out who the heck I was without all those titles.”

Sharing her self-taught hobby on social media let Gates connect with others in similar situations, and her following quickly grew. In 2018, she sold her first photo, a shot of the Ohio Riverfront in Newburgh, Indiana, which hangs in Deaconess Gateway Hospital. She also has work at Ascension St. Vincent Evansville Hospital.

Gates also turns her photographs into prints, bookmarks, and postcards. To spread her “You Matter” message to help those with mental illness and children affected by suicide, she published the children’s book “Mae the Courageous Caterpillar” in 2020 and founded the nonprofit Mae’s Way Foundation in 2021. She also facilitated a workshop about photography and grief at the Mount Saint Joseph Conference & Retreat Center west of Owensboro, Kentucky.

“No matter what is going on in my life or in the world, I always seem to be reminded of the beauty that still exists if we choose to see it and to find a sense of peace,” she says.

You Matter Find MLGates on Instagram @mlgatesphotography

Photos provided by MLGates.

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