Creating Happy Moments
Social Photography Project for Teenagers and Young Adults Sick and Recovering from Cancer
A while back Liam, Iris Shapira’s son, was dealing with cancer. He was 9 years old at the time. As a coping mechanism, her close friend, Michal Sela, a professional photographer, & Iris, a hobbyist photographer, came up with the idea of a mini project for Liam. What if in order to help him take his mind off of his predicament, we taught him how to take photos? Show him how photography can change his perspective on his current status.
He loved the idea and fully embraced. Iris & Michal then took it one step forward & used it as a tool to fulfill his dream after recovery. They held an exhibit of his work & sold many of his photos. A portion of the revenues was shared with other kids dealing with Cancer, empowering them in their healing journey.
Liam was so proud of being a giver & fulfilling his dream – he wanted to take his whole family for a long trip to the US and a cruise on the biggest luxury ship in the Caribbean. After recovering, his dream became reality.
In 2015, Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar, a world renowned expert in Happiness Studies, conducted research with the Make-A-Wish foundation, showing that children struggling with life-threatening illnesses benefit greatly—physically and psychologically—from making a wish and then journeying towards its fulfillment.
Dr. Ben-Shahar’s research coupled with Liam’s experience, inspired Michal and Iris to establish a social photography project for 13-23 year olds recovering from cancer. The program, which they called “Creating Happy Moments,” helps teenagers and young adults engage in something that they find meaningful and, by interacting with others who had been through similar experiences, alleviate some of the loneliness they often experience after their recovery.
They learn the basics of photography on theoretical and practical levels. Through the process of taking photos together, they learn how to change perspective on current situation, focus on the positive, happy moments in life— and thus helping them rebuild a stronger foundation of joy and confidence in life and in themselves.
Dr. Tal Ben Shahar is advising the “Creating Happy Moments” project, helping to integrate principles from the science of happiness.
Noa Leibovich, 22, lives in Ramat Gan
Recovered from cancer
CHM photography workshop took place during the Covid-19 quaranteen. It was a ray of light for me. Provided me with the opportunity to focus my attention on something enjoyable rather than the pandemic. I enjoyed to seize moments in time & improve my photography skills. View Noa’s Photos »
Michael Machiash, 14, lives in Kfar Yona
I always loved photography. CHM photography workshop “forced” me to get out of the house, to be in the nature, something that brings me joy & happiness. I learned not only to look, but to notice small details surrounding me. View Michael’s Photos »
Anibar Gilmore Peak, Grandmother of Michael
When CHM photography workshop began, Michael, my grandson, had just finished his Chemo treatments. I just came to say HELLO, give him a hug & leave, but I was captured & intrigued & I stayed.
This joint experience enabled us to observe life with a new point of view, develop awareness and see beauty in everything. Together we captured beautiful moments with our cameras, sharing them with one another. I got to know my grandson on a deeper level, see how he observes life & appreciate his wisdom. These were truly moments of happiness.
In the digital world, where there is a gap between the worlds of young & the older, photography was a bridge, a connection. It enabled us to create together, find & express our personal unique voice. View Anibar’s Photos »
Limor Zisman on behalf of Lihi Haddad, lives in Kfar Yona
CHM photography workshop revealed the world of photography. I look more closely at details, stop, take a photo & thus enjoy the current moment. I learned by receiving feedback from my class colleagues. View Lihi’s Photos »
Liam Cohen, 14.5, lives in Ramat-Hasharon
Was sick with Dicer-1 cancer
Between chemo & radiation therapies I used to go out and take photos, sometimes I couldn’t so I took them at home. I noticed that when I was shooting my thoughts were only directed to my action, therefore it gave me moments of joy among the hardship that I had experienced. I found that even in the simple and common things I can find beauty and joy. In the CHM workshop I learnt to look at things around me in different angels. I enjoyed the creative time with others who experienced the same hardships like mine. I got better in getting good compositions, using light creatively, seize the moment and feel happy while taking photos in a creative way. View Liam’s Photos »
Harel Beery, 13, lives in Azur
I accompanied my close friend, Tamar, through her recovery process. Photographing with Tamar created a shared language, language of photography through which we got to know each other better. CHM photography workshop revealed a new world of photography & opened my eyes to notice things in my environment I hadn’t paid attention to before. I enjoyed being creative with the camera & support my friend in her difficult time. View Harel’s Photos »
Hanna Shihade, 59, lives in Nahariya
I took CHM photography workshop with my son who is in the recovery process from cancer. It enabled me to share with him something he is passionate about, learn what makes him happy and see his points of view. It strengthened our father-son bond. View Hanna’s Photos »
Tamar Dekel, 13, lives in Nir-Zvi
Prior to my exposure to the world of photography, I spend hours in front of the screens. CHM photography workshop was a great opportunity for me to get away from the screen, go out & expose myself to things that caught my interest & that I wanted to photograph. It also helped me gain a new look on simple things surrounding us, look for the right light, learn how to photograph using reflections & more. View Tamar’s Photos »
Michelle Shehadeh, 24, lives in Nazereth
Sick twice with Leukemia
Photography helped me overcome my fear of leaving the house. It gave me the opportunity to get out, to the open air, meet people, learn how to look at the world from different angles & appreciate everything that surrounds me. This brought me much joy & happiness. View Michelle’s Photos »
Yehonatan Rachmanov, 13, lives in Ramla
Was sick with Histiocytosis
Photography helped me look at things from various angles searching for the best conditions for a good photo like light, composition & even more interesting – a new way to look at my cancer. When there is darkness, find the light. Build a composition, your life story, in a way that brings you happiness, joy & a good feeling. View Yehonatan’s Photos »
Agam P, 15, lives in Natanya
Recovered from cancer
When I take a photograph, I think how my object will look its best, how I position myself & if I need to move around objects to create a nice composition. The way I look at the world has changed since photography entered my life. View Agam’s Photos »
Tsipi, Mother of Agam
I am Agam’s Mom. The joint experience of photographing together brought me much happiness. It also provided me with tools that improved my photography skills & taught me to look at the world & at situations that life brings from different angles. View Tsipi’s Photos »