THE UPSIDE: Byron Bay photographer and businesswoman Kirra Pendergast started My Happiness Project.
THE UPSIDE: Byron Bay photographer and businesswoman Kirra Pendergast started My Happiness Project. Kirra Pendergast

Portraits capture thoughts of bliss

BYRON Bay photographer Kirra Pendergast's My Happiness Project celebrates the little things in life, serving as an inspiring reminder to take stock of what really matters.

The 43-year-old co-partner of Common Ground and eConcious Consulting left a high-paid corporate IT gig several years ago to focus on community-based work and has found joy in her latest project.

Based on simple black and white portraits with accompanying quotes, the project began about six weeks ago following a number of suicides among her peer group.

"I've lost a number of friends to suicide and I was talking to friends about starting a blog discussing how suicide affects people," she said.

"I thought the idea was a little negative, so I thought I'd start asking people what makes them happy instead. I found it amazing right away.

"I haven't had anyone say no and I found if I gave people a piece of paper and pen they'd write it down and you could see that made them happy doing it - like it was validating the point."

Interestingly, Ms Pendergast said material goods and money were never mentioned by those she photographed, while love and family were common themes.

"No one at all has said that money made them happy," she said.

"And none of the comments came from ego.

"One of my friends is a very serious business writer but what she said was like poetry. It's just been so interesting to see how different people respond.

"The project has made me happy and it gives them the chance to reflect on what makes them happy. I'd love to do it all the time if I could."

When asked what else made her happy, Ms Pendergast said her 17-year-old son and the "beautiful" Northern Rivers were top of the list.

The talented multi-tasking photographer has taken hundreds of black and white photos and has been gradually uploading them as time allows.

"I think the photos are so powerful and intense in black and white...it's all in the eyes," she said.

Ms Pendergast first used a camera at age nine and since she left school has dreamed of being a photojournalist.

To check out the project, search for My Happiness Project on Facebook.


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