Scott Typaldos – Butterflies

Scott Typaldos




To this day, I have extensively photographed the problematic of mental affliction in Ghana, Togo and Kosovo. My long term goal is to create a global project on mental illness and the great inequalities present in its therapies. Since my last trip to the western African region, I have also developed relationship with local associations in many eastern European countries (Serbia, Moldavia, Albania, Macedonia) attempting to improve the local treatment of mental sufferers. My photographs can serve in raising money for their actions.



I started my work on mental illness during spring 2011 by photographing the Accra Psychiatric Hospital’s conditions. I realized very quickly that Ghanaian hospitals enclosed only a small proportion of the mentally afflicted citizens. It’s only a few days later that I first heard of “prayers camps”.  Prayers camps are places of great human rights abuses. Most “patients” staying there are chained to trees or walls with short chains financed by their own families. It is a phenomenon occurring in many west African countries.

Since this trip, I have extended my research to Eastern Europe where the conditions are left somewhere in between West African and West European standards. In 2012, I photographed the Stime hospital which requires urgent attention as it has become unfunded through corruption and ethnic discrimination.

Solving the problem of mental patient’s treatment is not easy and one even western societies can sometimes struggle with. However, simple education through photography can raise awareness, fund raising and contribute to structural changes and medical development. Information can go a long way into making citizens suffering from mental disease more understandable and therefore more treatable for their societies.




Scott Typaldos was born in Lausanne, Switzerland in 1977. In 1998, while he was studying movie editing in film school, he discovered photography which soon overshadowed the rest. In his first years, Scott’s photography was centered around “diary” photography, a theme he still photographs to this day. During the Spring of 2007, he photographed the oil searchers of the Lambarn region in Gabon. This accidental documentary contributed to a change in the manner he photographed. Since 2010, he has been extensively photographing and researching the topic of mental illness throughout the world. He has won the Proof award grant in 2012, was selected for Foto Espana descubrimientos (2012) and won the 3rd place of the PGB Photo awards. He participated in Carnem’s workshop and 3rd exhibition in 2012-2013. In May of 2013, his work “Waxed in Black” about funeral rites in Ghana will be exhibited at the Head on Photo Festival in Sidney. He also is in the shortlist of EPF 2013.


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Scott Typaldos



12 Responses to “Scott Typaldos – Butterflies”

  • Beyond the high-minded words of the artist statement, this seems more exploitation than illumination. Does the photographer really think he is going to resolve any of this with photos? This horror story has been unfolding for years, been documented many times, yet is more prevalent than ever, it seems. He seems drawn to toward the darkness.

  • Sometime being a person who takes pictures is not enough especially when you are so far removed from your subject.

  • This is brutal to view, and very disturbing. Congratulations for being a finalist. Well deserved.

  • Poor Scott Typaldos – goes out, works hard, gets exceptional access, takes stunning photos that do indeed tell hard but true stories about real people and how they are being treated and then on Burn, where comments have become sparse these days, the first and for a time the only voices to speak up are those of Burn’s two resident naysayers.

    As Gordon says, this is brutal to view and very disturbing. Will it change the world and ease the plight of the folks so affected? Probably not. But it might add weight to previous documentation already out there and push the issue closer to the tipping point where action might begin to be taken. This is one contention Jim has often made that I do understand – someone or someones has already photographed and documented something, so there is no point in anyone doing further work on the subject. Typaldos’ essay has certainly brought a situation I seldom think of into a sharp kind of focus in my mind that it did not have before.

    It would seem someone is exploiting the mentally ill shown here. Who is it? The photographer who sheds light upon what is happening to them? Or someone or some force within the system that places them here?

    If there is distance between the photographer who is right there with them and his subjects, perhaps it is the distance that their circumstance and placement in life puts between them and everybody.

    I was a little extra disturbed by photo 8 and could not help but wonder if the person behind the woman was force-posing her for the photograph. I hope not. This would be terribly wrong and unconscionable and might make me think there is some truth in Jim’s observations.

  • Frostfrog Sure beats being a “like” button pusher.

    With most essays I don’t make comment on but when one appears and despite being a great subject and all we get is a bunch of pictures it really does a disservice to the people involved. It is a parade of the unfortunate

  • Imants, your comment brought such a big smile to my face I was sure wishing there was a “like” button attached to it so I could “push” it.

  • I just took another look at it and I will say that, indeed, in so many ways, it is “a parade of the unfortunate.” This does not mean we should turn our eyes away from this creation of society, but perhaps as he furthers this work, Scott might seek and show some answers as to what can be done to address this problem and find a way to make some photos to create more empathy for his subjects and make it clear that these “unfortunates” are part of us.

  • Marcus Bleasdale:

    “To get through to people you have to show individuals touched by the conflict. That’s how you engage people, how you shock them to maybe change their behavior. I want to repeat, though: It’s difficult for photographs to do this work on their own. You need an advocacy group to partner with who can knock on the doors of Congress and corporations. This advocacy work is as satisfying to me as taking a photograph.”

  • I should know better than to jump in here.
    A “parade of unfortunates”, absolutely. Better to look away.

  • Better to look away…. then go ahead and do what you do best

  • put those rose coloured glasses on

  • I’m not a frequent commentator, and I often feel contrarian–perhaps because I did not go to art school. But this essay, while certainly containing many powerful portraits, seems to me to be a triumph of style over substance. Dragging the shutter doesn’t make a photo more important, deliberately adding camera shake to architectural photos does not increase my understanding of the subject.

    I understand that there is the possibility that I am a hick who just rode into town on a truckload of pumpkins, but hicks get to look at photos, too,

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