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Visual Hues Photography

Keys to Recovery

It seems some things are meant to align and when they do, good things come together. I met Karen, the Executive Director at Keys to Recovery, through Harold Pliszka – owner of Iron Lava and my cousin-in-law. When Harold joined the Board earlier this year he suggested that photography might be a way to communicate the story of some of K2R’s clients; and he asked me if I wanted to be a part of the project. I immediately jumped at the chance.

Keys to Recovery (K2R) is a Calgary based organization that provides intensive, collaborative case management services in conjunction with permanent, affordable housing to end homelessness for highly vulnerable adults who have completed addictions treatment. The vision of Keys to Recovery vision is to permanently end homelessness with dignity, compassion, and support for adults recovering from addictions.

I was intrigued by the organization and immediately connected with Karen when we spoke.  I knew this would be new terrain for me, but hearing the women’s stories of courage, resiliency and recovery I was nervous but excited to meet them. It was a challenge and an honour for me to communicate their story and their spirit, but also to protect their identity and their faces.

We met earlier this spring at their home and these two women welcomed me into their space and allowed me to take their picture. This was no short order, according to Karen.  As the minutes past, the hesitation started to recede and I could see how both women opened up to me … and by the end of the shoot, I was able to take portraits of each of the women to show them how their strength resonated in the camera. One of the women told me that she hadn’t wanted her photo taken for years, but in that same afternoon she told me that she looked at herself and could see her beauty. Each of the women have been able to share the portraits with their families and both wrote and explained how these photos helped restore some of their confidence and self-love … it was singlehandedly my proudest moment as a photographer. I’ve always believed in the power of imagery, but to know that photos can also heal and restore and to see it unfold … was magic.

I look forward to continuing my work with K2R and continuing to tell the stories of strength and determination of their clients.









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About the author

Amy Brathwaite:


  1. Joe Bingham June 13, 2013 Reply

    That necklace, that thing in your hand in that third black and white picture, is Calgary's jewellery; isn't it?

    • Janet Pliszka July 2, 2013 Reply

      Hi Joe. So sorry for the delay in answering your question. I'm not sure if it is from Rubaiyat or not, but it certainly may be!! Isn't it beautiful? Hope you are having a lovely summer!

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