Giving back: The Masked Portrait Project™

September 03, 2020 · 3 min read · By ASU Online
An ASU Online photography student focuses on providing COVID-19 relief.

"We have a chance to do something extraordinary. As we head out of this pandemic, we can change the world. Create a world of love. A world where we are kind to each other. A world where we are kind no matter what class, race, sexual orientation, religion or job we have.”

These words are the backbone of The Masked Portrait Project™, a photography fundraiser featuring Phoenix-area locals, businesses and ASU students wearing face masks. Founded by ASU Online digital photography major Emily Vance, the project brings photographers in the Valley together to spread compassion while helping to raise money for the Navajo Nation COVID-19 Relief Fund.

A woman and a child pose for a picture while wearing masks.

The Masked Portrait Project™

“With the current state of the world, I have been really struggling to figure out a way to give back to my community,” said Vance. “I have always tried to use my work as a way to help others, and lately, that just hasn't been happening.”

While discussing her concerns with friend and ASU alumni Paige Haagen, Vance learned about the Navajo Nation COVID-19 Relief Fund, and the pieces for her project started to fall into place.

“I am a major supporter of wearing masks to protect others, and I believe that doing so, even when it is hot and uncomfortable, is a way to show kindness, compassion and love,” said Vance. “By creating The Masked Portrait Project, my hope was to show that wearing a mask doesn't have to be sad or depressing. In fact, it really can be the opposite. Wearing a mask is one of the easiest ways to spread kindness, and that is something that should be highlighted and celebrated.”

If you’re local to Arizona, you can schedule a masked portrait project session with Vance. Proceeds from every session benefit the Navajo Nation COVID-19 Relief Fund.

If you’re a photographer and/or videographer located in the East Valley, you can contact Vance for opportunities to collaborate and volunteer. You can also connect with the community on Facebook and Instagram to help spread the kindness and compassion far and wide. If you live outside the Phoenix area and want to share your own work, use #TheMaskedPortraitProject so they can see and share your photos.


Support at ASU

Vance credits her support system — friends and mentors — to her time at ASU, along with the education that has made her career as a photographer a reality.

When asked what advice she has for future Sun Devils, Vance offers, “I say just go for it. Don't be afraid to get started and don't be afraid to ask for help.”

When it comes to support, ASU+ has you covered with resources from student success to time management assistance to well-being programs. Join the #ASUOnline conversation on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to maximize your experience and meet other students and alumni.

Visit The Masked Portrait Project's website for more information and to view photo galleries.


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