Dahli Durley is an Asian American portrait photographer focused on documenting “beautiful faces in wondrous places.” Her work chronicles the interdependence of a person in a place, with both entities playing off each other in telling their story. Though she’s based Minneapolis and lives downtown, her photographic repertoire spans across the United States and around the world. Both her work and process are based in holding “safe space” for subjects to be fully and honestly themselves. Her role is capturing a narrative of people through still imagery and allowing their being/essence to play out in front of the lens. Her command of illumination and shadows from natural light to strobe lighting defines a sense of place.
Durley is shining the spotlight on one very important health care worker for her passion and commitment to our community throughout the COVID pandemic. The pandemic has placed a heavy weight of responsibility upon our health care workers. They are continually fighting for our lives at the cost of their own by not only being continually exposed to COVID, but also dealing with the mental and emotional toll COVID brings. Health care workers have been disproportionately affected by suicides and mental health issues during the pandemic, not only from the stress of their jobs and their personal lives but also from fears over losing licensure for seeking help. At our own doorstep in downtown Minneapolis, we have lost both Gretchen Wenner Butler, MD, a radiologist at the downtown Hennepin County Medical Center; and Hennepin EMS paramedic Karl Meek, both who tragically died by suicide this year.
Our health care workers fight for us downtown, but who is fighting for them and for us? The answer is Dr. Kellie Lease Stecher. Kellie fights for health protections for medical professionals through Minnesota Mental Health Advocates and lobbies for legislative changes to bills protecting doctors in Minnesota seeking mental health care. She is also the founder/co-president of Patient Care Heroes, a website memorializing stories of health care workers who have died while fighting against COVID-19. In photographing Kellie, we support the well-being of our downtown health care workers and truly promote mental health for all.