*By Madison Alworth* Photographer Eric Edward Schell turned what was originally meant to be a one-day event organized on Facebook into an ever-expanding community and nonprofit organization celebrating pride. And he drew his inspiration from the mass shooting at Orlando's Pulse nightclub two years ago. Schell told Cheddar he was angered by how his LGBTQIA+ peers were treated and the violence they faced for simply existing. So he organized an event to photograph community members where they could be visible and feel proud and confident of who they are. From that first Facebook event held in Houston on June 23, 2016, a non-profit called ["Pride Portraits"](https://www.prideportraits.org/) was born. "It was inspiring in a time of disparity," said Schell. "It is a wonderful way to celebrate who we are and give us humanization, visibility, and representation. Because if you reach people's hearts, then you can change minds." To date, Pride Portraits has captured over 3,000 pictures of LGBTQIA+ people and their allies all over the country. Celebrities and activists like Candis Cayne, Alyssa Edwards, Nancy Pelosi, and Lance Bass have all been photographed by Schell. But for him, capturing the lives of everyday LGBTQIA+ individuals is the true point of pride. "It's been amazing," said Schell, "the amount of amazing people, underrepresented people, within the LGBTQIA community able to take part in Pride Portraits. Because creating a platform for those people is really what I wanted to do." Schell never charges for Pride Portraits and continues to participate in activist events and marches. The work, he said, is as rewarding as the outcome. "I've had trans women come to me and say this was the first time I was able to see myself as the beautiful woman that I am." For the full interview, [click here](https://cheddar.com/videos/using-photography-to-spread-pride).

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