Young photographer telling Australia's most powerful stories

On the shoot for Silver Linings, a photographic journey of 12 women who have overcome significant battles throughout their lives. Grace Arach, who escaped a life as a child soldier in Uganda.
On the shoot for Silver Linings, a photographic journey of 12 women who have overcome significant battles throughout their lives. Grace Arach, who escaped a life as a child soldier in Uganda. Contributed

CALIN Darling's inspiration came from her darkest moments, and now she hopes her efforts will inspire others.

It has been nearly three years since the 23-year-old Buderim woman tried to take her own life.

The next morning, she woke with a concept: Silver Linings, a photographic book telling the stories of 12 Australian women who overcame significant battles, from incurable diseases to mental illness.

After nearly three years, she has amassed support from 97 companies for the photo shoots, costumes, hair, make-up, book design, biographies and editing.

The final hurdle for the project is raising the $125,000 required to print 10,000 copies of the book and distribute them to waiting rooms in every public hospital in Australia.

Each woman is dressed in a bird-themed gown, reflecting their rise above their suffering.

Miss Darling matched their personality and their story to their outfit.


"We talked about their story and their life, and around there I picked the colour I felt best represented the woman," she said.

"If we had a yellow dress, it was the concept of soft, pure and very innocent."

Miss Darling took the images over three photo shoots at Maroochydore studios, playing music to help the women feel at ease in front of the camera.

"I just had help from friends and family behind me, and they were cracking up jokes to the models, pulling funny faces," she said.

The shoot for World Vision ambassador Grace Arach was very different.

Miss Darling described Ms Arach's photograph as "powerful".

"We asked everyone else to leave, because we wanted the real quietness of just two or three people in there," she said.

Grace Arach was born in Uganda and forced to become a child soldier in Lord's Resistance Army, led by warlord Joseph Kony, enduring years of cruelty and abuse before she was rescued and brought to Australia.

The project has snowballed since 2015, even attracting an endorsement from actor Geoffrey Rush, but Miss Darling said she faced constant rejection during the first six months.

"I don't think they really trusted my youth," she said.

"If I look back at it now... I don't know why I kept going. If you failed for six months, why would you keep going?

"I think I didn't have anything else left in me, so I think this was the only thing that I saw purpose or hope for."

Her press release finally landed on the desk of a magazine editor and publicist, who told her the project would "go far".

It was the first time an outsider had told her the idea had merit.

"It gave me real drive to finish the project," Miss Darling said.

Despite the support, no sponsors have yet offered funds towards printing costs, and Miss Darling has turned to crowd funding to see the project completed.

"I'm hoping that we raise the funds at least before the new year dawns," she said.

To donate, visit or find the project website at

Topics:  book hospital photographer photography women

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