Before he's honored at this year's Philadelphia Lifesavers Gala, we caught up with society photographer HughE Dillon about why this event hits so close to home, and what it's like to be behind the camera.
HughE Dillon, or Philly Chit Chat as many simply know him as, is a discrete yet quintessential symbol in the City of Brotherly Love. Usually found behind the lens around some of the city’s most glamorous and charitable events, Dillon is now switching gears at this year's Philadelphia Lifesavers Gala hosted by the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, where he'll be honored for his accomplishments as a celebrity photographer, and his dedication to raising awareness for suicide and mental health on November 14.
Before the momentous evening, we chat with Dillon about why this foundation and cause means so much to him, and how he feels about photographing events.
What can people expect from this gala? HUGHE DILLON: The Lifesaver's Gala will be a really fun night with great food, friends and of course, dancing in the ballroom of the Loews Philadelphia [Hotel]. There will also be a small program and a fabulous silent auction.
You're being honored at the event this year. How does it feel to be in the spotlight for a charity when you're usually covering them? HD: It is very humbling to be honored for work that I truly believe in. Hopefully, in raising awareness for an important cause, we can save some lives together.
What is it like to be on the other side of the camera for these events? HD: It's awkward, I don't like it! I enjoy being behind the camera and capturing all of the great moments and beautiful people, but for this one night, I just might let someone [else] take my picture.
Why is the Foundation for American Suicide Prevention especially important to you? HD: Coming from a place of personal experience, I can really relate to people who are going through difficult times in their lives, who think that there is no way out. If sharing my story gives hope or saves even one person, then I feel it is my responsibility to speak out.
What's the most important part about raising awareness on suicide and/or mental health? HD: It's important to spread the word about suicide awareness and mental health because there is a stigma attached to this topic specifically, although so many people are affected by it both directly and indirectly. Shedding light on these issues will hopefully educate people so that they can recognize when people need their help.
How would you summarize Philadelphia's philanthropic community? HD: It's very impressive, Philadelphia's philanthropic community. Even through the recession, there were still many philanthropic endeavors, although they were scaled back. Now that our economy seems to be righting itself, it's a return to the days of high society and glamorous galas.