It was in the early part of 2013 when Trent Bell, a commercial photographer known for his architectural photos, received the shocking news that a friend of his had been sentenced to thirty-six years in prison for some trouble he got himself into.
His friend was a father, husband, and respected professional, and the closeness of this situation to Bell’s own life gave him a different perspective. It made him realize just how close we all are to making a decision that could forever impact our lives.
The situation would hit home most powerfully when Bell spent time with his own son. When his son would look up at him and smile as children so cheekily do, it would cement the cold reality of his friend’s situation in his mind. Ultimately, these gut-wrenching moments of realization lead to a concept for a photography project Bell wanted to undertake.
The project was to capture and print large, almost life-sized photographs of inmates from within Maine State Prison, have them write a letter to their younger selves and superimpose those handwritten letters as vignettes around the inmate.
The idea behind it being to display these images in a gallery for public viewing, in hopes that it brought a much more human element to individuals we often look at only as convicts living in a cell.