Trent Bell REFLECT: convicts’ letters to their younger selves

01

Pork chop 44 years old in for: murder time in: 23 years time left: 4.5 years

02

Brandon 26 years old in for: attempted murder & elevated aggravated assault time in: 4 years time left: 13 years

03

Ken 50 years old time in: 8 years time left: 1 years

04

Pete 55 years old time in: 6 years time left: 4 years

05

Paco 46 years old in for: robbery & aggravated assault time in: almost all adult life time left: 7 years

06

James “Jamie” 42 years old in for: robbery time in: 2 years time left: 8 years

07

William “Wild Bill” 40 years old in for: burglary & theft time in: 10 years time left: 8 years

08

Red 28 years old in for: burglary time in: 22 months time left: 5 years 10 months

09

Bubber Jack 41 years old in for: trafficking drugs time in: 8 months time left: 3 years 4 months

10

Robert 67 years old in for: murder time in: 27 years time left: 9 years

 

In early 2013, commercial photographer Trent Bell was shocked by the news that a friend – an educated professional, a husband, and a father of four children – had been sentenced to thirty-six years in prison. Over the proceeding months, Bell found himself haunted by not only his friend’s bad decisions and loss of freedom, but also moments in his own life when things could have easily taken a bad turn. “There were times when my son would look up and smile at me,” recalls Bell, “and the finality of my friend’s situation would rush into my head and I would hear a cold thin voice say: ‘…there, but for the grace of God, go I…’” Bell, who is known for his architectural photography in publications such as the Conde Nast Traveler, Design New England, and The New York Times, soon conceived of a photo project that would merge large-scale portraits of inmates in the Maine prison system with handwritten letters the convicts composed as though writing to their younger selves. “Our bad choices can contain untold loss, remorse, and regret,” says Bell, “but the positive value of these bad choices might be immeasurable if we can face them, admit to them, learn from them and find the strength to share.”

 

All images © courtesy of Trent Bell

www.trentbell.com