When photographer Trent Bell discovered that his friend–educated, employed, married, and a father of four–was sentenced to thirty-six years in prison, he was extremely distraught and, haunted by this terrible reality, he was inspired to create this powerful photo series entitled Reflect: Convicts’ letters to their younger selves.
The captivating portraits offer a rare glimpse into the minds of convicts who will spend much of their adult lives behind bars. Bell and digital retoucher Timothy Holt spent the day at a Maine State prison photographing individual inmates who were also offered the opportunity to write a letter to a younger version of himself. Holt then worked extensively in post-production to transfer the words of each letter into a perfect silhouette around each compelling portrait. In addition to the large, still photographs, live interviews with the inmates were also documented in a powerful video.
Bell says, “It was very emotional, very enlightening, to be in that situation and talk to those guys. You had time to stop and think about your own life and appreciate where you are at. They are all pretty much normal guys who made some bad decisions. It’s quite a bit of an awakening that we are all capable of what those guys have done.”
A behind-the-scenes clip about how the project was made can be seen in the video below.