Portraits of Trauma
This series did not begin with a focus on trauma. Rather, it was selected according to the
desires of the subjects, most of whom wanted to explore something we don’t often photograph
— certainly not in the moment.
This series depicts an event in each of the subjects’ lives that shaped them, and in this
selection, the events are traumatic: fading memory of a lost sibling, mental illness, crossing into
motherhood, Eric Garner who died uttering “I Can’t Breathe,” the emotional withdrawal of a
lover returned from war, and breakups. The portrait subjects are typically friends of the
photographer, most often artists and performers from the Durham area. The subjects work
collaboratively with the photographer, selecting the event or emotion to be portrayed, and
selecting colors that have meaning, wardrobe (or not), and props. The session begins with an interview. The photographer then establishes the set and lighting, and once shooting begins, the session flows almost uninterrupted for four hours. Most participants describe this as cathartic, being able to give visual voice to topics and experiences not generally welcomed in polite conversation.
A dozen subjects have participated in the series. A show can be made of multiple images from a few subjects, or few images of multiple subjects. Prints can be made in a variety of sizes to suit the setting. Images are probably best viewed in a quiet, reverential space.