Inmates Write Letters To Their Past Selves In Spine-Chilling Portraits By Trent Bell
Imagine that you’re an educated professional with a spouse and four children – a successful person. Then you make one fatal mistake that you have to pay for with thirty-six years of imprisonment. And now try imagining the possibility of writing a letter to your past self, as if time travel was real and the letter could actually dramatically change the course of events.
The first part is what actually happened in early 2013 to a good friend of commercial photographer Trent Bell, who then got inspired to create his “Reflect Project” portrait series. He asked 12 courageous convicts in the Maine prison system to handwrite sincere letters to their younger selves before they were sentenced and took raw portraits of them with their letters in the background.
The shocking news about the destiny of a good friend made Bell rethink his own life and reconsider those fragile moments when things could have easily gone awry. “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.”
“Just know that people will always try and test you, and no matter what you think, only a real man can walk away.”
“If you think something might be a bad idea, believe it! Don’t do it.”
“Never lose the person you really are because it may be too late by the time you find yourself again.”
“You must be willing to forgive those that ask or deserve for forgiveness in order to be forgiven yourself.”
“I have spent most of my life behind bars and you are worth much more than that.”
“Life is far from over, Jamie. The mistakes we made in the past are the mistakes we will learn from.”
“We let drinking and drugs shatter our dreams and our potential future.”
“Be quick to smile, slow to anger, and treat all people with respect they deserve. That is how you will avoid becoming me.”
“Every decision you make affects everyone around you, most importantly your own future.”
“I believe in you, so many people do, you just have to believe in yourself.”