Over the course of the past year, I have been thinking about this project and the idea just won't go away. Whenever that happens to me, I usually take it as a sign that I need to do something with the idea.
I have hesitated to take on the topic of suicide for several reasons, but I'm finally moving forward with my idea. Suicide is a topic that is very close to my heart for a couple of reasons and I know this is the time for me to use my passion for story telling through photography to tackle this issue.
I have been actively planning this project since about February or March of this year by making contacts, etc. I even met with the local Suicide Survivors group back in May and had three people sign up for the project. Since returning from Brazil, I have worked to make more contacts and I recently had two more to sign up. Additionally, I just made another couple of contacts today that will hopefully lead to more participants for my project. However, I have a minimum number of people I need to participate and I haven't met that goal yet.
The project involves photographing and interviewing family members of those who have completed suicide. I have come to understand that the term "committed suicide" is not used by many who have lost loved ones. Rather, many prefer to use the term "completed suicide". Anyway, The portraits will be of the family members who have lost loved ones, but I plan to collaborate with them to "construct" an image that allows them to represent their loved one in a way that they choose. Those who have completed suicide may be represented in the portrait in a number of ways. In addition to making portraits, I also plan to interview the family members and use clips from the recorded interviews in the final presentation. I have a couple ideas of how to do this, but I'm still working through it since it might require some technical experience that I don't have. ;)
Do you know of someone who would be interested in participating in my project? At this point, I will only be able to photograph people in Montana or areas to which I can drive within a day. If you need more information for anyone you might contact, let me know by sending me a message and I can give you a copy of the letter I have sent out. You can also direct them to my website if they want to check out some of my previous work (www.lesliemcdaniel.com).
Please let me know if you are interested in participating, or if you know someone I could contact. I really think this project could have far-reaching impact and many I've spoken with about the project are excited and even consider that it could be potentially therapeutic for those who are involved. Only time will tell the results of the project, but for now, I'm content to just move forward with the work one day at a time.
Thanks so much for reading,