Reflect: Prisoner

Convicts’ Letters to Their Younger Selves


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, Trent 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 Trent, “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…’”

Trent, founder and director of Vast Noodle Productions is also known for his architectural photography in publications such as the Conde Nast Traveler, Design New England, and The New York Times.  He soon devised 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.

Here at Vast Noodle we believe our bad choices can contain untold loss, remorse, and regret, but what we can learn from these bad choices might be immeasurable if we can face them, admit to them, learn from them, and find the strength to share them.

An artistic documentation of choices, consequences, and reflection.