About The Project

About The Project

In 2012, after struggling with a significant loss of income from my photography business following the 2008 economic decline, my debt skyrocketed, and I made the difficult decision to file for bankruptcy.  This spurred my interest in investigating the role debt can play in our identity and how we relate to the world. Debt is publicly enforced and highly stigmatized, but is almost always privately experienced. It is in many ways an abstract form without material weight or structure, yet with heavy physicality and burden in a person’s everyday life. 

I began this project by asking subjects to sit for a formal portrait in their home, surrounded by their belongings, and answer a series of questions on camera about their debts.  I also asked them to handwrite the amount of debt they are in and the story behind it.  These “stories of debt” are displayed separately from the photographs as a group including all of the project participants.

My goal is to photograph 99 people across the US, in order to bring people together to re-contextualize an abstract, often shamed experience. It is my hope that by having a platform to discuss this issue, it will encourage the viewer and participants to question and reframe our perception of Debt and how we contribute to its power and role in our social structure.  

To follow or participate in this project please contact: brittany@brittanympowell.com

*All photographs copyright Brittany M. Powell, 2016.