“Finding Freedom” is a new art book collaborative project between Brandon Crockett, a community volunteer and advertising copywriter, and the renowned photographer Sandro Miller — yes, the same one that recreated iconic photos with John Malkovich. The book features poetry and portraits from residents at a Chicago halfway house — individuals who have recently left prison and are attempting to reintegrate with society.
Crockett has deep ties to the St. Leonards halfway house where this project was done. For the past seven years, he has taught a monthly poetry class, through which he has collected hundreds of handwritten poems.
Early last year, Crockett wrote to Miller asking the photographer if he was willing to photograph the residents of the house. Miller enthusiastically agreed, and for the next 12 months, the duo held five separate photo shoots that resulted in 65 portraits.
Here’s Crockett’s portrait and poem:
The project had a great impact on Miller. “Several times I was moved to tears as in front of my camera sat a person, with heart, feelings and an undeniable need for understanding,” he says. “As I read their poems, often I wept. I wanted to save them, hold them and listen to them. Instead they saved me with their words of life, broken dreams, new dreams, uplifting dreams and dreams of a new beginning.”
Crockett hopes this photo book will spark conversation about keeping low-level offenders away from jail and in programs like the one St. Leonard’s Ministries offers.
Crockett has launched a 30-day Kickstarter campaign in order to raise funds for launching the book.
A contribution of $25 will secure a copy of the eBook, and a pledge of $60-$70 will preorder a hardcopy. The money raised will be used for production costs, and any additional funds will be donated to St. Leonards.
Image credits: Photographs by Sandro Miller/Finding Freedom and used with permission