Photographer Asks Strangers What They Wanted to Say But Never Did

For the past year and a half, photographer Geloy Concepcion has been working on a project titled “Things You Wanted To Say But Never Did.” It consists of images featuring words strangers have wanted to communicate but have never done so with anyone.

“I started this project back in November 2019 to provide a safe place for the things we find hard to confront when we’re alone,” writes Concepcion, who’s based in the San Francisco Bay Area. “Things that we wanted to voice out but couldn’t, because we lack the courage to do so, because we might sound crazy, because it’s too late, or because we might hurt someone.

“We put it out here with the hope that someone going through the same thing will read them and feel less lonely even just for a day.”

The project is published through Concepcion’s Instagram account, which boasts 70,000 followers at the time of this writing. In each gallery post containing several submissions, Concepcion asks anyone interested in participating to send their submission through an online form.

In addition to words, Concepcion asks strangers for photos to go along with them.

“If you have any photographs (preferably shot on film 35mm) that you’ve always wanted to dispose or show,” Concepcion writes on the form, “photos that you think are not that beautiful or not that interesting, blurred, out of focus, accidentally shot, too over or under exposed, etc. Photographs with memories that you’ve always wanted to forget or let go or remember (No human faces visible), send them to me.”

Concepcion tells NPR’s The Picture Show that he started his project after moving to the SF area from the Philippines in 2018 and suddenly finding himself taking care of his daughter (while his wife worked at a local cafe) with very little time to satisfy his passion for photography.

The photographer then decided to turn inward, sharing his own “unsaid things” first before opening up the project to all his followers. Since then he has posted over 1,000 submissions of the 6,000+ he has received thus far.

“At first I was just using my photos, because the main purpose of the project was to just offload old photos,” Concepcion tells NPR. “But then I started to realize that the project had become more of the strangers’ project than mine, you know? I think they really own the project.”

#thingsyouwantedtosaybutneverdid is reminiscent of PostSecret, which was founded in 2005 and asked people to mail in their secrets anonymously on homemade postcards.

Concepcion is planning to add to the project until submissions stop coming in. You can follow along through @geloyconcepcion on Instagram.