Accompanied by a Nikon D810, Megan Ghiroli uses her images to emphasize the humanity of all. By day, the 37-year-old South Brooklyn based photographer is a researcher for Columbia University, evaluating programs designed to assist people with the transition process after coming home from prison or jail.
Her solo show, “COMING HOME”, debuted on May 14 in New York City. The exhibition features fourteen stories of people discussing their lives during and after incarceration - each portrait is accompanied by a short audio narrative. Here are three stories:
George is a force to be reckoned with. He speaks like a preacher, every word loaded with passion and deliberation, and he is always the first to reveal his emotions and show you just how genuinely and deeply he feels.
So when George said he wanted to tell a story about visiting his mother on her deathbed while in shackles, I knew it was going to be powerful. As he described: “I received a letter from my brother and he said ‘George, you need to start preparing yourself. Mom is sick and they don’t expect her to make it very long.’ At that very moment my whole world was shaking, a panic and a fear came over me like nothing I had ever experienced before because my mother is and was my whole entire world.”
When I met Dino, I was immediately drawn to his smile and kind eyes. He’s such a gentle soul. I would see him around, and we would smile and wave and say hello; we were friendly faces for each other from the start.
When I first conceptualized COMING HOME, I knew I wanted to get Dino involved. You just see his face and think: What could that face have ever done? If I wanted my work for this show to de-stigmatize incarceration, really work to break down the barriers between the safe “us” outside and dangerous “them” inside, I needed that smile and those eyes.
Dino's story is one of empowerment and personal growth. He went to jail for the second time with a plan to change his life and has followed through beautifully. In his own words: “I had it planned out in my head, I knew I was going in and use what jail had to offer, right from the police car, right from being locked up. The first time helped me understand how much there was available and so the second time was like, okay, now I know that I know what this place has to give and what I can do with it, I’m really going to do it.”
David’s got this gravely voice and intense face with big green eyes that really stand out. I met him almost a year ago, and we had a great rapport from the start – he’d always stop me in the halls to tell me my eyes were pretty or swing by my office to say hi. I liked feeling like an extra supportive person for him, and his smiling face always cheered me up at the office.
David reflects on the difficulty on being in jail: "It's not good to be locked up, freedom is very important…it's easy to get locked up but it's hard to come out."