On Sunday, October 8, 2017, during severe red-flag warning conditions, a series of wildfires broke out across Sonoma and Napa counties, ultimately burning over 160,000 acres, claiming 31 lives, and destroying over 7,800 structures before being fully extinguished on October 31st.
It was a devastating blow to our community.
As the dust settled, and the acute needs were less pronounced, I began doing the only thing I felt like I had to offer: photographing friends, and friends of friends in the fire zone where their homes used to be with the hope that it would give them a place to start the rebuilding process.
And so I went and met each family, photographing them on black and white film only, with the intention of coming back a year later to photograph them all again, this time in color, as a tribute to how far they’ve come. At the time, my intention for the work was to keep it entirely private, but after seeing the body of work and being encouraged to share these stories, I knew they had to be told.
When I look at these portraits and talk to these families, I am reminded of Kintsugi, a Japanese art form where broken ceramics are mended by gold. The belief is that the object is more beautiful for having been broken. Stronger too. And that the cracks are a tribute to it’s history.
This project is my way of attempting to put gold in the cracks of our community and to honor these families and their unwavering resolve to remain unbroken.
I have been trusted by every person I photographed, to be the keeper of their stories. As that keeper, and as someone who hopes to preserve this unique piece of history in a beautiful way, I am asking you for your help in keeping them alive. So that we can all remember, who we are, why we’re here, and that we are all stronger in our broken places.
Our goal is to raise $30,000 by the first anniversary of the fire, on October 8th, 2018, which will make it possible to film a digital short during the one year anniversary photoshoots that will then be used to promote and raise additional funds needed to produce a full-length feature documentary and action campaign aimed to help first responders, relief, and rebuilding efforts.
Recovery is a marathon, not a sprint... so thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being a part of our healing.
View more photos here: https://www.lauraschneiderphoto.com/kintsugi-forged-in-fire/
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