Facing a Personal Tragedy

© Angeline Muñoz

© Angeline Muñoz

© Angeline Muñoz

© Angeline Muñoz

© Angeline Muñoz

© Angeline Muñoz

© Angeline Muñoz

© Angeline Muñoz

© Angeline Muñoz

© Angeline Muñoz

For her personal photo project when attending the eWorkshop I taught earlier this year, Angeline Muñoz found courage to face a trauma that had hit her family severely the year before. As she wrote on her blog her «daughter’s marriage was crumbling, and the man, who had promised ten years before to love her always, snapped and set fire to their home. The shell of the house remained intact; the interior was utter devastation». While contemplating what kind of theme she should pick for her personal photo project, she just one morning woke up knowing she had to go back to that house and make this her essay. The house was then being torn apart to begin reconstruction – and with some initial hesitation Angeline started to document the state of the house and the work being done. It was a very emotional encounter for Angeline and I can only say I was very impressed with her courage to face her own demons from that traumatic experience. It became a very personal project indeed, and not only was the result outstanding and very touching, but I think it even somewhat appeased Angeline’s own thoughts of that dark day last year. Her images of the house being demolished are soft spoken, but very intense. In all the sadness behind every photo, there is still beauty in the way she captured – and processed – the photo essay, which only enhances the sense of a tragedy behind the literal subject of those photos. Her images touch the viewer with their honesty and the way they directly speak to viewers. They speak of discernment and sincerity as well as of courage.

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About Otto von Münchow

Photographer based in Norway
This entry was posted in Photo Workshop, Photography, Photojournalism and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

101 Responses to Facing a Personal Tragedy

  1. John says:

    This is very sad. More I could say on the husband but…. The woman is very courageous to do this. Best wishes for the family’s future.

  2. icastel says:

    It takes a lot of courage and strength to overcome things like this. I’m glad she had both.

  3. That was most likely the best medicine she could have taken. Well done.

  4. elisa ruland says:

    Angeline’s images speak volumes, I feel for her and hope her photography helps her to heal.

  5. sheketechad says:

    An inspiring story, and person. Thank you for introducing both her, and and her work.

  6. cyardin says:

    Thanks Otto for sharing Angelina’s work. Have courage Angelina.

  7. theartmotel says:

    I have been following both of your blogs for a few years…This was / is such a courageous series. I hold fondness for this and for Angeline’s blog. This touched me so deeply on many levels but esp. in the realm of courage. Thank you both!!! Loretta

  8. powerful visual narrative…thanks for sharing.

  9. My Heartsong says:

    Courageous and a sign that the healing is taking place. The welcome mat photo is poignant.

  10. Angeline M says:

    Thank you Otto. And to everyone, The family is moving ahead, we all circled the wagons and have helped each other in the healing process. Going back to that house multiple times to take photos was indeed therapeutic for me.

  11. i am so sorry to read about the tragedy, as long ago i experienced my own scary moments. we’ve heard, ‘what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger,’ though sometimes we’re a bit too close to that reality.

    hoo-ray that angeline found the courage to return and stare those horrid memories eye to eye and say, ‘i’m not going to let you win..’

    the phoenix flies – no, she soars! z

    • I think that old saying is correct, but when in the middle of it one doesn’t feel like be able to come out on the other side, does one!? Thanks for a lovely feedback, Lisa.

  12. kalabalu says:

    Though he burned the wooden house
    Her heart was torn within
    flames engulfed and ruin the shelter
    He life was burned scattered as ashes
    She did not only clean the site
    But she tried to wipe out those traces
    Hatred washed away with love
    Cruelty with patience
    Rising spirits never face defeats
    It is only contemporary ..if you block their feet
    They jump hurdles of pain and torture
    Regain strength with self respect together
    Learn from her , how to live your life
    When it ends, it is time to restart.

  13. chrisrenney says:

    I hope this was a cathartic experience. So often we can be removed from the actual and so these shots are all the more powerful for the closeness Angeline had to the setting. Wonderful, sad shots. Thank you for posting them.

  14. Not only did it take a lot of courage to return, but these are beautiful shots despite the mixed feelings that Angeline must have experienced. I really like the idea of a photo essay. The series of photos says much more than the words alone ever could.

  15. niasunset says:

    Sorry to hear this tragic story, Thank you both, love, nia

  16. Reggie says:

    Angeline is very brave to have tackled such a personal story; often, it is so much easier to focus on happy photos, smiling faces, beautiful landscapes and bright colours… Mind you, they too have their place in a world where the media skims from one disaster, one war, one crisis to another, and we get overloaded by all the negative, depressing and disturbing images. But looking at this photo essay, and reading the story behind it, really touches the heart. May it bring profound healing to Angeline and her family.

  17. I so admire Angeline’s courage. The photo essay is heart rending.

  18. Suzanne says:

    What extraordinary courage – her photos are testament to her bravery in confronting her demons. Thanks for sharing this story. It is illuminating

  19. These images are saturated with expression. My very best to Angeline.

  20. suej says:

    Excellent images to illuminate a very courageous story…well done, Angeline. And I’m very pleased to hear the family is moving ahead…

  21. lighthouse75 says:

    Wow, Otto, that is absolutely amazing. Imagine having the courage to go back and do that. The image of the Welcome mat says it all. Prayers for Angeline.

  22. lauramacky says:

    I’m amazed at the courage people have. We all have stories inside, but to share them with everyone takes even more courage. Great post and the images really do tell a story.

  23. Dina says:

    This post made a deep impact on me. Angelina turned this tragic moment into a great photo story. All the best,
    Dina

  24. seabluelee says:

    How sad, and how brave.

  25. lumar1298 says:

    Wow… How sad… The pictures speak for themselves…

  26. granny1947 says:

    Incredibly touching.

  27. Patti Kuche says:

    The beauty and poignancy captured by Angeline in these stunning shots are both heartbreaking and so full of hope in the courage of return.

  28. Patrizia M. says:

    Le foto raccontano a chi le guarda, quanto grande è stata la tragedia vissuta da Angeline, e trasmettono tantissima tristezza. Veramente coraggiosa a tornare sul luogo per documentare lo scempio della casa, coraggiosa e nello stesso tempo molto brava, perché le foto non hanno bisogno di commento, parlano da sole!!!! Molto toccante. Un caro saluto per Angeline e per te.
    Patrizia

  29. rangewriter says:

    Having watched Angeline struggle with the emotional demons as well as the photographic technicalities that loomed during this project, I’m impressed by this great photo essay. The images are cohesive and gently tell a ghastly story that rings with irony and dashed dreams: the welcome mat, the toys, the motorcycle… Out of the ashes the phoenix will rise.

  30. Truels says:

    To engage in a project like this on a personal tragedy requires great courage. But it also provides the images with a whole different dimesion and strength of expression. I was very touched by these photos…

    • The strongest expression in art always comes from a strong personal engagement with the subject – whether it’s happiness or tragedy as in this case. Thanks for your comment, Truels.

  31. Angeline’s photo essay shows that the creative can be a coping mechanism for such life events. Her use of monochrome helps the viewer focus even more on the details of the drama. To be able to share such an experience demonstrates her resilience and strength under the stress of such experiences.

  32. YellowCable says:

    The pictures show her strength for capturing such memory while most of us want to record happy moments and hoping them to last. The pictures have deeper impact to her than any viewers… Great work and thumbs up to her.

  33. Paula says:

    The images speak for themselves – great courage and talent! I wish Angeline and her family some brighter days.

  34. It is really amazing! To have the strength to capture these images is very remarkable. I wish her all the the best. Thank you for sharing her images and story.

  35. PC PHOTO says:

    I see the compassion for the horror and loss her family endured. This was a most difficult situation to revisit hopefully she will begin the deep healing needed for her life.

  36. Louis says:

    These are strong images and are enhanced further by the background context you have provided. A moving post.

  37. Lisa Gordon says:

    A wonderful series of images, and a VERY courageous woman.
    Thank you for sharing here, Otto.

  38. Bill Benzon says:

    These images are eloquent testimony to the power and appropriateness of monochrome imagery.

  39. themofman says:

    A powerful photo essay.

    What happened to the son in-law? Was he convicted of arson? What was his excuse for burning down the house?

  40. Dalo 2013 says:

    Incredibly fascinating images…the story makes them even more powerful and tragic. Tough but incredible shots, and the B&W creates contrast not only with the shots but with emotions as well.

  41. I give her a lot of credit. I hope she got healing from documenting her experience. There’s definitely beauty in the disaster, and hopefully that will be true for Angeline too.

  42. very, very powerful images. the photographer harnessed beauty from ashes.

  43. Phillip says:

    So sad. How can some people be so cruel? I feel for her. Thanks Angeline, may God continue to give you strength.

  44. soonie2 says:

    A very courageous woman indeed and such powerful, emotional images. I think there must be something very cathartic about returning to a disaster scene such as this…kind of like facing your demons.

  45. The third photo in absolutely blows me away. A powerful photographic essay of a tragic event. It’s raw, and I appreciate Angeline’s willingness to share that.

  46. Powerful and honest. Thanks to both of you for sharing this inspiring work.

  47. This project must have been very cathartic for Angeline. I’m sure that it did give her some closure.
    She left us with a sad but lovely documentation of her story.

  48. seekraz says:

    Your narrative was as compelling as the photos, Otto…a stirring tribute to the photographer’s strength and resilience. My compliments to both of you.

  49. Andrew says:

    That first photo with the welcome mat is particularly ironic, under the circumstances in which it was taken. A very brave act by Angeline to undertake this project. All the best to her for the future.

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