Growing up, I observed the way people reacted to addiction. I learned very young the truth that no one is all good or all bad. I had to see and understand that even the woman that was, by nature, my first love was capable of hurting herself and others - as we all are. Did this make her a bad person? Absolutely not. Did the world tell me otherwise? It seemed so. As a boy, it was confusing to see both sides of a human so starkly. The days of detox and all that entails, contrasted by our many conversations of love, grace, and hope. I came to the conclusion that everyone had a place inside them spared from their vices. Like a pocket of light lost in the dark. You just had to dig deep enough to find it.
I was very close with my Mom up until the day she died when I was 21. Her loving spirit shaped me, her courage challenged me, and her voice for justice infected me. She showed me that there is story behind everything and everyone. When she died, my world lost its color and I saw people around me for who they truly were. No more would I participate in mediocre love and a settled life. I began to live in such a way that honored people’s stories by listening, acknowledging, and trying my best to understand. I had to start telling people's stories, giving them a place to speak and be heard.
After four years of weddings and portrait sessions, I have switched my focus to creating photo documentaries. At 23, I feel incredibly behind with all the stories that have immersed this world. It’s time to get to work. If you (or someone you know) have a story you want told, I would love to hear from you. In this season, I am only shooting black and white but am willing to make exceptions on a case-by-case basis. I am always willing to hear out a proposal!
Matthew W. Kennelly