There is the teen mother who opens up about her previous sexual abuse and subsequent incarceration. A trans* woman stares into the camera with "I was born a man" written boldly across her chest. A young woman who drew arrows pointing to the visible scars on her arm. They are each part of photographer Steve Rosenfield's "What I Be" project, a powerful set of images that will stay with you long after you look away.
"What I Be" allows any viewer willing and courageous the chance to tell their story in both picture and print. Each photo is accompanied by a 500 words or less statement. "I started this project," Rosenfield explains, "in hopes to open up the lines of communication...It is to spread awareness about what people go through due to society's paved roads. These are serious issues that some of us can live with, but most battle on a day to day basis."
In addition to the short essays, a handful of participants also opted to record short videos explaining the journey behind their photographs. Hearing the harrowing tales on video adds an emotional and gripping layer to the project.
Rosenfield has traveled to prestigious universities like Princeton and Columbia to discuss the "What I Be" project and its cultural impact. You can see the collection here.