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An Honest Conversation About Debt in America

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“Debt is publicly enforced and highly stigmatized, but is almost always privately experienced.”

After filing for bankruptcy herself, photographer Brittany M. Powell is traveling across America to interview other people struggling with unexpected debt. I love this multifaceted, non-judgmental project (originally on Kickstarter — now closed after a successful end).

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Through the camera, Powell is starting a conversation about debt—something many people experience alone but never talk about because of the shame and stigma that can be attached to it. How does debt effect us and our daily lives? Are people as alone in this struggle as much as they feel?

Debt Portrait #28, Detroit, MI 2014
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Debt Portrait #14, Harlem, NY 2013
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Debt Portrait #16, Brooklyn, NY 2013
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When asked in an interview what she thinks we can do to change the way we view debt in our society, Powell answered:

“First, talk about it. Consider how the debt and credit system works. Don’t be ashamed if you owe creditors money and can’t pay them back.

It’s also important to stay organized. Most people don’t know that once in default, their debts are sold on a secondary market for much less than they owe, so settling should be an option. Strike Debt is a movement that includes organizing a Debt Collective to give debtors a way to organize in order to build power against their creditors.”

Debt Portrait #31, Detroit, MI 2014
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Debt Portrait #22, Portland, OR 2014
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Debt Story #18, Portland, OR 2014
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Debt Portrait #19, Portland, OR 2014
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See more Debt Portraits at The Debt Project
Hat Tip: Feature Shoot

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