A few days ago I stopped by the temporary memorial site for the victims of the Aurora Theater shooting, only to find that it had been taken down. We all knew it would eventually happen. With the weather taking its toll on the memorial, some of us wondered why it didn’t happen earlier. Still, it was a strange feeling seeing the empty plot of land after spending so much time photographing the site.
For a month I visited the memorial almost every day. My intention was to document the strength and caring spirit of Aurora; I didn’t want my community to be defined by the actions of a lunatic. The first few days I spent most of my time photographing people. But as time went on, I found myself photographing the objects being left at the memorial, and not the people who left them. I realized that these pictures were far more intimate than the pictures of people I had made during the first few days.
Although I have posted a few images from the initial days after the shooting, I avoided posting pictures of the objects left behind. The truth is, I even avoided looking at them. The memorial was very fluid, from day to day objects would move from one area of the site to another, people would sign pieces, sometimes add to them, and unfortunately pieces would disappear. So I wanted to approach each day fresh, as if I hadn’t photographed the site the day before.
Now that the memorial has been taken down, I feel as though I can start editing the photographs. I’m not exactly sure what I will do with them; my initial thought was to put them in a book. But what ever becomes of the photographs, my hope is that in some small way they can help the community.
© Jason Paul Roberts