The Loudest Silence – Ohio State Reformatory


Recently, I spent the day with a group of photographers at the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio.  It is most famous as being the backdrop for The Shawshank Redemption filmed in the early 1990’s.  It was an overwhelming experience to process the history, the beauty, the darkness and imagine what life must have been like for the thousands who occupied it over the years and those who never left.

In my opinion, the life we live comes down to three basic things.  First, what I call luck of the womb, where and when we are born and into what circumstances.  Second, the life that spins around us and the situations we end up in that we have absolutely no control over.  Third, choices and decisions we make or don’t make that chart the course for our walk through this world.


There are doors that we open, willingly, looking for a brighter future.



There are doors that are opened because of the choices we make or those choices we refuse to make that lead to places we never imagined.


But what happens when “flight or fight” just becomes “fight?”


Can punishment even begin to repay for the crimes of the soul and the pain caused to others?


Is forgiveness just the act of not being able to take the pain any longer?


Is remorse rebirth?  Is guilt the road to acceptance?  Or is it the justification of evil?


How does anyone find the light at the end of the tunnel when only darkness exists?


For many people in this world, when one door closes, the other that opens is far worse than the one before.


Regardless, the sun still shines, the world still spins, we continue to share time and space with vastly different outcomes and the echos of the past, they hang around.  Some places they hang around a bit longer than others and it is the loudest silence of all.










12 thoughts on “The Loudest Silence – Ohio State Reformatory

  1. Your words and photos shine a light on the part of our world that most of us can not understand or relate to. The birth lottery we have won prevents us from truly comprehending the desperation and dark choices some in this world experience. I love your photos. They are stark, gruesome, and yet sympathetic. What an amazing day you must have had! Kudos, friend!

  2. Wow Tiff. Great photos. Eerie. Scary. Lots of Stories within those walls. What an amazing experience that must have been to be there and to use your imagination to take photos. You have so many talent

  3. Your photos always make me feel I am right there with you experiencing it alongside you. And your words…well, I am always blessed by your thoughts and expressions. Thanks for sharing your gifts.

  4. Tiffany, I met you last year at Steve White’s class. I loved your photos then but really so enjoyed the words and message with this group of photos. I would so like to go to the Reformatory and try my hand. Keep up the great work. Thanks for sharing.

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