The Weapon of Choice was created by asking a simple question “What if the things we said left the same visuals as physical contact?”. Rich and his team invited participants to provide a word or select from a list of words. Once they had their word selected, they sat down in a make-up chair and professional make-up artists would apply the word in the form of a bruise. It’s a project to provide visual demonstrations of the power of verbal abuse, and it is meant to provoke a conversation about the problems of domestic violence, child abuse, and bullying.
The beauty of this project is that once we established the idea and set up the lighting, the project took on a life of it’s own. Every time I tried to take control of the project and suggest different words, the subjects would quickly let us know that “That’s not my word”. This sounds bad, but I truly believe if they would have let me I would have ruined the project. What makes a project like this work is the fact that it is genuine. It’s not just another opinion or commentary on what I think the issue is.
We chose the name “Weapon of Choice” for this project because, for the abuser, using words to harm is a choice. While listening to the stories from participants who had suffered abuse, we discovered how closely physical abuse followed verbal abuse. Where we found evidence of one, we found evidence of the other. When the abuser chose to inflict harm, verbal abuse was just one of the weapons in the arsenal.
My inspiration at first was to make a statement and shock people. Once 30 people showed up to speak up about this issue, my inspiration really became telling their story the best way I could. I would describe my style as cinematic story telling. As for other creatives that I look to for inspiration I would say I find my self inspired more by the unknown creatives than the typical “popular” ones. It seems like the undiscovered creatives have a hunger about them that pushes them daily. It’s that hunger that keeps them pushing their abilities and creating new things.
Ask your self why. The how and what are important, but if you are missing the why then you will never be satisfied with your work. Do it for the WHY!
Learn more about the project here.
*A verbal abuse awareness project by commercial photographer Rich Johnson of Spectacle Photo / Make up provided by: Bill McCoy, Tim Hays, Matt Sprunger and Jonah Levy / Production assistance provided by: Condido Verona / Location and facilities provided by Stage 1 Studios and Robert Tuscani Video, Douglas Howard from Pixel1080 / Creative and Production Assistance: Caleb Morgan
About Rich Johnson
Rich Johnson was born and raised in New Jersey. He’s currently living in Orlando Florida where he has a studio that produces commercial photography and video. See more of his works on Behance or his website.