Dropping out. Not saying "I love you" enough. Not listening. Not writing.
These are the deeds that fill people with remorse. Photographer Alecsandra Raluca Dragoi, born in Romania and now based in London, became fascinated with the simple yet torturous question: What is your greatest regret? Whether it is something someone has done, or more often not done, she wanted to highlight the depth of tragedy, nostalgia and even humor associated with the question.
In her aptly named project, "What is Your Biggest Regret?," Dragoi sought to provide a space for strangers to explore their pasts, and all the remorse that dwells there. By setting up photo shoots in public spaces like parks and shopping malls, she created a venue for individuals to vocalize their deepest worries and guilt, ranging from the playful ("Shagging Lee's mom") to the heartbreaking ("Not being with my father when he died 15 years ago").
The photographer, who is only 22 years old, found it important to gain the trust of her subjects, inviting many of them to open up for the very first time. Despite her youth, she displays a profound understanding of time, forgiveness, and the power of sharing what's so long been repressed. She insists that the project was inspired by the work of conceptual artist Gillian Wearing, a woman known for photographing anonymous strangers with compassion and introspection.
"I think that frequently when you share your thoughts with somebody, even if it is strange person, you release a black stain on the soul and you can feel free," Dragoi writes on her photography site.
Dragoi's series isn't confined to the portraits she's able to snap herself. Anyone can contribute to the ongoing project by taking a photograph like the ones above and below, presenting a paper with a regret he or she wishes to share with the world. Participants can send the image to the artist via a Facebook message. Dragoi references an anonymous quote as inspiration to those who wish to take part: “If we spend our time with regrets over yesterday, and worries over what might happen tomorrow, we have no today in which to live.”
Check out a preview of the series below.