Looking Inside: Portraits of Women Serving Life Sentences

“For this series of portraits, taken at Bedford Hills and Taconic Correctional Facilities, [Bennett] wanted to go deeper inside of the prison…. The women she photographed — sometimes just for five minutes, sometimes for half an hour — were ‘some of the deepest-thinking people I’ve ever met in my life,’ she said. ‘They’ve come from poverty, often drug abuse, physical abuse. They come to prison, and it’s sometimes the first safe environment they’ve had, and you see how people just blossom. It’s such a loss to society. That’s the thing I feel the most.’” Our Crimes Are Now Who We Are, The New York Times, Album, June 9, 2019

Looking Inside offers a powerful portrait of the US criminal justice system today. This emotional collection is currently on view at this year’s Photoville festival in New York City.” Here’s What It’s Like for Women To Serve Life in Prison,” BuzzFeed News, September 12, 2019

BuzzFeed News, “9 Photo Stories that Will Challenge Your View of the World,” September 14, 2019

Popular Photography, “The Best Things to See at Photoville 2019,” September 19, 2019

One of four exhibits highlighted in Bklyner, September 16, 2019, “Photoville 2019: Festival Features Work by More Than 600 Photographers”

The Phoblographer, “Photoville 2019 Was More than Just Pretty Pictures,” September 22, 2019. “[Sara Bennett’s Looking Inside provides] a unique and essential window into the ramifications of imprisoning human beings for life.”

Life After Life In Prison: The Bedroom Project

"Bennett is a former criminal defense attorney who *** uses photography to amplify her observations of the criminal justice system.... Bennett has created a space for each of [her portrait subjects] to reflect upon their post-release situation. They regale personal tales and they are photographed in their most personal spaces–their bedrooms.”  After Decades in Prison, Women Pose for Portraits in Their Own Rooms and Reflect, Pete Brook, Medium (Editors’ Pick) March 11, 2018

“With a humanist eye and a sensitivity to detail, Bennett shares stories rarely told anywhere: the struggles of the dispossessed and marginalized who carry the weight of redemption on their own shoulders.” An Intimate Portrait of Life After Life in Prison, Feature Shoot, October 16, 2018.

All [the women] express a profound connection to their bedrooms as a safe, private, personal space, which is something we can take for granted if our freedom has never been challenged.” 7 Photo Stories Will Help You See The World A Little Differently, BuzzFeed News, October 20, 2018

“Bennett says, ‘When people think about the effects of mass incarceration, they never think about women, nor do they think about the toll women’s incarceration takes on families and children.’” Formerly Incarcerated Women on Life after Life,, November 15, 2018

Popular Photography, September 14, 2018, “[Bennett’s] captivating environmental portraits *** [are among] our favorite projects currently on view at Photoville.”

“One of my absolute favourites [at Photoville] was Life After Life in Prison: The Bedroom Project.” Positiv, Fotoajakiri, Estonian Photo Magazine, Issue 35, 2018

12 Must-See Exhibition at the Indian Photography Festival, Feature Shoot, September 7, 2018

The Ongoing Indian Photography Festival Tells Some Poignant Stories About Women, Verve Magazine, September 28, 2018, “What caught our eye, however, were the projects highlighting the life of women caught in unique circumstances — a powerful portrayal of femininity struggling to survive in toxic environments.”

Better Photography, August 6, 2018, “The Indian Photography Festival-Hyderabad is back with an exciting lineup of imagery that explore various social, economic and cultural themes.”

PDN Photo of the Day, February 20, 2018

Q&A: Sara Bennett, Strange Fire Collective, October 4, 2018

Interview with Sara Bennett, Dag Van De Vrouwen, May 2019

Bennett’s work as an artist is never just about her eye for a good shot. It’s always about giving a voice to her subjects.” Creating Unexpected Connections, Redeemer Report, January 2019

Behind the Lens: Out of Prison, Into a Home of Her Own, Governing Magazine, May 2018

Photography of the Day: They spent decades in prison, and now these women have posed for portraits in their bedrooms. The idea, says their photographer, is to humanize these survivor. The Marshall Project newsletter, Opening Statement, March 15, 2018 (with a link to the Medium piece)

Lawyer, Photographer and Activist Sara Bennett Talks Prison System and Life after Parole, Merion West, July 3, 2018

Featured on the Instagram account, @opensocietyfoundation, December 20 – December 28, 2018

Featured on the Instagram account, @strangefirecollective, October 4 – October 10, 2018

Featured on the Instagram account, @everydayincarceration, February 27 – March 9, 2018

Eldridge & Co: Sara Bennett, photographer, and Karen Ely, former inmate, CUNY TV, March 21, 2018

Photos and Parole, video by Trinity Wall Street, September 18, 2018

LZ Sunday Paper, “Arts, Sports & Pop Culture,” Life After Life in Prison: The Bedroom Project, February 25, 2018

New Exhibit Explores FDR’s Freedoms, The Main Street Wire, June 24, 2018


Life After Life in Prison

“Sara Bennett's photo essay offers touching insights to women adjusting to their newfound freedom.” The Road Ahead, Variety & Rolling Stone Present American (In)Justice.

[Ms. Bennett] watched as [the women] explored their new freedom and dealt with the lingering restrictions on it, from mandatory drug tests to curfews.— How Newfound Freedom Feels,  New York Times, Album, July 10, 2016

Bennett’s utterly unsentimental photos also reflect her desire, after spending 30 years as a criminal defense lawyer, to challenge the common assumption that these women are dangerous, unredeemed or unforgiveable. — Powerful Portraits Capture Life After Decades in Prison, Women in the World, October 14, 2015

People are more than their worst act. That’s the founding principle for an ongoing photography project by Sara Bennett, a former attorney documenting the stories of four convicted murderers working to rebuild their lives — Photos: Four Women Convicted of Murder Begin to Move on After Prison, PBS News Hour/Art Beat, October 28, 2015

“The longer you’re an attorney the more serious your cases are,” [Bennett] said, recalling a 16-year-old client who was sentenced to life without parole for murder. “I never forgot him. When you send people away for life,’’ she says, “you’re saying there’s no hope. That they’ll never be rehabilitated.” And yet, she adds, “People are more than their worst act. People are complicated.” — So This is What A Murderer Looks Like, The Marshall Project, September 11, 2015

The frankness of the photo makes you lean in.... The images are unblinking in their gaze. They are without judgement. Or excuse. They are of the moment, in service as intimate eyewitness to the mundanities, struggles and milestones that fill the every day of a person returning to life on the outside. Defense Attorney Turned Photographer Captures ‘Life After Life in Prison,' Mass Appeal, April 14, 2017

There really is life after life in prison.11 Photos that Show What Female Ex-Cons “Look” Like,, January 19, 2017

Life After Life in Prison makes visible what we don’t see; the people who sit next to us on the bus, beside us in line at Duane Reade, preparing our lunch at the diner around the corner. They are the tip of the iceberg and represent the thousands still inside. — OffBeat: Sara Bennett’s Life After Life in Prison, New York Natives, September 28, 2105

The room was hot, but students, faculty and outsiders alike sat and stood wherever they could, all attentive and fascinated.... “I think students are hungry for real things,” said [Dean] Kessler, “things that bring what they’re learning in the classroom in contact with something concrete.”  — Humanizing the Incarcerated: “Life After Life at the Passage Gallery, The Purchase Beat, September 16, 2015

Bennett's intervention reads as minimal. The women are depicted in their homes, at work, church, and intimate moments with family.  Through the photos, Bennett tells a powerful story of transformation and resilience despite the reality of successive closed doors. Visions of Confinement at Hunter East Harlem Gallery, Gallery Girl, NYC, July 2016

Eldridge & Co: Sara Bennett’s “Life After Life in Prison.” CUNY TV, September 16, 2015

This Instagram Account Shatters Stereotypes about Incarceration, Washington Post, June 3, 2016

New York Art Exhibit Hopes to Spark Conversation on Female Incarceration, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, July 21, 2016

LZ Sunday Paper, “Pick of the Week: So This is What a Murderer Looks Like,” September 2015