Owl Scouts: Lost in the Woods is a 15-image photo series. On the surface, it has a simple, tragic narrative, following the adventures of a boy and girl lost deep in the woods. The two are members of the Boys and Girls Owl Scouts – a fictional organization Todd invented after finding a pair of tattered vintage boy and girl scouts uniforms in an antique store and imagined a pair of sad ghost scouts, abused by their adventures. In the Owl Scouts narrative, the lost duo encounters four challenges that test their survival skills and, ultimately, lead to their deaths.
I should probably also mention that Todd was going through a divorce during the creation process for Owl Scouts. Not surprisingly, he found himself ruminating on what kills a marriage – all the little challenges and failures that add up to its ultimate failure. It’s not really any one person’s fault, most of the time. Two people – young, inexperienced, intense people – set out on an adventure together, a marriage. And little by little they are set upon by all the little hardships of adult relationships, adult life. Eventually, for a lot of us, the marriage can’t take it. So it dies.
Some people are really put off by the kids dying in Owl Scouts, but it was clear to Todd from the beginning that they had to. That was the story he needed to tell. He wasn’t even sure at that point that marriages could end any other way. Anyway, who is really prepared for the things we have to face together as married couples? (Side note: having survived that marriage and divorce, and having embarked on a new adventure, I’m happy to say that Todd now feels pretty good that things don’t always have to end that way.)
But right then, he found myself irresistibly drawn toward dissecting the sad corpse of a failed marriage. In the process, he also took up the idea that none of these attacks on the survival of the union, these life challenges, were personal. The universe wasn’t out to get him specifically, after all. It didn’t care whether he survived or not. That was freeing – to think about the whole thing through the lens of the archetypal battle between man and nature, where man has this irrational need to control nature in order to survive, even though nature is uncontrollable and without intention or expectations.
Taken individually, each Owl Scouts image has its own story of inspiration, influences, and behind-the-scene struggles to bring it to life.