Photos and Article by Moriah Schroeder

Editors’ Note: When we heard about Moriah Schroeder’s photography project, we knew we wanted to include it in this issue—it fits so perfectly with the theme “community.” The following is Mo’s explanation of her project, in her own words. Her inspiration, her work, and her goal.

What do you think of when you see the number 331?

Do you think of an area code?

Do you think of money?

What if I were to tell you that 311 is the number of homeless people in North Dakota? That’s according to the Missouri Valley Coalition for Homeless People.

To put that into perspective, that is the approximate population of the town McVille, North Dakota.

A big dream of mine is to travel around the 50 states and photograph homeless people and share their amazing stories. After I visit all 50 states, I would like to open a gallery with many of the photos I have taken throughout my trip.

When I attended my last class of my senior year at college, we had to focus on a community based project, also known as macro work within social work. I thought to myself, I could start this dream of mine now in the state of North Dakota. I was able to reach out and network to a few community based organizations throughout Bismarck and ask for their help.

Ministry on the Margins was a great help. There, I was able to meet 10 individuals experiencing homelessness. I wanted to make this project very meaningful, so I asked each individual heavy questions and recorded their responses. After this, I was able to photograph each person. I wanted each picture to be a portrait, and I wanted the person being photographed to be comfortable, whether that meant not looking at me or smiling.

Once I put my final touches on everything, I was able to hold a gallery showing at Ministry on the Margins. To my surprise, it was well attended, and I was overwhelmed with the response of the community. My main goal of this project was to open the public’s eye to this reality of the homeless situation in Bismarck.   

Moriah Schroeder, known by her friends as Mo, graduated from the University of Mary in April with a bachelor’s degree  in social work. Mo worked as the head athletic photographer for U-Mary while also running her own photography business on the side. Click here to see more of her work.