World Photography Day: ‘Those Left Behind’ Project

The project

For World Photography Day, we wanted to share images from the exhibition of Stephen Lawson’s ‘Those Left Behind’, a photography project that aims to capture the experience of missing by focusing on the families of people who have been missing for a year or longer.

We worked with Stephen on this project by putting him in contact with family members with a missing loved one. Each family member let Stephen into their homes and allowed him to capture their sense of loss, to listen to memories of their missing loved one and to understand their experience of missing.

What inspired you to create ‘Those Left Behind’?

“I moved to France when I was in my early twenties. Whilst there, I became involved with drugs and drifted away from my family. During this time, a friend of mine went missing after a night out. There was no help or interest from the authorities, and unfortunately his body was found six weeks later. This has always stayed with me; I was lucky that my family was there for me and helped me through these hard times. Once I decided to study photography, I knew that I wanted to tell peoples stories, highlighting the stories that mainstream media tend to avoid.”

– Stephen Lawson

Who was involved in the project?

The four family members that Stephen photographed for this project were:

Kevin Gosden, father of Andrew Gosden who has been missing since September 2007. Andrew was last seen leaving King’s Cross station in London.

Sarah Godwin, mother of Quentin Godwin who has been missing since May 1992. Quentin was last seen leaving his home in Auckland, New Zealand to go to work.

Anthea Langelaan, mother of Cian Langelaan who has been missing since September 2020. Cian was last seen in County Donegal, Ireland.

Denise Horvath-Allan, mother of Charles Horvath-Allan who has been missing since 1989. Charles was last seen in Kelowna in British Columbia, Canada.

‘Those Left Behind’ Exhibition

The exhibition in Staffordshire presented the images as part of a home, with a television playing a montage of interviews of families talking about photographs of their missing loved one. Each wall is representative of a different missing person with Stephen’s photographs of the families displayed like family photos.

“I wanted to move away from the normal gallery view of images, it can be cold and clinical and distances us from the subject we are looking at. I wanted people to experience normality, from the wallpaper on the walls, to the furniture and television, to give the impression of the everyday home and life of everyday people. When the viewer starts to look closer and examine the display they can see that these ‘everyday people’ have experienced something that in fact could happen to anyone.” 

– Stephen Lawson

To learn more about the ‘Those Left Behind’ project, you can visit Stephen’s website:

Learn More

Sign up to be a Digital Search Hero

We have launched a regular email so that you can be aware of new missing person appeals and share them far and wide! We are also calling on all Heroes to be the eyes and ears for Missing People on the ground. Your sighting of a missing person could make a difference in a crucial time.