25 October 2021

The Visual Side of Ambiguous Loss​

25 October 2021 - Written by PhMuseum

Focusing on the irrational impact of losing a dear loved one, Canadian photographer Alexa Vachon investigates how the sudden disappearance of a family member still has a profound impact decades later.

“We were a three-person family before you were born and we were a three-person family after he left.”


“We stopped searching because it was futile. What do you do if you find him? He’s not gonna come home. It wasn’t like he was looking for us, he knew where we were. He wasn’t looking for a family.”


When Nadja was a child, her brother went missing. It started with a night out here and there, then a week, then months. ‘Adonis’ follows Nadja and her parents as they try to make sense of that troubled time. Together they trace Adonis’ footsteps while exploring the effects of ambiguous loss, a loss that is by definition open-ended and without closure. Adonis the boy chose to go missing, to leave his family and home behind. My work examines what happens to a family when someone chooses to leave without saying goodbye, exploring themes of loss, trauma, addiction and home.

Words and Pictures by Alexa Vachon.


Alexa Vachon is an image-maker and visual storyteller whose collaborative work often involves people who don’t fit neatly into society’s boxes. Through photography and text, she explores identity building, evolving consent, and ethical representation. Her work focuses on topics including agency, queer identity, the body in movement, and trauma. Find her on PhMuseum and Instagram.


This feature is part of Story of the Week, a selection of relevant projects from our community handpicked by the PhMuseum curators.

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Reading time

3 minutes