ARTS & CULTURE

Post-Breakup Photos Capture Those Strangely Tender Objects Your Exes Leave Behind

02/17/2015 09:50 am ET

When a relationship ends, what happens to the objects left behind? This was the question explored by photographer Sam Evans-Butler. In his series "Souvenirs," Evans-Butler captures a variety of subjects alongside a particular object, a memento of a past lover and a past love.

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Nathaniel, blogger, “My ex used to be a ceramicist. After we broke up I considered breaking this bowl he made me for my 21st birthday, but it managed to stay with me for three more years, and now my ex and I are best friends.”

"I once saw a film in which a character kept a diary that was composed mostly of a list," Evans-Butler writes in his statement, "things that were pleasing, beautiful, fanciful and fleeting. It made me think about the objects that we are left behind with when a relationship ends, the memories they come to represent and the emotions they stir up."

The photo essay, originally featured in Hello Mr., is a vibrant archive of the inanimate things we maintain attachments to even after connections to their owners have been severed. How do objects bring back memories, tell stories, answer unsolved questions? In what ways can our belongings provide what other humans cannot?

See the bittersweet stories in full below, and if you're so inclined, post your own souvenirs on Instagram using #YourSouvenir, tagging both @hellomr and @needsupply. Hello Mr. and Need Supply Co. will eventually choose a "winner" of the hashtag competition, and he or she will receive a $500 gift card.

  • Adrian, stylist, found this drawing after his partner moved out. He’s not really sure if it was intended to be mean spirited.
  • Erol, small business owner, opened Kahve coffee shop with the man he was dating.
  • Nick, photographer, kept this necklace his ex made specifically for him.
  • Ryan, creator of Hello Mr., kept a Comme de Garçon wallet his ex gave him back in Australia.
  • Matthew, DJ, got a tattoo that his boyfriend paid for to commemorate their favorite song, “I Found A Reason” by Cat Power.
  • Paul, painter, stole these sunglasses from his boyfriend during a messy break-up, despite the fact that he didn’t like them.
  • Matthew, agent assistant, has a Margiela sweater from his ex. He kept it primarily for the scent.
  • Fran, editor at Hello Mr., "I totally had every intention of returning this shirt, but I actually really love how soft it is, and then he said something rude about me on Twitter."
  • Drew, chief creative officer, "I hung on to my ex-boyfriend's cape. He bought it, and I stole it. Capes are my signature look now. Haha."

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