If Your House Was Burning Down, What Items Would You Take?

It’s a question we have all asked ourselves a million times: “If our house were to ever catch on fire, what things would we grab on the way out?”

While it is feasible to narrow down the items we’d take with us if that time ever came, the decision would never be easy. It’s difficult not to define our lives by the things that we own, everything we have collected over time, our comforts and our joys. So, what happens when those things you held so dear are gone?

The sudden loss of, not only your home, but to precious family heirlooms, invaluable documents, photographs, and treasured keepsakes is devastating — a time filled with confusion, heartbreak and pain.

When Foster Huntington asked himself the above question, he decided to take things one step further and actually gather those items he owned and photograph them. Then, he requested that some of his friends do the same.

What came next was the launch of The Burning House, which initially featured 10 such images. From there, submissions from strangers began rolling in, and within just a few short days, he was making international headlines.

This prompted Huntington to spend the span of five months driving thousands of miles throughout the West Coast in search of people “other than blog readers” so that he could pose the very same question. He wanted to include folks from all walks of life, not just those who spend their days on social media or glued to their iPhone.

The results? An uplifting perspective from people divided by 80 years and six continents. Huntington’s work is now gathered in a book called The Burning House: What Would You Take?

Here’s what he writes in the introduction:

Today, developed countries are consuming more than ever before. This culture of consumption is often fueled by people’s desire to define themselves by the possessions they amass.The Burning House: What Would You Take? takes a different approach to personal definition. By removing easily replaceable objects and instead focusing on things unique to them, people are able to capture their personalities in a photograph.

After you check out the submissions below, feel free to comment on what you’d grab from your house while fleeing a raging fire.

Name: Kate Molins
Age: 26
Location: London, UK
Occupation: Clapper / Loader
List: Buster Kitten (2 yr old cat), my mum’s ashes, photo album / scrap book, iPhone, grandmother’s watch, dad’s watch, my watch (16th birthday present from my mum), Macbook, passport, 8mm Camera (24th birthday present from all my friends).


M Coleman Horn
Name: M Coleman Horn
Age: 39
Location: Ogunquit, Maine
Occupation: Industrial Designer
List: William Henry Pocket Knife, Toys from youth, A couple of Panerai watches, Sketch book, A bottle of old Ardbeg scotch, Glock 19, iPhones , DVD with a handwritten note in it from Cameron Crowe, Rolleiflex 2.8, Backup Hard drive, Dunhill Lighter, The tag from my deceased dog., Fountain Pen, Some cigars and case, Passports, and Analog photos in leather bag.


Çiğdem Yalırsu
Name: Çiğdem Yalırsu
Age: 27
Location: İstanbul
Occupation: Architect
List: My bag, top


Trausti Hraunfjord
Name: Trausti Hraunfjord
Age: 47
Location: Lima, Perú
Occupation: Panographer
List: Hat, sunglasses, knife, whiskey


Alejandro Sosa
Name: Alejandro Sosa
Age: 36
Location: Venezuela
Occupation: Technology consultant
List: Everything is recoverable, except my daughter


Lais Reis
My name: Lais Reis
Age: 51
Location: Belo Horizonte, Brasil
Occupation: graphic designer
List: Drawing can solve everything (for me), design for a better world


Name: London
Age: 25
Location: Canada
Occupation: Farmer
List: letter from close friend, heirloom seeds-wallet, knife, hatchet, tool roll with carving tools, owl feather, and great grandmother’s artist’s box.


If interested, feel free to submit your own on the project site.