When I was taking photojournalism classes, a writer and I were sent out to Folsom prison to do a story about inmates who restore eyeglasses. I wandered around the corner and found an even more interesting story—a group of inmates who were Braille translators. Many of them were lifers—it takes a long time to learn the Braille languages. One of the translators I interviewed mentioned that he had translated some music into Braille for a blind music teacher. He mentioned her name, and it was the mother of one of my friends. It really is a small world.
I photographed FS for an alternative weekly newspaper story. It was my first assignment, and my first cover. FS had worked as a contractor for the U.S. military in Iraq. Militants kidnapped him and threatened to execute him. He was able to escape. They shot him as he ran, and left him for dead on the side of the road. He didn’t die, and eventually made it to the U.S. In the photo, he shows me how his hands were bound. This became the first in a series of images that I made about the hands of people I photographed.
I was working with the Red Cross in Baton Rouge after hurricane Katrina. There was a crazy guy named Fred staying in the shelter. At first he caused us all sorts of trouble, but eventually he settled down and we got to like him. One day we drove into New Orleans to take him to see his house. I stood in his living room and looked at the pictures his daughter had drawn for him. Turns out he had been a nurse at one time, but life got the best of him. Here are three nurses in an abandoned city.
I was driving through South Dakota and decided to see the Badlands. As I pulled into a parking lot and got out of the car, a huge storm came in. It was fierce. I tried to get some shots, but the wind and hail drove me to seek shelter against a bathroom wall. I ran out for a moment and took one shot. When I got back to my van, I found that the storm had blown in the back window. Glass everywhere. I spent three days in Rapid City waiting for a replacement window. It was so worth it.