The Digital Journalist

Orleans Parish, Louisiana, 1999



We figured we could drive eight to ten hours a day if we needed to get back, but while we were photographing we tried to drive no more than 200 miles a day. We stayed off the main roads for the most part, unless we needed to fast forward to the next place before sunset. I would drive up and down every street in every town we passed - looking for pictures. What I wanted to do was shoot what I saw when I saw it. Documentary photography is very exciting in this respect. Countless pictures weren't taken because the light was wrong but the pictures I saw were gifts to me - serendipitous events to my alerted eye. I photographed people if I saw people, places if they held memories for me, things if they served as allegories for the way America felt to me when I grew up in the mid-twentieth century. I draw upon everything I've learned shooting reportage stories and portraits for magazines over my twenty-five year career and apply it to documentary photography. We stayed in trailer parks unless we couldn't find one. We charted out routes based on finding a thread that made sense to us - the Oregon Trail was one thread or subtext to follow. The pictures had nothing whatever to do with the Oregon Trail but it was an interesting itinerary to us. I look for the same pictures anywhere in any town. It really doesn't matter whether I'm in Pocatello, Idaho or Lolita, Texas; the pictures I'm looking for are there. We chart the course or alter it to fit in visits with our friends around the country, visit galleries I work with, museums, friends of friends. Sometimes we detour to see a place a friend told us about or simply check out the place a friend's parents were from. It all adds up to pictures, a reason to be in that place at that time to document what I was looking for in the first place.


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