After majoring in Fine Arts and writing a thesis on Paul Klee’s The Thinking Eye, some friends who were students of Harry Callahan steered me into photography. The good fortune of becoming a stringer for The Christian Science Monitor encouraged me to make a life of it.
In 1983–4, I travelled widely in China as doors closed in 1949 began to re-open. 1985 took me to the isolated world of southwest Louisiana, photographing for Ann Savoy’s book Cajun Music: A Reflection of a People. In 1986 I managed to get to Lhasa, Tibet during the remarkable moment when the Chinese briefly paused their repression of Tibetan spiritual life. Documenting rural village life from 1986 to 1992, I made fourteen visits to the remote mountain village of Ajoya in Sinaloa, Mexico, as drug related violence began to drive the people into slums of distant cities. Invited into a country closed to all but about 200 foreigners in 1991, I photographed post-Khmer-Rouge Cambodia before another wave of displacement and destruction arrived with global capitalism. In 1992 I slipped into the richness of Cuban culture during the “special period” of material scarcity that accompanied the post-Soviet collapse of their foreign aid. I’ve also been blessed with long-term projects, fifteen years inside the starlit Telluride Film Festival, twenty-five years shadowing remarkable composers and artists for The OtherMinds Foundation - a few episodes in a longer story.
As storytellers we want to draw the viewer in closer but the line between simple attraction and deeper illumination is slippery. I happily point my sailboat higher into the wind when Robert Frank says, if he could re-edit The Americans he “would choose pictures that are more questions… less perfect but have mystery.”