I don’t know what I’m going to come back with. I don’t go with a checklist. Many times I don’t go on assignment. I just go because I feel like whatever it is that’s happening in that particular place is important. It’s about being a witness to it—documenting it and recording it. In the places I’ve chosen to be, over time it becomes more obvious which of those moments are critical.
I’m deeply interested in the photograph as a record of an encounter and enjoy putting myself in a timeline of image-makers, alongside other travelers, such as anthropologists, colonists, missionaries, even tourists. I do that to emphasize subjectivity, rather than privilege any single perspective—I see myself as only one of many storytellers.
It’s difficult now to feel that I can’t make an image to bring the devastation of the war with the contras home, even though I feel a tremendous urgency all the time to do so... It’s not that there haven’t been images made, but the larger sense of an “image” has been defined elsewhere—in Washington, and in the press, by the powers that be. I can’t, we can’t, somehow, reframe it.
Looking at contact sheets, it’s a great set of footprints. Either you got it or you didn’t. You could have gotten it, you should’ve moved. I think you’re plagued with that and then suddenly you find a frame and it just seems to be there, it just seems to know itself and sort of reveal itself. That’s the harmony.
What I’ve learned over fifteen years of working in the field is how to create opportunities out of accidents. I’ve learned not to be too fixed on what I was supposed to do, to be flexible, and to perceive moments. Sometimes things don’t fall into place as you had hoped, and you can stay fixed to one idea or you can see something else that might lead you a little bit off the path.