At the beginning of the month, I traveled to Caborca, Méx. with Fernanda Santos to document migrants who were on the journey of their lives as they escaped violence and hunger in their home countries. This was one of the most difficult assignments I’ve worked on. Watching people risk life and limb for an opportunity to get to the U.S., later to be told by their loved ones about POTUS’s plans to make it more difficult for people without special skills or a lot of money to immigrate. They understand that if they ever reach the U.S. they’ll encounter 10,000 more CBP agents, increased ICE activity and xenophobia from the citizenry.
We spent a few days at the Pueblo Sin Fronteras shelters for migrants in Sonoyta and Caborca. We also saw people riding and running to catch La Bestia—a commercial train that runs from Central America to Mexicali and which many migrants ride, despite its reputation for danger and death.
Most of the people I got to speak with were from Honduras. There were also a few men from El Salvador and Guatemala. There was one woman at the shelter when I was there. She didn’t want to be photographed so we just talked. She told me of the horrors of the migration north—especially for women, who are often raped and abused as they try to find a better life for themselves. It planted the bug in me to return to tell their story some day.
When asked if they could have “done it legally” many people told me with a wistful look that if they had that money they would have used it to feed their families. They have nothing but the desire for a better life for their loved ones and themselves, and that’s why they are attempting this life-threatening trip. Thanks for looking
And here is the pdf of the photos in print! We got a color page for this, which is always exciting.
Here are some pictures from assignments and stories from February. I got to travel through a lot of Arizona for stories —from the northern Four Corners region where Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah meet down to the border of Arizona and Sonora, Mexico.
First, a story for The New York Times sports section about the basketball team at Chinle High School on the Navajo Nation. I was afforded the opportunity and support to spend a few days at the end of January and beginning of February working with the team and their families.
Then, for The Wall Street Journal, daily coverage of national news. On Feb. 3, Yosan, an Eritrean refugee woman resettled in Phoenix. This was the first day she moved into her apartment. Photos made for The Wall Street Journal as part of a bigger story about her arrival along with three other refugees.
My next assignment was really difficult. I worked with Fernanda Santos to document the deportation of Guadalupe García de Rayos for The New York Times. She went in for an ICE check-in and was subsequently deported, making her the first undocumented person who was deemed “not a threat” to be expelled under President Trump’s new criteria for deportations outlined in a new Executive Order. I photographed a protest outside her ICE hearing and then followed her American citizen children down to Nogales, Sonora, Mexico where they reunited with their mom for the night and tried to figure out their next steps.
There were a few other assignments that haven’t been published yet, so I’ll leave those off for now. Thanks for looking, friends.
2017 began in a busy way. I’m very grateful for the stories I’ve been able to dig into so far.
The first story of the year was documenting The Ohio State Marching Band’s journey to the Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix. ESPN asked photographer Michael F. McElroy to begin with the band in Columbus, Oh., and I took over when they touched town in Arizona. I got to spend a day with them hiking in Sedona before a week of grueling rehearsals, performances and parades. They snuck a lot of fun in there, too. I’m thankful for the band allowing me the access, and to ESPN for allowing me the time to get this right. Check out our finished piece, here — I even dusted off my reporter’s hat and wrote the intro.
My next assignment was a lesson in breaking news. From the story reported by Fernanda Santos for the New York Times: Nina Chaubal and her wife, Greta Martela, who run TransLifeline, which is a suicide hotline for transgender people, “thought about going through the Rocky Mountains on their way to Chicago from San Diego late last month, but did not want to risk getting caught in a snowstorm. So they drove south through Arizona, where Ms. Chaubal, an Indian national with an invalid work visa, fell into the hands of the Border Patrol.” Fernanda’s story goes on to talk about the added fear of harassment and lack of medical care that trans women face when they’re detained and held by ICE or CBP. We got word of Nina’s release and I drove to meet her and Greta as they reunited and made their way home after the ordeal.
Fernanda Santos and I worked on another story together for my next assignment. We flew in a helicopter to the bottom of the Grand Canyon to Supai Village, the remote and beautiful home to the Havasupai people. There we reported on the school, Havasupai Elementary. From Fernanda’s reporting: “In the most recent evaluation made public, they tested at the first and third percentile, well below every other school on Indian reservations, already among the worst in the country. The abysmal test scores are highlighted in a federal lawsuit filed this month against the government by members of the Havasupai Tribe on behalf of nine students at the school. The tribe, a dwindling nation of 730, says the United States has reneged on its legal duty to educate their children by, among other things, allowing a janitor and a secretary to fill in for absent teachers, and by failing to provide special-education services and enough books for all students.” Read the entire piece here.
Later in the month I continued working with Ebony and her three boys on a personal project that I haven’t shared a lot of images from yet. I’ll write more about this later :). For now I have a lot more photos to make.
At the end of January, I photographed the Womens March in Phoenix and other responses to the Inauguration and the first policies of Donald Trump, including his executive orders on immigration enforcement and refugees.
This year sure looks like it will be interesting. I hope you’ll follow along.
There’s been a lot written about this year already, so i’ll stick to photos and captions. Links to stories of the talented writers I collaborated with are included when available. Keep learning and working hard, friends. Thanks for looking.
October 10th in Phoenix is now officially Indigenous Peoples Day instead of the federally recognized Columbus Day. Native and indigenous people from around the state gathered at Puente Human Rights Movement in Phoenix to share stories, songs, poems, food, traditions and just get together and have a great time. There was also much said in solidarity with the protests against the copper mine at sacred Oak Flat, against the Dakota Access Pipeline, and against the further development of the Loop 202 freeway in south Phoenix that would cut through South Mountain—which is a sacred site. I felt so lucky to document this event, and I’m glad to share some scenes and portraits.
A collection from a September 2016 trip to visit family and friends in the northern U.K., including the Yorkshire cities Hartshead, Howarth, York and Huddersfield—and one day in Lancashire in Liverpool. Visiting family in this case also meant seeing my parents and sister for the first time in months (even though they live on the other side of the U.S.) and introducing my partner Eric to my aunts, uncles, cousins and chosen family in the U.K. for the first time after five years together. (It went so well, and so many laughs were had. My little cousin even told me he approves.)
I settled on this edit after three weeks of anxiously processing. Most of the family photos are omitted and instead this focuses on the little scenes and landscapes that make me feel full of Yorkshire. 99% of spending time with family was healing and beautiful and much needed refuge from the heat and stress. We went on long walks, danced and drank and tried to cram years into a few days. Small hints of nostalgia and guilt haunt my visits. I love these people and places so much, and I wish I was there for them full-time. Saying goodbye sucks.
Also very present was the fact that my aunt, cousins and mom were in the middle of the process of moving my grandad into a hospice and out of his home. I documented this process and out of respect for him and my mom and family, I’m not ready to publish those.
Anyway, thanks for looking. Love to everyone.
On the last day of August, I had the privilege of photographing the periphery of Donald Trump’s visit to Phoenix, Arizona to make a much-anticipated speech on immigration reform and border security in the United States. Many expected a pivot away from his previous plan to erect a concrete wall along our 2,000 mile shared border, but he ended up doubling down. Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who has been recommended for federal charges for racially profiling Latinxs, gave remarks in favor of the candidate.
But I didn’t have a credential for the inside show—I photographed Phoenix’s reaction to the circus being in town. For the most part, it was a huge Mexican dance party with loud mariachi music and traditional dancing. There were camps of angry protesters and giant balloons of Trump in a Klan robe and Arpaio in a jail uniform. There were Trump supporters carrying crosses a la Jesus. But my favorite thing I saw yesterday was a beautiful peace dance by Danza Azteca Chichimeca Tezcatlipoca. Check them out if you have a moment. I’ve linked their Facebook page. We all need a bit of peace right now.
Thanks for looking.
How is it the end of July already!?
I’m now four months in to being a full-time independent photographer and coming up on the first anniversary of living in Arizona. It feels surreal to say that, and I’m feeling so grateful this is my job. New challenges abound, which has made room for growth. It still feels like there’s more that I don’t know I don’t know, especially about setting myself up as a business, but I’m moving forward and embracing each opportunity. When it feels like the phone will never ring again, it miraculously does.
There are still a few assignments I’ve shot this summer that aren’t published so I can’t share everything, but here is a peek at what the summer has held for me so far (besides smoldering desert heat).
I had the opportunity to visit the Grand Canyon Railroad’s Chief Mechanical Engineer, hear the tearful and frustrated reaction by Latinx/Latinx Americans after a SCOTUS deadlock in late June halting immigration reform, a northern Arizona gun club having tough conversations about when elders should retire their rifles, talk Minecraft with Arizona twins Kyle and Lauren Byrd who live with SMA, protests against police brutality (and the community meetings to move forward which you can see more of in earlier blog posts), visit the headquarters of TASER, Inc. to meet CEO Rick Smith, the end of the freeze on Arizona Kids Care, cover the heroes of the Tenderfoot Wildfire, meet two incredible (1) Olympians (2) and follow the Arizona GOP’s quest to woo border towns.
Thanks for looking, folks.
On Monday, July 18 Black Lives Matter Phoenix held a community meeting hosted by Rev. Reginald Walton, the pastor of Philips Memorial Christian Methodist Episcopal Church with a panel discussion and questions from the community for Mayor Greg Stanton, Arizona State University Prof. Dr. Matthew Whitaker, indigenous American civil rights leader Amanda Blackhorse, Phoenix Police Asst. Chief Mike Kurtenbach, constitutional lawyer Stephen Benedetto, community leader Clottee Hammons, and Richard Crews, Community Impact Manager of Thriving Together for Valley of the Sun United Way.
People absolutely packed the little church and braved flash floods and heavy rain to get to the meeting, and since there was such a turn out, many stood for hours and listened and wrote down questions for the panel.
It was a uniting, productive, peaceful meeting where it felt like all were heard and had the power to speak up. Police and community shared their struggles and people left talking about what they could all do to help their community. I hope conversations like this are happening all across our country.
Following a violent few weeks in the U.S., the black community in and around Phoenix has focused on coming together to grieve and call for change at rallies and community meetings. While there have been multiple groups holding events, the message is clear: change needs to occur more quickly, and police and citizens need to come together to implement those changes.
While not perfect, this city is doing a good job. Phoenix appointed a new chief of police last week, a black female Phoenix native. Phoenix and Tempe Police have supported and protected protesters this week tirelessly. Different organizations have provided plans to improve relations, including a 12 point plan initiated by the Black Women of Faith campaign.
It has been a peaceful movement here intent on working toward solutions. I have not seen any animosity or calling for violence against police, just the urgent need for trust between the communities and accountability for those police who use excessive force, leading to the disproportional killing of black Americans.