These pictures made following the Deepwater Horizon explosion are to honor the people of the Gulf Coast. Once again, their strength and fortitude has been challenged, both by the catastrophic consequences of corporate greed as well as a local perception of ineffectual federal response. In asking these people for a bit of their time, I briefly join with them as a witness to record their stories for future consideration.
This was not my first visit to southern Louisiana and Mississippi. Following hurricanes Katrina and Rita, I spent long periods of time in these locations, photographing both the physical evidence of the devastation as well as making portraits of those burdened with the task of rebuilding their lives when all had been taken away.The people I have photographed are individuals with specific stories, particular losses and private sorrows.
For every person that allowed me to make his or her portrait, there is another latent presence – someone afraid of harming future chances of obtaining clean-up work with those entities responsible for the disaster. I have spent hours listening to the rage and fear of those ignored by BP, many of whom are desperate for temporary jobs from BP; the dichotomy of the situation is nothing if not tragic. It is as if a giant puppet master is controlling all the strings, a sorry state of affairs for a fiercely proud and formerly independent people.