Part 2: How I Learned Not to be a Photojournalist


I returned to Seattle from Idaho in the summer of 1981 to work at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer: I had moved to Idaho a few years before to work on a small newspaper in Twin Falls, but for the last year of my stay there — having left that job and surviving on my savings and the generosity of friends — I photographed at the Duck Valley Indian Reservation. I used those photographs to get the Post-Intelligencer job. They were the only photographs I showed Chuck Freestone, the assistant managing editor for graphics, when I interviewed. No sports action, feature, or spot news, just Duck Valley. When I was thinking about doing an independent project, it was Chuck who suggested that I photograph Native Americans in Seattle.

I wanted to work on an independent project in order to develop a deeper, longer-term story than newspaper work allowed. In the past I had often worked on stories of my own with the intention of publishing them in the newspaper I was working for. I did the work on my own time, because these pieces took more time to do than the paper was willing to pay for. But doing this let me photograph topics I chose myself and found personally interesting and important to explore. Duck Valley was the first photographic work I had done that wasn’t intended from the very beginning for a newspaper.

I began by checking out Indian organizations in the city. The Seattle Indian Health Board had many programs, including a clinic at the county hospital, a substantial alcoholism program with outpatient counseling downtown, and an inpatient treatment






Getting Started