continuing that work, I was beginning to realize that alcoholism, for me, had taken a back seat to religion and the mission system and how the two structured the street people’s lives.

I was making formal changes in the structure of the photographs, including more information in the frame and consistently using a greater depth of field in order to have more space from foreground to background in focus. But the changes were tentative, and I went back and forth about these compositional choices for months. (I made figures 9 and 10, which reflect these differences, the same evening.) Maybe I knew my primary interest wasn’t the alcoholism but wasn’t able to say what it was. Why was I here in these missions? My ideas about what I was doing and the formal aspects of the photographs changed at the same time. Initially, the ideas forced the formal changes, but later the formal changes fueled my ideas by opening up new possibilities of expression.

Around this time — partly on a whim and partly out of frustration with the photographs I was making for the project — I entered the Master of Fine Arts program at the University of Washington in Seattle. Thinking back, I see how important it was to have added this peer group to my social world and critical audience. The students and faculty I knew at the university lived in a professional world of art, not the professional world of journalism I was coming from. A good part of my daily life was now spent with them in the graduate program studios or the coffee shop in the basement of the art building. Their critical concerns and criteria for photographic excellence were different from those of professional journalism. They responded to my work in ways that helped me develop a new perspective. Continuing contact with them gave me the social support I needed to develop a new way of thinking and working.

Their support was important because I didn’t know at first whether the photographs I was making in this new way were good or not. I thought they were but knew they