hen I was a young photographer making my way through the world I used work at a newspaper for about two years and move on and hopefully up. I learned a lot along the way from mentors and friends.
My last stop before I headed east and to the bigger time was in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Driving into the city from the east was always something. Roll your windows down and you could breath the sickly sweet air from all the cigarette companies making their nasty products.
I had forgotten what I knew about poverty when I eventually moved to New Orleans. Here’s why. In the poorer neighborhoods of Winston-Salem many people lived in shack-like houses. Many of the floors were hard packed dirt. I’d seen poverty at my last job, but these were country dwellers living off of dirt roads. The folks in Winston-Salem were living in the heart of a mid-sized city. I don’t know of people living in dirt floored houses in NOLA.
I was walking down the street a couple of blocks from the newspaper when I found this guy working. It seemed like I was working in available darkness. I used an old school technique called pushing the film. I made this picture on Tri-X, black and white film. You could add a stop or two by developing it in a different development chemistry that was so high energy that I used to shake the developing can for 30 seconds and leave the darkroom until it was done 6 minutes later.
The rest was easy. Make a print, dry a print and caption it.
This was the last picture that I made in Winston-Salem.