I recently had the chance to help cover another assignment for The New York Times, this time focused on the fascinating story of David Couper—the former Police Chief of Madison turned Episcopal priest in North Lake, Wisconsin. I was struck both by this sea change of lifestyle as well as his very real, pragmatic philosophy.
Cooper, a former Marine and police officer, is now a staunch advocate for improving police processes and correcting years of corruption and institutionalized racism in many police departments around the country.
Aside from being a incredibly interesting narrative, I enjoyed capturing the cozy, small-town church as it’s own separate character in the story.
On the hour-long drive back home from North Lake, it hit me: “Hmm, I’ve done a lot of stories about religion.”
It all started with my first real photo story back in 2009 with my first (and only) photojournalism class, studying at the Danish Institute for Study Abroad. Challenged with the (at the time, daunting) task of creating a photo story of “someone at work” over the course of a semester, I decided to turn towards a Catholic priest practicing in Copenhagen—where Catholics make up less than 1% of the population.
And now I’m proud to give a little preview of another addition to the list. During my final month in Salt Lake City while interning for the Deseret News, I sought out and photographed a personal photo story (that, unfortunately never found its way into print because of unfortunate timing):
43.3 percent. This is the average recidivism rate in the United States according to a recent Pew Center study. While there are a myriad of reasons why former inmates re-offend or violate the terms of their parole, the the more pertinent question to ask is: “What drives ex-convicts to not return to the prison system?” “ReFormed” is the story of three former inmates living in Salt Lake City, UT, who, through the strength of their spiritual convictions, escaped from the darkness of incarceration. With a Mormon population of nearly two-thirds, the state of Utah serves as a unique example of where faith and a deep spiritual connection can make all the difference—driving these three towards new lives.