One damp morning 8 years ago I woke up at 4am to photograph heroin addicts receiving their morning methadone medication at the Delta Methadone Clinic in Portland, Oregon. I remember I had a lot of trouble finding the place until I spotted the only commercial building in the residential neighborhood without a sign. The huge line forming outside its doors before sunrise was a good indication too. To protect the identity of the patients, I couldn’t photography any faces.
I drew my inspiration for this shot from a photo I saw in National Geographic. Of course I didn’t execute this type of photo as well as I did 4 years later when I shot blackface performer Shirley Q. Liquor. In 2007 I had lenses that could let in 4x more light than the lenses I had in 2003, allowing me to make much sharper photos in low light.
I remember this day like it was yesterday. I was 4 months into freelancing again after quitting my newspaper job in Topeka, Kansas, when the Portland Tribune hired me to shoot portraits of the city’s new women’s football team. I was truly finding my voice as a portrait photographer back then. Just looking at these pictures today has me wondering how long it took me to learn not to loom over people or shoot portraits with super wide angle lenses.
Its been a long time since I did an assignment for Agence France Presse. This image was taken during the 2003 NBA playoffs with what I think was a Canon DCS-520, my second professional digital camera, The cameras sensor made three-and-half 1.7 megapixel images per second. In contrast the cameras I use today take eight images per second with 15 megapixels of information per picture.