When I signed on with Time Magazine in 1982, I made the decision
to take advantage of the depth the magazine allows its reporters
and photographers to explore when covering stories. I wanted to
understand the people, the cultures, and thereby give current
stories a context. I wanted to crack the superficial shell of
a story. One way to do that, I thought, was to live in the countries
I was contracted to cover. And so I did: first Central America,
then Brazil, Thailand, and finally eleven years in the Indian
I learned that when you leave the First World, many of the value
systems you hold as central to social order are no longer important.
Volatile. Spontaneous. Unpredictable. Chaotic. These words describe
the countries in which I lived and worked. The photograph at left,
for instance, illustrates how some countries deal with human rights,
where demonstrations against government policies can become a
gauntlet of bamboo sticks and stones. The man in the image may
not have been injured, but in New Delhi in the early 1990s, social
protest could carry a stiff price.
In many of these countries, history is decided through the barrel
of a gun, or through the convergence of chaotic events. My role
was to serve as witness and offer to people a view of history
unfolding in its varied and rich cultural contexts.
Thimpu, Bhutan Circa 1990
When I live in a country, I try to imagine how I can visually
capture something of the daily habits of the people. In Timpu,
like in many places, chewing betel nut is so much a part of society
that it is almost emblematic. In this image, the white marks on
the building are from the lime that helps release the addictive
components of the betel nut.
The Citadel, South Carolina 1999
The arches in this dorm building are very similar to the Islamic
architecture Im familiar with. But what struck me when taking
this photograph of George W. Bush was the Alice-in-Wonderland
quality to the scene, the checkerboard that seemed an appropriate
political metaphor, and the sheer size of the squares that minimized
the stature of the individual.
Late one afternoon, I received permission to photograph Taliban
forces outside Kabul.
They were firing on opposition forces who were attacking the capital.
It struck me that more than ten years ago, Soviet troops were
firing on opposition groups from the same location. It seems,
sometimes, that there is no stopping wars in some places of the
Chapel Hill, North Carolina 1999
Southern Village is a planned community outside Chapel Hill that
was designed to deal with urban density in a novel or different
way. The houses are built close together to encourage people to
socialize. What I found interesting with the scene is the true
innocence of the child running through the sprinkler in summer
the sense of the freedom of youth, of the suburban lifestyle.
Miami Beach, Florida Labor Day Weekend, 1999
Ocean Beach is always filled with crowds and one afternoon I came
upon a group from Queens, New York, who regularly travel down
to Miami. Watching them, it struck me that these people were the
product of malls, tattoo parlors, and muscle beaches and how their
tackiness fits perfectly with the resort quality of the Miami
Srinagar, Kashmir Circa 1989
During the early 1990s, in their battle for independence from
India, Kashmiri militants would walk the streets several times
a day taking shots at the security forces. Today, the movement
has been taken over by non-Kashmiri forces trained in Pakistan
or Afghanistan. Its likely that the man in the photograph is
dead or in jail.
The White House 1999
Hillary Clinton was interviewed in The White House solarium toward
the end of the medias attention to the Lewinski story. Rarely
does Ms. Clinton let her guard down and that day I was struck
by her endurance. In this photograph I caught a brief moment when
she seemed to pull away from the public persona.
Rawalpindi, Pakistan 1999
Heroin use was never a problem in Pakistan despite its production
in neighboring Afghanistan; now it has one of the highest rates
of addiction in the world. Often addicts are victims of their
societys low standards of law and order, of corruption, or of
poor economies. I wanted to illustrate that addiction can happen