Early Works

On the Tarmac, Soviet Union, 1989


My first camera was a gift from my grandmother for Christmas. It was a lightweight, plastic-bodied point-and-shoot. I don't remember the brand and model. My father was the family photographer; while I may have handled a camera before receiving this gift, I have no memories of framing and making images until this "first" camera.

During the summer of 1989, I traveled to the Soviet Union with People to People as a Student Ambassador. The exploration I experienced by way of the lens was a revelation. I had found a way to engage with people whose language I did not speak, whether it was with shared smiles, gestures, or broken Russian. I had found the way to make little slices of time into images, and a way to collect moments that would be catalysts for narratives for decades to come.

I told myself when I made this image that I would never forget the moment. We were on the airport tarmac, waiting for a plane. It was warm; we'd been traveling for about two weeks. It made me smile that a girl pulled out shaving cream and a razor and began shaving her legs, it made me smile that she was the only one in pink in a sea of blue.

When I left the USSR, I felt I'd learned so many things. I came home wanting to make more images, to study photography, and to use the images I made to share and tell stories.