Work Published: New York Times Lens Blog

The New York Times Lens Blog published 19 of my photos from Standing Rock, along with parts of an interview about my experience taking pictures there over the past several

I’d like to include an excerpt from that interview that didn’t make the final piece, but I see as important in explaining my approach and contextualizing the images:

Evelyn: The camps are swarming with photographers these days. How do you think your take captures something another photographer doesn’t?

Me: Back when I started making images professionally, a photographer I admire gave me some great advice. She told me you can’t communicate to others what you don’t experience firsthand. Knowing that, she said, you should focus more on being fully present than on capturing a particular image. “Photography is a side effect to the entire experience,” she told me. “No images that I’ve made have really done justice to the kind of experiences I have.”

Unlike a lot of the photographers I’ve seen at Standing Rock recently, I spend most of my day not shooting. I talk to people. I help sort supplies. I’m another person in the community that’s formed at these camps, not just a passing observer.

These photos are a side effect of being at the encampments day in and day out. Many of them show quiet, intimate, painful, joyous, and mundane moments between blockades and other events that the media tends to focus on. I draw inspiration from Allan Sekula’s Waiting for Tear Gas, a series of images of the 1999 World Trade Organization protests. In a preface to the images, he writes, “The working idea was to move with the flow of protest, from dawn to 3 a.m. if need be, taking in the lulls, the waiting and the margins of events. The rule of thumb for this sort of anti-photojournalism: no flash, no telephoto zoom lens, no gas mask, no auto-focus, no press pass and no pressure to grab at all costs the one defining image of dramatic violence.”

These photos are what happened when I moved with the flow of the encampment, taking in the lulls, the waiting and the margins of events. My hope is that along with the everyday experiences of the camps, the images convey some of what I consider the most important part of my experience: the love and respect I’ve formed for the people and the land they depict.

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