A Lingering Question on Morality

I flew back to Denver for the sole purpose of making photographs.  I’d been in Denver the previous two years, and dabbled in making photographs.  This time I was really trying to start a new project, and for me a new way of photographing.  In those previous trips, I loved the feelings and memories I had photographing on the streets, but this new idea was based on those feelings, and not the pictures I had those previous trips.  I was a little nervous.

10 commandments

The original idea was to photograph along Colfax Avenue, but my ideas and inspirations have since grown.  So this afternoon in question, I took the bus from my Mom’s house in Park Hill, down Colfax to Civic Center Park.  I planned on walking back to her house and photograph, about 4-5 miles along Colfax Ave, through the heart of Denver


When I got off the bus, I walked around the park, to get acclimated and connected to my surroundings before I really started photographing.

Walking the park, I was a bit taken aback but what I saw.  It was really an open drug market.  Within minutes, I was offered a variety of things – pot, cocaine, ecstasy.  No stranger to these things, but I was really angry at how many people kept offering me drugs, and how aggressively they pursued me.


The first picture I took that day was on the steps to the Capitol Building, and it as a stone block with the 10 Commandments carved into it.  There was a squirrel dashing around the block, looking for scrapes of food.  I wanted to photograph the squirrel against the 10 Commandments.

power invasion

The aggression of the squirrel was unnerving.  I thought it was gonna take my wallet, perhaps embolden by all crime around the Capitol Building, and enacting it all itself.


Somehow it all became clear, the question or problem in front of my camera.  Drugs and social chaos on the foot of the Capitol Building; a message delivered by God about moral living; and a rodent looking to take anything I had without question or fear.  It seemed like the perfect metaphor for what I’d come to photograph.  I knew right then that I found something of the personal history I wanted to document walking the streets in Denver, one caught between conflicting expectations and reality.



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