“When I turned 16 in August, my parents bought me a Brownie 127 camera,” I said. “I took it everywhere, even when there was nowhere to go. Backyard shots, sky shots, framing shots in the kitchen, annoying the hell out of my parents and anyone who happened to visit on Sundays. I worked hard around the house and in the fields helping my dad so I could pay for the film, but some days I would walk around without, framing shots in my imagination. Ruth was embarrassed at first, but then I think she started to enjoy the attention. I could tease her in front of the family, tell her I was going to take pictures of only her. I meant it, and she knew I meant it, but everyone thought it was a great joke. In those days, if I had ten dollars in my pocket, I would have spent every cent on film and drug-store developing if she was the subject. Like I said, I think she enjoyed the attention.
“And my photographs were good. Really good. I was surprised. I thought of it as a hobby, something to scratch whatever creative itch kept me awake at night. But people started to pay attention. People at the Daily Times, for instance. I don’t know how they found out; maybe Mom, she was a chronic gossip and, when you live close to a small town, word spreads like the flu.”