The English in McAllen, Texas
We live in a time where every story is a Covid story. Nothing is left untouched by the pandemic. The day that Texas Monthly asked me to go on a shoot to McAllen, TX was the same day an article in the NY Times described the Texas border town as the most concentrated Covid hot-spot in the country.
Those photojournalists covering first responders at this time, creating narratives of life and death in hospitals, I salute your work and your courage. I find it hard to imagine the fear you must often have had to face down in the line of creating those images. I had some hesitation about this shoot, but I took on the assignment. And, as it turns out, Covid wasn't the only imminent danger in the area.
The story was about Melissa Guerra, who frequently combs through areas of her beautiful family ranch with a metal-detector. Perhaps surprisingly, given that she lives on the Texas-Mexico border, she has turned up significant amounts of antique English china shards and dining flatware, most of it more than one hundred years old. For the full story, you can read the article.
I got lucky with the weather, others less so. It was bright and sunny, with large portentous clouds. What I didn't realize until an emergency warning flashed on my phone, was that a dangerous hurricane was expected to break land the following morning. Obviously I was on my way out of there, but when I spoke with Melissa a couple of days later, she told me that the ranch had suffered significant damage, causing a couple of twenty-four foot trees to be uprooted. Without the approaching storm, my images probably wouldn't have benefited from those portentous clouds.
I'm happy with the portrait the magazine used in the story, but I can't quite make my mind up whether I prefer the color or black-and-white.
Let me know if you have any thoughts on it.