The Truth About Forgiveness

washington dc photographer
"But for Bernard, forgiveness comes hard. It requires peeling back the layers of a life, tracing the arc of relationships, recasting a narrative over and over to worry some telling detail. Sometimes it means going right to the source, confronting the offender in a quest for answers. And, as Bernard has come to realize, it also requires forgiving yourself.
But it begins with vengeance."
from The Truth About Forgiveness, by Karen Houppert

I only met Bernard briefly, on a sunny afternoon in February when I arrived at his home in Baltimore to take some photos. Afterward, we drove to the place where, fourteen years ago, he had heard shots and found his 17-year-old son Vernon, dying on the road.

The houses where Bernard had lived and where his son's killer stood had both been torn down to make room for a new housing development. Spray-painted symbols on the dirt marked the ongoing construction, and a patch of white salt leftover from a recent ice storm covered the spot where Vernon's body lay on that May evening just past midnight in 1994. Nearby was a phone pole where Bernard used to post photos of Vernon to "let people know what happened here."

It was cold, and we didn't stay long before driving across town to the cemetery where Vernon was buried. Bernard hadn't visited for awhile and spent some time tearing away the grass that had encroached on the edges of the metal plaque bearing his son's name.

But all of these glimpses of his story that I photographed were small compared to the weight and immensity of Bernard's transformation. After years of anger, pain and hatred, he made a personal choice to no longer hate. He not only forgave his son's killer, he took action- speaking on his behalf at a parole hearing that led to the board granting an early release.

washington post magazine

I hope you'll take the time to read Karen's story about Bernard here.

washington post magazine
washington post magazine

Tax Season Cometh

We're in full tax return-finishing mode here, wondering if Spring will ever actually come and working out a lighting setup for a portrait series later this week that will include photographing, among many others, the greatest war photographer of the past thirty years. Suffice to say, it's been a busy and somewhat hectic week.

The postman delivered the results of a busy week in December, when I shot six portraits over a three day period, running around town with the full lighting kit and trying to get as much out of my five minute allotments as possible. Poder's Black Book is sort of a who's-who of prominent Hispanic leaders around the country. My shoots included recent Obama Administration appointees, the Mexican Ambassador to the US and the President of the IDB. The subjects were uniformly gracious and open to carrying out various concepts of being "in motion", the theme for the entire book.

arturo valenzuela

Arturo Valenzuela, Director of Center of Latin American Studies at Georgetown

Cecilia Munoz

Cecila Muñoz Director of Intergovernmental Affairs for The White House

arturo sarukhan casamitjana

Arturo Sarukhan Casamitjana, Mexican Ambassador to the US

Dan Restrepo

Dan Restrepo, Senior Policy Advisor to President Obama

Janet Murguia

Janet Murguia, President of La Raza

luis alberto moreno

Luis Alberto Moreno, President of the Inter-American Development Bank

Tearsheet Friday

It's been a lovely week that began with snow and is ending with 70 degree weather and plans for an upcoming trip to New Orleans with my wonderful wife. A few tearsheets came in as well and as is my wont, I tried to work a few extra setups with each shoot which invariably leaves a lot of images on the cutting room floor. They'll serve as blog fodder, if nothing else.

richard shelby

Senator Richard Shelby for BusinessWeek

ari shapiro

Ari Shapiro for the Advocate

frankie trull

Biotech Lobbyist Frankie Trull for the Scientist

Tearsheet Wednesday Update


US Airways 1549 Survivor James Hanks Jr. for BusinessWeek