I worked with Joon Powell for a while when we were employed by a newspaper in North Carolina. We made the best of our inhospitable surroundings, generally finding humor in the most bleak and unprepossessing of situations. Coffee helped me forget I was no longer in London.
Working in rural North Carolina often involved driving long distances to talk to people who were frankly batty. You started to know how Napoleon felt marching all those thousands of miles only to be assailed by frost bite and the savagery of the Russian people.
Our first job was the Elizabeth City ghost walk. I tried not to mention it but there was a terrible smell in Joon’s car on the way back. We mentioned skunk – I just assumed it was her car in general.
However, when the smell followed me up the steps of the newspaper office to my desk I realized I must have stepped in the mother heap of all doggie doo doos.
So I ventured out alone into the wilds of North Carolina to meet a man who was living in his tent after his house burned down. With his rather frightening dogs and gun collection. What joy.
Joon later returned to gamely take portraits of the tent dweller who threatened to brew up some moonshine.
Joon, who now lives in Tennessee, has been involved in projects above and beyond the barking people I sent her out to meet.
She took portraits of those people who suffered from the reduction of elimination of their health care when the TennCare program was cut and specializes in pictures of weddings and babies.