My Jailed Women project was born as part of my Survivors project, but that idea was pretty much abandoned within a few minutes of sitting down with the jailed women. As a small town newspaper editor I had published many jailed woman's unflattering (to put it mildly) mug shot, often on the front page when it was a big meth bust. The publisher often enthused about how issues with mug shots were reliable best sellers, so I dutifully published all the mug shots I could. And as a photographer, I liked a lot of the pictures. Cheap digital camera's are very good these days and they put the women against a neutral gray painted concrete wall, so there was a lot to work with. Unflattering though they were, they often communicated interesting realities. But as I inevitably studied the photos and came to feel that publishing them, particularly on the front page, was a shitty assed shitty thing to do, I quit doing it. Still, I never stopped feeling bad about it.
That all came back to my when I met the jailed women and started working with them on how best to create photography with them. I wanted to somewhat make up for the horrible photos I published by giving them a beautiful photo, so I hit upon the idea of doing the glamour type shots. That, plus just getting them some time out of the cell to goof in front of the camera was a positive thing. And I gave them nice prints, which would be prestige objects in the jail. Some small good was done. The project continues, and will no doubt evolve.