By 1982, I had moved into my house in the Mahncke Park neighborhood. I had set up a darkroom and studio in one half of the house, and I lived in the other. I had plans for the building in the back, but in 1982, it was still a mess. So my living room was my studio.
We were doing a lot of custom lab work, developing and printing black and white film. Commercial assignments were starting to come in from a variety of clients, and we were asked to do a pro bono shoot to help a small agency with a spec campaign for a client that was marketing t-shirts in a can. At that time, there were many friends coming and going. I had Gary Perkins working with me, and hired his girlfriend Angie and her sister Leslie to help with special projects. There was no budget for talent, so we looked to friends for models. Leslie volunteered her two little girls – Meloni, age 5, and Jennifer, age 3.
The shoot was planned for early morning. The night before, while Leslie wasn’t looking, Meloni cut her little sister’s hair with scissors. When they arrived for the early morning shoot, I noticed that Jennifer was upset and her hair was all slicked back. I tried to reassure Jennifer, telling her she looked pretty and the pictures would come out just fine. Jennifer wasn’t happy, and just as I started to shoot, she put her hand in front of her face and I happened to catch this image. I am not sure what happened to the other shots we took that day, but this photo was so poignant, I put it in my portfolio immediately. Over the years, it has always brought a strong reaction as people immediately recognize a distressed little one and sympathize with her situation.