Last summer, I made a pilgrimage of sorts to a place I’d seen in a movie. I caught half of Bill Maher’s “Religulous” and saw a scene in which he interviews a man who plays Jesus at a theme park in Orlando called the Holy Land Experience. I was stupefied that such a place existed, not too far away, at that. I had to go.
I drove down, bought a ticket and spent the day wandering the park and taking pictures. Yeah, it was a little strange- but only because I wasn’t raised in that world. Besides, I find most things in this world a little strange. I was visiting as an outsider, and realized that I needed to treat everyone there with the same respect that I would treat anyone of a different culture. Their world was fascinating to me and they were kind enough to let me in and take pictures. I took communion in a Last Supper re-enactment (twice), was prayed for by a very nice concessions stand lady for at least 5 minutes, and I met a woman who I witnessed lapse into a trance and speak in tongues and howl like a demon. It was all very wonderful, but I showed up too late in the day and missed the re-enactment of the crucifixion. I had to move on to another stop on my road trip, but I promised myself I’d go back someday.
Since joining Redux Pictures as a contributing photographer, I’ve been encouraged to work on personal projects. Seeing as this one was almost done, except for the crucifixion, they suggested I go down and just finish it. I booked my ticket in January and spent 2 days last month finishing what I started there. It’s not really some objective documentary piece. It’s my personal Holy Land Experience. These are the things I saw when I was there as a tourist trying to gain a better understanding of the world around me. I saw men dressed as Roman soldiers pretending to nail another man to a cross and I was disturbed. I saw visitors to the park openly weeping at the sight and I was sad. I saw dinosaurs and scale models and people who can sing and dance well enough to be on Broadway and I was entertained. My only regret is not buying a t-shirt while I was there.
You can see a loose edit here on the Redux website.