I find myself pondering how curious it is that I would be called upon to document an organization and a group of people in Los Angeles that I had been keen to shoot when I lived there, but not until well after I moved back to D.C. I think that it is destiny and I think that Homeboy Industries, known above all else as a place for second chances, gave me a second chance with the city of angels.
I left LA under unfortunate circumstances and the mere sight of it on television afterward was enough to give me an anxiety attack. I had lived all over the world, but Los Angeles had always been “home.” The city of my birth, the city in which I thought I would settle down and live out my years was no longer home to me.
When Fast Company called me this winter and asked if I would be interested in shooting this story, I had told myself that the only circumstance under which I would ever return to LA would be to document its destruction. Earthquakes, fire, landslides- I wanted to watch it crumble and burn.
But I had forgotten about Homeboy Industries. When reminded and then given the opportunity to document it, I felt terrible that I had wished such things upon a city where real people live and love and die. There is another side to Los Angeles outside of Hollywood- it is a place full of real people, people who don’t bleach their teeth and other assorted body parts.
The people I met at Homeboy Industries were inspiring and heartbreaking and examples of the extremes of humanity. Over the course of four days, they realigned my skewed perspective and helped me to heal and open my heart to home again. It’s awfully maudlin of me and embarrassing to admit, really, but it’s true.
I found peace and I found redemption and I took these things with me.
Please do yourself a favor and read the story by Douglas McGray here. It’s a marvelous piece of long-form journalism that tells the Homeboy story so well.
Thank you to Leslie at Fast Company and to everyone at Homeboy Industries who showed me around, made me feel welcome, and shared their stories.