After spending the morning at the Devil's Postpile, I was driving south on Hwy 395 thinking about how I might approach Manzanar. I was bemoaning the fact that I would arrive in the late afternoon so the Sierras would be backlit and I would not be able to use them as the dramatic backdrop that is so often seen. That would soon become a secondary consideration.
When I pulled into the main entrance, I noticed the historic entrance down at the far end of the site and headed that way. As I drove through the original entrance that "welcomed" all of the internees, I started to really see for the first time. Everything changed. Manzanar doesn't grab your attention, it grabs...you. Getting out and walking around, the spare desolation and the realization that this is real, just washes over you. As a very close friend said, "You look around and say to yourself, 'We did this?!'" We did.
I shot it in monochrome for all the obvious reasons, but I also did it out of respect somehow. I thought of my high school classmates whose parents and grandparents had their lives changed forever when they were uprooted and taken from their homes. And, of my upperclassmen friends who had been born in the internment camps. I originally thought I would never need the hour and a half I had allotted for the visit, and yet, it flew by in an instant. I stopped shooting when I finally realized the sun had gone down. In an odd way, I don't think I have ever had a more sincere, and uniquely pleasurable photographic experience.