I was in college and I got a photo job at the beach. It was six or seven of us who took these little plastic pictures of people, and it was a great way to get a tan and meet women. However, I got screwed up by guilt because I got halfway through the summer and I was kind of leading this hedonistic lifestyle—I felt like I was using my camera for the wrong thing. So, I got in my car and I drove to Norfolk, Virginia, which is 16 miles away but it’s on the other side of the world culturally. I went into the ghetto and I thought, I gotta help these people.
I wanted to show what it’s like here, because the white people who live in my neighborhood in Virginia Beach—they don’t have any clue what this is like. And, right away, I met a family and stayed with them. I slept on their sofa and went to school with their kid. No white kids did that. I didn’t know how to do anything with my pictures, but I was able to publish this little book and we sold it for two bucks, took the money and gave it to the local church to buy food and clothes for the neighborhood. There’s only four left in existence, since we dumped most of them when I went off to grad school. I had no sense that someday that would become something.
—David Alan Harvey