Issue 177, Summer 2006
Will Steacy began visiting New Orleans last September, a few weeks after Hurricane Katrina burst the levee and flooded the city. He had expected to see devastation, yet it surprised him to find so much of the city deserted. Then he began finding people: a married couple here, a policeman there, a schoolgirl, a father and child. These people were neither alive nor dead—they were people in photographs, the sort of ordinary Polaroids and snapshots that everyone keeps. The pictures had been washed around in the flood, and the waters had damaged them, blurring and staining them and transforming them from one form of memory to another. Steacy began photographing the photographs he found, fascinated by their scars and displacements. At times, he says, he thought this must be what it would be like to photograph ghosts.