Last year Washington Post staff photojournalist Jahi Chikwendiu spent several days and nights documenting the scenes of protest and face-offs between law enforcement and local residents. A year later, Washington Post photojouralist Jabin Botsford retraced Chikwendiu’s steps and photographs to document the many ways the community of Ferguson has changed, and, in some cases, stayed the same. Both Chikwendiu and Botsford spoke to In Sight briefly on their individual experience of photographing a city whose events have helped spur a national conversation on law enforcement across the country.
In my coverage of the events in Ferguson after the shooting death of Michael Brown, I always reminded myself that coverage had to go beyond the theatrics of protest. The dramatic shows of protest that included chant-filled marches and cat-and-mouse games of chase between demonstrators and police couldn’t be ignored, but I worked to see and hear beyond the loudly squeaking wheels that seemed to draw much of the media’s attention. It was important for me to always ask myself about the underlying issues that led to protests and demonstrations in the first place. It was important to try to visually connect, sometimes symbolically, the daily theatrics of protest and the underlying matters that drove people to the streets. — Jahi Chikwendiu
For me, documenting Ferguson one year later was interesting because I had only seen the events play out in the news. Being on the ground seeing the same places where I had seen so much confrontation take place, and how that contrasted with how the city appears now was surreal at first. I enjoyed exploring the community and trying to find all of the places where Jahi’s photos were shot. It was enlightening to look at places through another photographer’s eye because we all see so differently. And even though I was doing my best to mimic his photos, I found myself with many different challenges. One of which is my height. I am 6-foot-5, and to get many of the perspectives right I had to hunch down to about 5-foot-10 or 5-foot-11. When I stopped, put my camera down, and took the time to really listen to the people in Ferguson, they welcomed me with open arms.– Jabin Botsford