There are few places and occasions where I have to continually ask permission to photograph subjects. One place is a hospital where regulations require written permission from any patient that can be recognized in a photograph I hope to publish. Another one is a jail.
There aren’t many standard requirements for shooting photographs in a jail other that what the local jail director asks for. In Chelan County, the director wants to avoid trivial lawsuits so he requires permissions like a hospital.
I was there to document what the Chelan County Regional Justice Center is like for inmates and for jailers. It’s a pretty straightforward assignment once the contacts have been made and the day and time set.
One of the first interesting situations I saw to photograph was a security room near the booking area. Behind a heavy screen, jail crew were looking up at monitors watching as a recently booked man was in a holding cell taking an aggressive stance, ready to pounce on anyone opening his door.
I like this photograph because of how much the screen takes your attention. Usually I would avoid such a distraction but inside a jail, security measures are a big focus.
We took the elevator up some floors to begin cell checks for the day and the first room we entered behind heavily locked doors took us into a large room with individual cells. Prisoners were standing outside the doors for inspection. It was intimidating to enter the room and then ask prisoners for permission to photograph them but two inmates were OK with it. I got their permission before the inspection so I could photograph a jailer looking over their cells. It would be the lead photograph of the main story.
I think this photograph speaks to the distance jailers keep both physically and emotionally with inmates.
We walked down the long hallways toward other rooms behind locked doors, nearly all of them afterward were large cells without individual rooms. This made getting permission nearly impossible, so I centered my attention on the jailers.
The last cell we went to had been the scene of an assault the night before, so I tried showing the jailers together as a group as they asked questions.
A wonderful part of my job is to be able to show our readers parts of our community they normally wouldn’t see.