In 1982, I went to the Missouri State Fair—the first time since going once as a child. I took my recently acquired Siciliano, a medium-format range-finder camera. I’d just purchased it from a friend of a friend, who’d been traveling around the country using it to photograph Elvis impersonators, and I was excited to try it out. My favorite picture from that day was of a man selling roasted peanuts. The peanuts were in a giant wooden barrel painted black, white and orange—just like the five-feet-tall hand-painted signs that surrounded his concession. A large orange and white umbrella protected him and his wife from the August sun. I also photographed a cattle show in the fairground’s Coliseum. Built in 1906, the building’s rows of elaborate bent-wood benches were unlike anything I’d ever seen. All day I watched people enjoying themselves and noticed that a lot of them had cameras and were also taking pictures; that made it more pleasant somehow. 

In high school, and for a while in college, I thought about becoming a journalist. When I go to a fair, a parade or some other social event, I like to think of what I’m doing as a kind of reporting, acquiring details. But unlike a reporter I have neither an editor, nor a deadline.