As contest season winds down a couple more awards appeared on my desk at the Tribune.
My work covering polygamy last year was recognized by the Society of Professional Journalists Utah Headliners Chapter.
The judges said, “The photographer overcame so many challenges in telling this story. Nice images of a seldom-viewed subject.”
Very true. Working the polygamy beat has been very rewarding, as I’ve met so many interesting people on all sides of the issue. But it’s also been very frustrating because I can see the amazing photographs just out of my reach. If only I could get better access! To all of you who let us in and let me photograph at least some part of your lives, my deepest thanks.
Here is my winning essay, The Hidden Face of Polygamy:
Polygamist Kelly Fischer covers his face as he walks into the Kingman, Arizona courthouse facing charges of sex with a minor. Fischer, a follower of FLDS prophet Warren Jeffs, was found guilty and sentenced to six weeks in jail after fathering a child with his 16-year-old stepdaughter, who he had taken as a plural wife.
On the wall in polygamist Marvin Wyler’s Colorado City, Arizona home are portraits of his 34 children. Wyler was kicked out of Warren Jeffs’ FLDS Church and has since been trying to find his own spiritual path as an independent fundamentalist.
Polygamist Winston Blackmore (right) bids one of his children goodbye in the morning as one of his young wives leads others away. Some of Blackmore’s wives (he has an estimated fifteen to twenty wives) live in the motel-like building in the background, on a rural farm in Lister, British Columbia.
Elsie Blackmore picks dandelions on her family’s rural farm in Lister, British Columbia. Blackmore is one of nearly one-hundred children fathered by polygamist Winston Blackmore.
Maraya Blackmore covers her ears as her sister Sally Blackmore tunes an electric guitar during a rehearsal of the family rock band. With nearly one-hundred brothers and sisters, there is always an activity going on and someone to play with on the family farm in Lister, British Columbia.
Candice White, the second wife and widow of polygamist Gary White, is facing difficulties getting her share of her husband’s social security benefits for her children. As polygamy is illegal, wives taken after the first are wed in a spiritual marriage which is not legally binding. White’s children are Charlie Ann White (left, 11), Gary Ryan White (center, 7), and Kelly Elaine White (right, 13).
Young men from the polygamist community The Work, in Centennial Park, Arizona, spend two years of their lives serving the community in work missions. Families in the community take turns feeding large groups of these missionaries as they work construction or other jobs, help the needy, and do volunteer work.
Gary Engels, Mohave County’s Investigator, has been assigned to investigate crimes in the isolated polygamist community of Colorado City, Arizona. Engels faces an especially challenging law enforcement task in a closed community where nearly every resident refuses to talk to him, leaving him isolated and and worn down.
A large truck trailing Investigator Gary Engels’ every move is a show of intimidation by Warren Jeffs’ FLDS church security. Engels has been assigned to investigate crimes in the isolated polygamist community of Colorado City, Arizona and is also trying to locate the polygamist prophet Warren Jeffs, who was then on the FBI’s top ten most wanted list.
Handcuffed and flanked by Las Vegas Metro Police Department SWAT officers, FLDS prophet Warren Jeffs appeared before Judge James M. Bixler in the Clark County Regional Justice Center. Jeffs waived an extradition hearing, agreeing to be returned to Utah to face charges related to allegedly arranging an underage marriage. Jeffs is considered a prophet of God to his estimated 10,000 polygamist followers scattered throughout the North American continent.