Harry, New Grand Chain, IL 2009

Harry, New Grand Chain, IL 2009

When Harry was 21 he killed a man in self-defense. He spent four years in prison because he emptied all six rounds of his handgun into his attacker. The victims mother petitioned the Govenor for clemancy and he granted Harry's release. The playboy tatoo covers the knife wound where his attacker stabbed him, narrowly missing his heart by a fraction of an inch.

Joe, Hitch-hiker from Michigan to Central Illinois 2005

Joe, Hitch-hiker from Michigan to Central Illinois 2005

Joe was hitch-hiking to meet his biological father who he had never met. During the summer he works as a carney worker, and in the winter he lives from the SSI checks his disabled wife receives from the state.

Tina & Shelley, Garden of Eden, IL 2007

Tina & Shelley, Garden of Eden, IL 2007

Jack Winnett, Westfield, IL 2006

Jack Winnett, Westfield, IL 2006

Jack was mentally challenged. After being bit by a mosquito as a baby, he contracted encephalitis which affected his mental capacity. He lives with his father in a mobile home on their 40 acre salvage yard. Jack is what's medically known as a calendar savant. After asking me when my birthday was, he immediately told me I had 232 days until my next birthday. He was right.

Nikki & Ian, Pleasant Hill, IL 2008

Nikki & Ian, Pleasant Hill, IL 2008

A young mother with her son who had just gotten his first haircut.

Doris, Covell, Il 2007

Doris, Covell, Il 2007

Doris was 90 and a life long Illinois farmer's wife who had six children.

Amber, East Moline, IL 2009

Amber, East Moline, IL 2009

Amber is a thirteen year old who was expelled from school for fighting. She was leaving the following week for nine months to attend a state run boarding school for troubled and at risk teens.

Verda with Her Yard Art, Claytonville, IL 2007

Verda with Her Yard Art, Claytonville, IL 2007

Christy, People's Cafe, Farmer City, IL 2007

Christy, People's Cafe, Farmer City, IL 2007

Jamey, Hindsboro, IL 2007

Jamey, Hindsboro, IL 2007

Mother and Child, Rantoul, IL 2007

Mother and Child, Rantoul, IL 2007

Man with Mask at a Paintball Tournament, Funks Grove, IL 2007

Man with Mask at a Paintball Tournament, Funks Grove, IL 2007

Chuck, Matteson, IL 2009

Chuck, Matteson, IL 2009

Chuck is a school teacher during the week and supplemented his income as a part-time security guard on the weekends. He was guarding a partically finished housing development that had fallen into receivership.

Dan, Savanna, IL 2009

Dan, Savanna, IL 2009

Dan has been a drifter since 1992. I picked him up in the pouring rain and gave him a ride for a few hours while traveling south. He talked very convincingly about avionics, covert CIA ops, gamma rays, and hypnosis, but when he said that outer space was only three miles above the surface of the earth I began to have my doubts. I bought him a set of dry clothes and a new waterproof coat at a resale shop, got him a room for the night in a motel, gave him 20 bucks and wished him well.

Pam & Chuck, Drive-In Theatre Caretakers, Gibson City, IL 2008

Pam & Chuck, Drive-In Theatre Caretakers, Gibson City, IL 2008

Alyene, Nick, and Nicolle, New Grand Chain, IL 2009

Alyene, Nick, and Nicolle, New Grand Chain, IL 2009

Nick, Alyene, and Nicolle were living in a SRO (single room occupancy) apartment on state and government assistance of about $400 per month. They're looking for work but are unable to afford a car and live miles from the nearest big town, making their prospects for finding work slim.

Anthony with Tip Toe, Streator, IL 2007

Anthony with Tip Toe, Streator, IL 2007

Anthony was a high school dropout. His mother kicked him out of the house forcing him to stay at friends houses for a few days at a time. A friend gave him Tip Toe the rat for companionship.

Louie Pearse, Taxidermist, Kane, IL 2008

Louie Pearse, Taxidermist, Kane, IL 2008

Louie is one of Illinois most awarded taxidermists, winning more blue ribbons and first place prizes than any other competitor in his field.

Mary, Waitress in a Small Cafe, Rockford, IL 2005

Mary, Waitress in a Small Cafe, Rockford, IL 2005

Butch and Wiley, Gulfport, IL 2008

Butch and Wiley, Gulfport, IL 2008

Butch's house sits on stilts 14 feet above the Mississippi river. During the flood of 2008 the river crested within 2 inches of his doorstep before it began to recede.

Larry, Nebo, Illinois 2009

Larry, Nebo, Illinois 2009

Doris and White Cloud, Watseka, IL 2010

Doris and White Cloud, Watseka, IL 2010

Dustin, Bardolph, IL 2008

Dustin, Bardolph, IL 2008

Tyler, Eldred, IL 2008

Tyler, Eldred, IL 2008

Steven, Colfax, IL 2007

Steven, Colfax, IL 2007

Steven, with his wife and family, moved to Colfax to start a new life. He loved to cook, so he opened up a local barbecue in town and invested his life savings. The locals regarded him as an outsider and gave him little support and within a year he had to close the restaurant. His future remains uncertain.

Robert, Cairo, IL 2009

Robert, Cairo, IL 2009

Robert is mentally challenged and lives in a city community center. He was scouring the streets for aluminum cans to take back to the center for recycling. His demeanor was wonderfully inquisitive.

James, Near Greenfield, IL 2009

James, Near Greenfield, IL 2009

James had recently been layed off from his factory job. Then his landlord kicked him out of his apartment. After living with his physically disabled girlfriend for a month, she threw him out, while at the same time stealing his cell phone and selling it for ten dollars. Broke and homeless he was traveling to his cousins place who had no knowledge of his arrival. James was 26.

Vergie, Cairo, IL 2009

Vergie, Cairo, IL 2009

Vergie is the mother of three children. Her eldest son committed armed robbery in an attempt to be closer to his father who was already in prison.

Sarah with Her Daughter Shelby, Foosland, IL 2008

Sarah with Her Daughter Shelby, Foosland, IL 2008

Paul, Cairo, IL 2009

Paul, Cairo, IL 2009

Paul is standing on the very southern tip of the state where the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers converge. In fact, you can't get any further south than this in the northern states. Geographically, this spot is farther south than Richmond, Virginia, once the capital of the Confederate States during the Civil War. Though Illinois was a free slave state, it philosophically aligned itself with its southern neighbors more than its northern partners. Cairo, more than any other city in Illinois has suffered the most due to its long standing racial division.