In 1986 Ben Tukufu was a street counselor for the city of San Diego. A product of the mean streets of West Philadelphia, he had seem more than his share of drug related crime and violence before coming to San Diego. The story about him was a cover story for the ”San Diego Reader“ newspaper and every cover story needed a cover photograph.

   50,000 readers would see the portrait of Ben on Thursday morning and I wanted to make a photograph which would suggest the nature of crime and violence which he was fighting on the East side of San Diego.

Ben Tukufu, Street Counselor

Ben Tukufu, Street Counselor


   The asymmetrical design I used created tension in the frame and brought attention to his police-like mug shot. Tukufu’s profile became figure against a ground of graffiti.

   I chose a camera format which made square negatives and a primary design shape. The camera was placed on a tripod so I could work with the subject while carefully composing. A portable diffused electronic flash illuminated his profile from the right side of the frame. A telephoto lens was selected for use on the camera so that his profile and the graffiti background would compress together.

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