Not long ago, I flew to Eureka, CA to photograph Pepper Smith for Glamour Magazine. Her story is almost impossible to comprehend. She was adopted at birth and then abducted at age 4. Now in her 40’s, she’s just relearning her true identity and reconnecting with her adoptive parents. The life that happened in between is the kind of stuff usually reserved for the big screen.
Her abductor was abusive and manipulative, and she kept Pepper under lock and key. In her teens, Pepper finally escaped and grew up on the streets with no identity, no social security, and no birth certificate. She worked odd jobs thanks to the few who believed her story. She battled drugs and abusive relationships, and somehow managed to press on. If your interested in reading more about how she reconnected with her adoptive parents, definitely pick up a copy of this month’s Glamour.
Pepper is a strong woman who is raising a teenage daughter and going back to school to earn a college degree.
This is the image that ran. Thanks to Brian, my PE, who always gives me some fascinating stories and people to photograph. Thanks to Jenny Verador for her great, as always, makeup and hair work. Thanks also to Kristian, my assistant, for enduring a pretty long day out in the cold rain.