Photographer Interviews

Picture Story: Michael Williamson On His Approach to a Story About the Family That Harbored Dylann Roof

January 25, 2016

By David Walker

© Michael Williamson

The trailer where Roof lived with five other people and their three dogs, “too many people in a three-bedroom trailer,” says Williamson, who spent a week photographing the family. Williamson and writer Stephanie McCrummen found their narrative when they decided to think of the trailer as one of the characters in the story. Williamson boasts that he made this 2.5-second exposure without a tripod. “I held my breath with the camera mashed up against my face.”

Before Dylann Roof killed nine people at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina last June, he had showed off his gun, expressed his racism and intent to do “something crazy,” and dropped other hints of his troubling state of mind to the family that had taken him in. The question on the minds of investigators and journalists after...

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