Chester Davis Judkins Jr. was a recovery worker at Ground Zero. As a maintenance and equipment manager, he battled the poor air quality that quickly clogged equipment engines the week following 9/11. He returned to Ground Zero several times, until he began to experience difficulty breathing. The air around him not only harmed the machinery he worked with, but also harmed his body. He had congestive heart failure at 48 years old.
He was my father. I slowly watched his body deteriorate. This came to a head in 2007 when he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a systemic cancer linked to exposure of toxic fumes in jet fuel. From that moment on, my lens focused on him.
Photographing my father was cathartic. I captured the progression of his illness, his daily confrontation with life and death, and the evolving complexity of his relationships. It allowed me to process and be present in his world.
My father passed away in 2013. These images are representative of not only him, but all 9/11 recovery workers and their families who have struggled and continue to struggle with illness. I now gravitate toward recording images that document struggle, recovery, and the ability to prevail.