Fall 2014
Manzanar & the Owens Valley
Brian Goodman


November 2014 / Manzanar and the Owens Valley


After a much longer than anticipated hiatus, I returned for a weekend stay in the beautiful Owens Valley of California, below the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and southeast of Yosemite National Park.


The highlight of my trip was returning to the Manzanar War Relocation Center, one of the ten Japanese internment camps established by the U.S. government following the attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II.


I had been to Manzanar several times over the years. It’s history and the human experience of the Japanese interns who were forced to stay there, has always affected me deeply, maybe because of my Jewish heritage and knowing the atrocities that were inflicted upon my own people during that same time period.


It has become a very important and personal project of mine to document Manzanar’s visual history from the time when it was a deserted national disgrace that the government had dismantled, abandoned and forgotten, to its recent resurgence in the public consciousness, and its formal declaration as a National Historic Site by the repentant US Government in March of 1992. On this visit, I had an incredible weekend expanding my repertoire of images of Manzanar and the surrounding area.


Recently, a selection of my Manzanar images received an Honorable Mention at the prestigious International Photography Awards in the “Deeper Perspective” category. This honor was especially rewarding and touching to me on a very deep personal level because of what this series represents.


“It continuously amazes me how few people know what Manzanar is or even that the U.S. government had sent 120,000 people, two thirds of whom were U.S. citizens, to these internment camps because of fear, misunderstanding, and intolerance. In this age of racial, sexual, and religious misunderstanding and intolerance, I believe that Manzanar is an example of what we as humans are capable of, even today. I hope to continue documenting the camp and look forward to the possibility of collaborating with the park in the future on a project to make the public more aware of its existence and its historical significance.” – Brian Goodman, October 2014