- I hold my camera wrong
- My workflow is slow and antiquated
- Stop increments of 1/3rd confuse me
- I'm too critical of my own work
- I don't shoot enough


A worker removes the “Lance Armstrong” sign from a “24 Hour Fitness Lance Armstrong Sports Club” in Denver. Armstrong was a major fixture at this location, kicking off the grand opening in 2005, and giving lectures as recent as 2010. Inside the club, Lance Armstrong photographs and quotes decorated the walls. Olympic flags and bicycles hung from the ceiling. And accents were painted in Armstrong’s signature “Live Strong” yellow.

When I approached the man removing the sign, he simply said, “I guess he got in a little trouble”.

© Jason Paul Roberts

A few days ago I stopped by the temporary memorial site for the victims of the Aurora Theater shooting, only to find that it had been taken down. We all knew it would eventually happen. With the weather taking its toll on the memorial, some of us wondered why it didn’t happen earlier. Still, it was a strange feeling seeing the empty plot of land after spending so much time photographing the site.

For a month I visited the memorial almost every day. My intention was to document the strength and caring spirit of Aurora; I didn’t want my community to be defined by the actions of a lunatic. The first few days I spent most of my time photographing people. But as time went on, I found myself photographing the objects being left at the memorial, and not the people who left them. I realized that these pictures were far more intimate than the pictures of people I had made during the first few days.

Although I have posted a few images from the initial days after the shooting, I avoided posting pictures of the objects left behind. The truth is, I even avoided looking at them. The memorial was very fluid, from day to day objects would move from one area of the site to another, people would sign pieces, sometimes add to them, and unfortunately pieces would disappear.  So I wanted to approach each day fresh, as if I hadn’t photographed the site the day before.

Now that the memorial has been taken down, I feel as though I can start editing the photographs. I’m not exactly sure what I will do with them; my initial thought was to put them in a book. But what ever becomes of the photographs, my hope is that in some small way they can help the community.

© Jason Paul Roberts

Behind the “Boy With Toy Gun at Shooting Memorial” photo:

I had just finished speaking with friends of Micayla Medek, one of twelve people shot and killed at a theater in Aurora, Colorado. As her friends left the memorial site, a woman and young boy arrived.  I immediately noticed that the boy was wielding a realistic toy handgun. I thought to myself “how incredibly inappropriate” and walked toward them. It was then that I realized the woman was sobbing.

The boy ran around the memorial site with his toy pistol, stopping on occasion to check on his mother. At some point she began talking to someone on her mobile phone. As she read one of the tributes left by a previous visitor, the boy lifted his pistol and wrapped his arm around his crying mother. The moment was surreal.  

I let them be and made my pictures. After a few minutes they walked back to their car and left the site. No one confronted them during the few minutes they were there. Not really the place for confrontation I suppose.

© Jason Paul Roberts

Aurora theater shooting victim David Williams. David was shot in the hand when a gunman opened fire on the audience of Theater 9 at the midnight premier of “The Dark Knight Rises.” I met David hours after the shooting in a park near the theater, where members of the community gathered for a small vigil. Understandably he was still in shock; talking to anyone who would hear his story, looking for comfort. Like many of us in Colorado he moved here from somewhere else, Detroit, and he is wondering how such a horrific event could happen in the small city of Aurora.

© Jason Paul Roberts