The Long Lens blog: Photography with added snaps, art and culture

The photography site for sore eyes. Featuring: Art, photography, performance and theatre. With extra writing because I'm also a writer.

The Hands of God


The first batch of interviews have been completed for my remarkable book, Outsiders.

While I am keeping the identity of most of the subjects close to my chest, I can reveal that my latest interview took me to the land of America.

I spent some time with a man who is the leader of a church, commands respect, has incredible knowledge of the scriptures and who works tirelessly to spread the word of God around the world.

Sadly, Pope Benedict XVI, head of the Catholic church, turned down my offer to be interviewed and photographed.

But Fred Phelps, head of the Westboro Baptist Church, and his family did invite me round for the day to their home in Topeka, Kansas.

And I have to say that I’ve never had a day quite like it. As an all-American family they tick all the boxes. Loving, generous, warm, friendly, respectful. Their family life is as perfect as you can get. They are amazing.

The bit about everyone going to Hell for either being homosexual or being accepting of the practice is a bit hard to swallow. As is their policy of picketing funerals of pretty much anyone, no matter how tragic the death was because (they say) tragic death is God’s way of punishing fag lovers. But, apart from that, they were terrific.

The family are notorious for their picketing of funerals of dead American soldiers. You can discover their fairly forceful beliefs at and

I have several hours of taped interviews, plus a photographic documentary of their routine daily life of laughter, love and pickets in Topeka. I met them again in New York.

Interesting fact: Fred Phelps used to run marathons.


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