Thai Cockfighting I began by taking photos of a basket covered by some brightly colored fabric. I could see the lines of the basket and the faint silhouette of a fighting chicken. Then to my surprise, a man reached over and pulled the covering away. He was proud, and wanted to show off his prize. There are practices abhorrent to most people, cockfighting being one of them. The sport is largely banned throughout Europe and much of the United States. To those who do support the sport, the presence of a camera wielding outsider may still not be a friendly sight. So it was with trepidation that I first began photographing a cockfight in rural Thailand as part of a larger story about endangered fishing cats. Cats are often killed for preying on chickens, prizefighting chickens that are worth a lot of money. Before I knew it, rather than being bullied out of the area, men were shouting and waving for me to get in the ring. In Thailand, the cockfight is something that is culturally acceptable to many. It is a "king's" sport taken up by the common man. And in Thailand, there is a movement to legitimize the sport, using a stricter referee system and banning knives, razors and other modified blades from being strapped to the chickens' feet. There are rituals for preparation and lineages to protect. There is even a cockfighting "Olympics" in Southeast Asia that draws fighters and fans from around the world. I will never come to accept a sport like this as something justifiable. I found myself doing my best to block my emotions as I documented the events unfolding before me. The people I met were not mean or evil. They seemed normal. They did not see what they were doing as something wrong. Shooting this cockfight taught me valuable lessons about photographing the story for a bigger purpose and remaining open to a culture different from my own. If I had judged, I would not be welcome, and sometimes that is more important than how I feel.