Since the early 1990’s I had been a street photographer. On February 12, 1997 I was out on the street, like I was on most days and I happened to notice people had smudges of ashes on their foreheads. That first encounter began this odyssey of photographing Ash Wednesday every year for twenty years. Early on it surprised me that people were so willing to be photographed. Even though I am used to photographing strangers, I felt a little apprehensive about asking them on Ash Wednesday because the ritual seemed so deeply personal and private to me. But most just agreed. In fact, they were upbeat.