Bette Ferguson is donating her brain to science. It’s true. Read about it in a fascinating story by Claire Trageser about Bette and others who are donating their brains to a University of California, San Diego researcher.

I photographed Bette in her Mission Hills apartment. The only view the reader got of her was the top of her head. I thought it was a good way to illustrate the story.

But Bette is a really intriguing woman, and I wanted readers to get a better opportunity to meet her.

Shortly after arriving at her apartment, she dove right into her history. She told me about her five husbands and her work as an extra on The Wizard of Oz.

Then, we got to the topic that fascinated me most — how she felt about her brain going to science.

I wondered how her family felt about it. She essentially told me it’s none of their business. I asked her if she was religious. She told me the question was moot.

She put it simply. When she dies, she’s not going to need her brain anymore, so she might as well give it to someone who will need it.

It was a heavy conversation, but Bette was open to talk about everything.

After I was done shooting photos, Bette and I sat down, and she asked me about myself. She poured me a glass of wine and we watched Bill O’Reilly. Bette was a genuine, warm person — and she had great light inside her apartment. It was everything needed to make nice portraits.

Please contact Sam Hodgson directly at or 619.550.5664 and follow him on Twitter:

Sam Hodgson is a freelance photojournalist and contributor to Voice of San Diego. You can contact him at and check out his work...

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