25 November 2011

Photography: Of Kentucky

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Since I just spent the better part of a week down south, I thought I would make today's photography post southern related. I was searching for something to post about when I remembered a link that Tom sent to me about a photo essay featured in the New York Times called Of Kentucky. It features photography by Shelby Lee Adams (a good southern name, if I may say so myself) from the book Salt & Truth spotlighting the Kentucky countryside where his family resided for generations.

Then I had second thoughts. I’m a bit protective of the south and find that people who haven’t been there and experienced it for themselves typically don’t hold it in very high regard. Wherever I go, I’m always surprised at the general ignorance in people’s opinions of the South. Although you can’t deny the truths shown in this series of photographs (there it all is, documented in black and white) I’m hesitant to show this facet of southern life, lest I reinforce the stereotypes that so many harbor about southerners.

Then I read a quote from the book that changed my mind again. While I don't personally relate to the way of life shown in the photos, Adams says in the book, "when I was young I couldn't wait to leave Kentucky. Now I value every day when I return." I can certainly relate to a part of that statement. I didn't grow up waiting out the days to leave Alabama, but I certainly value every day that I get to spend there now.

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6 comments:

the spectator said...

I think most places have a stereotypical, dark side.

Stef / Diversions said...

Gorgeous. I hadn't come across the photographer before, thanks for the introduction :)

Emily, Ruby Slipper Journeys said...

Since I started reading blogs I have really wanted to go to the South, which had never occurred to me before. I can see how you would think that these photos reinforce stereotypes, but I think photographs of ordinary people anywhere would likely reinforce someones stereotypes. I live in Barcelona these days, and I often think that the people I see in caf├ęs and on the street look like they belong in a book or an old photograph, and then remind myself that what we look like has so little to do with what we are...

oops, bit of a ramble there. Very interesting photographs in any case.

kelsey louise said...

I'm from Kentucky, and just spent the holiday weekend back and forth between Louisville and my small hometown in the western part of the state. I only left in August to live in my first city, Richmond, VA, a lovely mix of urban life and the laid back south, and I've found it surprisingly easy to feel at home here. I agree and disagree with the photographer about my relationship with home. I think the real truth is, there's something special about any and every place, and of course there will always be a certain mysticism around where we come from. I think the trick to being happy anywhere is learning to find and appreciate what makes any place great (friends, good food, nice folks, etc. etc., whatever it may be for you). Anyhow, these photos are pretty neat, and could certainly be anyone from my hometown.

papercrow said...

these are brilliantly human, in love.

Tellurik Waves said...

Hello there ! very interesting blog indeed. As an ex professional photograph i'm in awe with vintage B&W and sepias photography.I'm searching for some specific pictures those shown at the end generic of a film with Steven Seagal FIRE UNDER something (in french MENACE TOXIQUE") it could be Dorothea Lange but i don't think so. These pictures are gorgeous . Thanks 4 an answer