There are certain places you must see for yourself to have better understanding of a culture and people.
Through his Kodachrome images, photographer William Christenberry is somehow able to take you to places you’ve never been and give you insight on people you’ve never encountered. He tells beautiful (sometimes forlorn) tales spanning five decades in the rural South. Shot with 35mm Kodachrome slide film, the photographs feature white-clad churches, brick facades, overgrown landscapes, and rusted signage; they focus on rural locations, rather than individuals, but still manage to depict the humanness of the locales.
Through his lens, and in color, he renders the Southern vernacular the way I remember it growing up- with truth and a genuine grace, and slow to change. His simple shots speak wonders.
These images chronicle Christenberry’s hometown of Hale County, Alabama, and other parts of the American South.
Sometimes there is a struggle to find truth in an image. Without a doubt, Christenberry captures it with haunting, alluring realism.
If you are from the South – or most any rural area – you will recognize that truth in his work.
We’ve visited (and revisited) Hale County on our blog through the iconic Walker Evans, who was a source of inspiration for Christenberry, Samuel Mockbee’s Rural Studio, and ProjectM’s PieLab. More than likely, we will make the physical journey again soon and set our sights on the slowly changing landscape, in color. I see my Small House fitting right in here.