I began photographing stories for my Ozark Life project after attending the Missouri Photo Workshop in 2017. Before that, I was almost solely documenting my family. After the workshop, I gained the confidence to start photographing my community. I realized that what we have here; the strong family histories and ties to the land, the daily life that revolves largely around the connection to the land, is unique. I began spending days with people I knew, asking if I could bring my camera along. That led to making more connections with people I didn't know as well, asking if I could spend time with them and bring my camera. Before I knew it, I had a solid base of images for this long term project and an ever growing drive to keep going, realizing that I was just at the tip of the iceberg, photographing the everyday lives of the people who call these Ozark hills home. Delving into the history of this area, there have been several photographers who've done this previously, my favorite being Townsend Godsey who documented the people of the Ozarks between the 1930s and 1950s. I find it fascinating how so much of what he photographed still goes on today, it might just look a little different because of modernization.
This project has been a way for me to connect and grow in my community. It's been a way to start conversations with people I would otherwise never have the courage to speak to. It's shown me the humanity that I am surrounded by. I have a passion to document the struggles, quirky moments, rites of passage, and daily grind as they look here in the Ozarks. I foresee this project continuing for at least 10 more years when my daughter will be a graduating senior in high school.