“My Americana,” a long-term photography essay, is loosely based on the famous Robert Frank masterpiece “The Americans” which was photographed the year I was born. This personal essay documents places, people, events and gatherings which occur daily in the United States of America.
The genesis for this project came as I crossed our land over the course of the last three decades on assignments for newspapers, magazines and advertising clients, I was drawn to the simple daily happenings and oddities observed on the streets. Early on part of the reason was the continuous need to fill news space in the papers, but also as a journalist to provide readers with “slices of life” happening.This formative period also taught me to have my camera with me always!
As I’ve matured, re-devoted my career energies to “documentary” photography a new found interest in recording ordinary life evolved. I see many people continuing traditions, secular and non- secular, historical and whimsical. Take for example the eccentricities within this compilation,like youngsters choosing to use binoculars to look at other things, instead of Mount Rushmore. Or the family including Zombie, tattooed mother, and superhero outfitted youngsters at Niagara Falls. A ballerina in full stretch against a shop window in downtown Chicago.
The natural beauty of the country, a rainbow in a thunderstorm in Arches National Park, or the full moon setting over the Sonoran Desert in Arizona also draw my interest. Though my personal work is primarily in black and white (film or monochromatic digital files) color at times seems right for certain imagery. An example, contrasting use of color and black and white to record harvest in the Kansas heartland.
Backroads provide a wealth of stimulating environments to record my vision. The 15' (5 meters) Statue of Liberty, standing alone in a manicured field close to the state borders of Kentucky and Tennessee. And the completely absurd situation of a truck on blocks, a church and casino all is the same parking lot not a stone throw from the Little Big Horn National Park. Of course, I can not overlook what is happening in today in the country, so an Impeachment Rally in Los Angeles.
This project is in its third full year, I’ve driven over 25,000 miles, flown roughly 14,000 miles and produced approximately 125,000 images. Like the great essay Frank produced, I strive to create a contemporary view of the people which make this country. Small town football; homecoming in the Texas panhandle; Fourth of July in Montana; a Sunday service at the Dexter Avenue King First Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, which was ground zero for the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s and where Dr. Martin Luther King served as Pastor (1963-1967).
What defines this country? It is a question I often ask myself. Freedom, patriotism, the rights granted for expression in speech, choice of religious practice and opportunity for other nationals to become United States citizens (naturalization image) all seem to have naturally become undercurrents in my essays.
The photo essay has always been part of my creative endeavor. Many of the individual images within are from larger collections and essays. Ranching, farming, logging as well as rodeo, pow-wow or National Parks have imagery which make them self-standing. The selected 56 images here though contribute to a more expansive view.
Other contemporary issues to document showing the diversity of our people natives and immigrants with varied beliefs but all striving to call the USA their Americana.
Tucson, Arizona, USA