Recently, as part of our Clapboard House's endeavor to discover and showcase those visual artists that capture the bucolic beauty, rustic regality, and humble history of our inspiring world, we sat down with South Georgia photographer Brian Brown. He talks about his passions, what intrigues him, and that, when it comes to art, wether written or visual, imagination plays a key role in the manifestation of the artist's vision.
Perhaps some of Brian's work will spark the ember of story within you. We hope you enjoy the first of many such spotlights to come.
CH: When did you realize that you wanted to pursue photography?
BB: When I returned to South Georgia from Atlanta in 2008 I began to notice a large number of familiar structures disappearing. Some of my favorite places were already lost and I realized that a camera would be the best way to preserve the memory of those that remained.
CH: What is your favorite subject for your photos? (ghost towns, houses, vernacular architecture, etc)
BB: My interest in vernacular architecture relates to my family background. Most of my ancestors were small farmers and the structures that interest me most are the kinds of places I imagine they would have lived in at one time.
CH: How many cities have you photographed?
BB: I've photographed every county south of the Fall Line; there are probably 300 or so towns. Many are ghost town that, while still on the map, often don't even have a sign announcing their presence. I lost count at two hundred.
CH: What's the best location you've ever photographed, or what was your favorite?
BB: I'm often asked to pick a favorite place, and I can never come up with a good answer. I make a new discovery on almost every photography trip (2 or 3 times a month) that is a favorite until I find something new. That is one of the things I like best about what I do. A constant sense of discovery.
CH: What do you wish to accomplish with your photos?
BB: I hope to preserve places that have traditionally been marginalized yet make up the vast majority of our landscape.
CH: Where have you been published?
BB: My photographs have appeared in the Savannah Morning News, Ottawa Citizen, Grit, Tulane Review, Flycatcher, The Rambler, Red Booth Review, Clementine, Valdosta Magazine, and many others. I've done book covers for W. W. Norton, Leap Frog Press, Dancing Moon Press. *See http://vanishingsouthgeorgia.com/bio/ for more.
CH: What kind of camera(s) do you use?
BB: Various Nikons. I prefer the D90. I'm experimenting with Instagram but I'm not a big fan of the format. Still, it comes in handy when I'm traveling and have the need to share something immediately.
CH: How do you find your locations? (word of mouth, drive by, etc)
BB: Most of the places are located by simply driving down country roads and looking for the smallest of towns on maps, but as the website has grown, I get a lot of referrals. In fact, the site has grown so much that I'm often overwhelmed.
CH: What do you look for when choosing the ideal location?
BB: In my aesthetic, abandonment trumps perfection any day, but I certainly enjoy capturing local landmarks, as well. I prefer places that haven't been modified and I really like to find them standing at the edges of fields. But I don't really have a specific formula