Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Shake Rag Reed

The first story topic for the picture stories class this semester was community/religious leader. After about four days of non stop searching and calling places to find a story i grew a little anxious and decided to just wander around until i stumbled somewhere. I was driving around and i started to think of the kind of standards that a community encompasses. We tend to think of communities as towns, cities or even large groups of people. But a restaurant is a community, right? Well i thought so too so i wondered into a little diner called "Shake Rag Restaurant" The area of shake rag is a historic district in Bowling Green that is predominately African America that saw its peak during the civil rights movement, but is now mostly quite. I thought that whoever owns the only restaurant in this community must be a leader, so i walked in and met Reed, the owner. I spent a couple of days with him at his restaurant, but the real fun came wheni went to church with him. (Oh, did i mention he's a preacher). As you can probably guess, this white boy from the suburbs had never been to an all black southern Baptist Church before. ( I was raised Presbyterian and there is a reason they call them the "frozen chosen") But it was awesome. They really fill the church with song and spirit like i had never seen before. Being in there, it was hard not to feel the spirit a little too.

Anyways, here is a picture i liked of Reed teaching Sunday school class. He didn't preach this Sunday.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Old soul

I posted a portrait of James back in November, and i think i like this one more. Give me some feedback.

Monday, February 11, 2008


Late last week several tornadoes tore through the south and northern Tennessee/ southern Kentucky were hit pretty hard. Being that it was basically in our back yard, myself and a group of students set out to cover the destruction. I have to admit i have never been involved with anything of this magnitude before, or seen anything quite so powerful and i wasn't quite sure what to expect. I wasn't sure if we would be able to get access or if we would be kicked out. And even if we did get access, what would the community think of us showing up with cameras and audio equipment? Were we telling peoples stories, or just shooting for ourselves? I wrestled with this for a long time and decided to go anyway. We went to Lafayette, Tenn since it was said to be hit the hardest, and it looked more like a scene from Iraq than it did a quite rural town. Houses were wiped off their foundations and forests were bent over like hay, i had never seen anything like it and as i saw this i realized that no television broadcast could possible do it justice, it actually looked like Hell. As i got out of the car and walked down the street with my camera i had no idea what the people cleaning up the debris of their destroyed homes would think of me. As i walked past the first house, i waived to a man cleaning up some children's toys, and made the decision to keep walking. But then he yelled up to the road "Looks like it just polished her right off." He was referring to the fact that his home had been completely removed from its foundation as it God took a giant pencil eraser and wiped it clean. I took this as my opportunity to listen to his story and introduce myself. Without asking any questions or explaining anything he told me to take pictures of anything i wanted. I did. And I listened to him tell me about how he and his wife narrowly missed being crushed by the floor of their home. He told my he was waiting on his family to some over and bring some things. Figuring there would be some good moments, i asked if i could wait too, he said i could. The whole time i was there the family asked questions about me and school and photography. They offered me water and when a FEMA truck brought pizza by they practically tried to make us eat some saying that " you boys are working hard and need some food." After all they had been through, they thought WE were the ones working hard. Overall i stayed with his family for a couple of hours until it got dark, and the town was put on curfew. After it all was over i felt as though we were completely right about going down there. And even though i spent more time talking and listening than i did taking pictures i learned that not even a tornado can destroy southern hospitality.