South of Here: Photographs of Louisiana and The Gulf Coast
Hi, my name is Wesley Ham and I am a photographer and teacher based in Brooklyn, New York. I was born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and have been working on a photography and video project there for the last 8 months. I have been traveling back and forth from New York to New Orleans almost every month since November 2011. In order to concentrate and photograph more intensely, I will be traveling to South Louisiana for an entire month. I have invested a lot of time into making this project and so far I have been self-funded. With a little help from you I will be able to finish my project!
My long-term project South of Here is an attempt to capture and preserve images from the unique place of South Louisiana. I seek out the landscapes that on one hand defined my childhood and on the other represent the uniqueness of Louisiana. With the thought of the Gulf of Mexico constantly creeping inland while the coast moves inches into the sea every year, the memory of these places is under threat. I am also interested in how the southern landscape shapes people and how they come to define themselves by it. In this project I turn my camera on friends and family as well as on strangers. I am attempting to make portraits that reveal something about the people that define Louisiana and it’s culture. Through the use of the camera I meet people that I might not meet otherwise, and I use the act of photographing as a tool to get to know people and their stories.
In this searching out of people and their stories in the last year I met Terry Lang, a musician known as Baton Rouge Bucketman. Terry lives under a bridge known as the Perkins Road Overpass. I have begun work on a film in tandem with photographs that explores the place that Terry calls home and how he feels about his environment. Terry gives insight into the passion that drives his music and performs some of his staple numbers for the camera. In August and September I will be returning to Baton Rouge to continue work on this film, investigating the complexities of a man living under a bridge who has passion for music, and is full of hope about life. You can watch a trailer to the film Overpass here. The film is a collaboration between Terry and I and a lot of time is needed to capture the footage that tells his real story.
In continuing to work on this project I hope to finish working on Overpass and to create and publish a book of photographs. In August and September I will travel to South Louisiana in order to spend more time with Terry Lang and to photograph intensely for a month. In that time, with New Orleans as my home base, I plan to make short trips along the Gulf Coast to photograph from Mobile, Alabama to Houston, Texas. My family has been dispersed across the Gulf Coast for over the last two decades and I plan to travel and make portraits of my extended family and the towns they live in. What I hope to do is to create and preserve my own personal narrative as it relates to Southern Louisiana and the Gulf Coast. In doing this I also hope to tell the personal narratives of those I meet along the way, like Terry Lang. And it is through personal histories that a cultural history is created and preserved.
How I Will Use the Money
Support from this Kickstarter campaign will directly fund my month long trip to Louisiana in August/September, covering travel expenses such as car rentals, gas and some lodging (hopefully some friends and family will put me up!). In addition to basic travel costs I will use the funding to pay for all film and processing costs and additional video rental equipment. I shoot with a medium format film camera and as we all know film is getting expensive!! Any additional money raised will go directly into any other project expenses.
When I return to Brooklyn, I will begin to process and edit my work. Combined with the work I have already done I plan to put together a book of photographs for self publication. With the video footage I capture I will finish editing the film about Terry and then submit it to film festivals. I also envision my photographs to be in a gallery space and with your help all of this could happen!!
Thank you for taking the time to look at this.
Please check out my website for more of my work: wesleyham.com
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