Our names are Tom & Jennifer and we’re traveling through the back roads of the Black Belt of Alabama this Summer to photograph its unique cultural, historical, and natural beauty. From its Native American history to the antebellum, from the Civil War to civil rights – the Black Belt of Alabama embodies the true South. Our goal is not to document tourist-driven, southern clichés but, instead, to document the true character that encompasses all that we love about Alabama. It's worth noting that we've previously collaborated on a 2005 photographic study of an abandoned “Creosote Creek” community in Tarrant, AL – from which two photos can be found in the "Photography" section below.
Inspired by the works of photographers William Christenberry & Walker Evans, Rural Studio founder Samuel Mockbee, and Let Us Now Praise Famous Men author, James Agee, we will be visiting small towns in many of the 17 counties, exploring their state and county roads – both dirt and paved, talking with residents, and documenting what we discover along the way. The funding for this project will pay for travel costs and supporter rewards as well as printing the book itself, shipping within the U.S., and more.
Contents of the 80-page, 8.5” x 11”, perfect-bound softcover book will feature fine art and editorial photography, shot digitally and on film, as well as liner notes, detailed captions and assorted ephemera picked up along the trip. Every book will be printed exclusively in full-color on beautiful, 60% post-consumer, chlorine-free, FSC Certified, Ancient Forest Friendly matte paper that was manufactured with electricity that’s offset with renewable energy certificates using soy and/or vegetable-based inks only. (Whew, that was a mouthful!)
• Tom is a published photographer, experienced designer and art director of 20 years, and respected teacher of typography, design and more at the Pennsylvania College of Art & Design. In addition to designing The Black Belt of Alabama, other book design credits include Samuel Mockbee and the Rural Studio: Community Architecture (Birmingham Museum of Art) and Eerie Von’s Misery Obscura (Dark Horse).
Before returning to live in his hometown of Lancaster, PA, Tom lived in New York City, Los Angeles, and Birmingham, AL between 1993-2008.
His work in both design and photography can be viewed online at Man Alive Creative as well as Tumblr.
• Jennifer was born and raised in Birmingham, AL while her family’s presence in Randolph County, Alabama dates back more than a century. Since 2007, she has run Sally Jane Vintage, a widely-recognized and influential vintage fashion blog and online store she launched while living in Los Angeles.
Although not an exact reflection of the work we're aiming to document in the Black Belt, here's a sampling of images taken in Alabama in the past. For more, please visit Tom's portfolio website here.
THE BLACK BELT OF ALABAMA MAP:
Risks and challenges
Naturally, what imagery will be captured cannot be predicted. Neither can the tornado-prone weather of Alabama. However, this is a project of passion that we will see through for both ourselves and its supporters. Our goal is to have this designed, printed, and in everyone’s homes before the holiday season begins in late-November.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Support this project
- (30 days)