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A photo zine from a decade long project documenting Plato, Missouri – a small town at the exact center of the U.S. Population.
A photo zine from a decade long project documenting Plato, Missouri – a small town at the exact center of the U.S. Population.
61 backers pledged $1,400 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

Plato - The Town at the Exact Center of the U.S. Population project video thumbnail
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$1,400

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We reached our goal. Yea! Thank you so much. However, I want to encourage you to still back this project if you are interested in receiving a photo zine as there will only be as many printed as there are backers. -ben

WHAT I WANT TO CREATE

A new photo zine (a self-published photo book) of photographs from an upcoming week-long trip to Plato, Missouri from Sept. 30 - Oct. 7. The zine will include photographs and stories from the town at the exact center of the U.S. population.

The goal of this trip is to continue working on a larger, decade long project to document the small town of Plato, which sits atop the exact center of the U.S. population (based on the 2010 U.S. Census). I began this project in 2012 and plan to continue photographing until the completion of the 2020 U.S. Census.

Support from this Kickstarter campaign is critical to help make continued work on this project possible and will also provide the funding needed to produce a photo zine featuring the next chapter of this story. 

Infographic adapted from the census.gov
Infographic adapted from the census.gov

WHAT I NEED TO FUND

- Photo Zine. Design and production of the zine – to share Plato with you!

WHAT I ALREADY HAVE FUNDED

- Film. Already have the necessary film on hand. 
- Flight to Missouri. My flight has already been paid for.
- Accommodations in Plato. A member of the community is putting me up. 
- Film processing and scanning. I develop and scan my own film.
- Rental Car. I will pay for the rental car. 
- Living expenses. I will pay for my own living expenses.

Photographs from my 2012 trips to Plato.
Photographs from my 2012 trips to Plato.

MORE ABOUT THIS PROJECT & PLATO

When I discovered that the mean population center of the United States, calculated using census data, was only a couple hours drive from where I was living in Columbia, Missouri, I felt compelled to visit. 

This project explores what I found in Plato, Missouri—a rural town with a population of 109. Using the camera as a tool to both explore and document, this project aims to conduct a qualitative census of the town of Plato over the course of the decade between the 2010 and 2020 census. 

The mean population center is recalculated every ten years with each new census, thus making it both a distinguishing product of the population as well as a seemingly arbitrary spot that may or may not communicate anything interesting about America. Over the last two centuries it has slowly drifted westward and can be seen as the echo of manifest destiny. 

The photographs in this project result from a collision between my point of view and what I find in Plato, a rural community imbued with tradition. This collision forces me to examine how an arbitrary center embodies both the spirit and realities of America. I choose to focus my camera on seemingly momentless situations in an effort to make photographs absent of time. My goal is to explore both a local and universal understanding of America through the people and landscape of Plato, Missouri. 

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Video of U.S. Census Ceremony in Plato, Mo. from census.gov

REWARDS

- Polaroids from Plato. I will be shooting large format polaroids for every Kickstarter backer alongside the photographs I make for this project. Each polaroid is a unique, one of a kind photograph of which prints cannot be made. Each polaroid measures 3.25 x 4.25 inches. These polaroids are for you, my backers, to thank you for your support by sharing with you something unique from Plato and this project.

Polaroid Reward (3.25" x 4.25")
Polaroid Reward (3.25" x 4.25")

- The Photo Zine. The photo zine will be roughly 40-80 pages in length and feature a variety of work produced during this upcoming week-long trip. The final form of the photo zine is still to be determined, but it will be professionally and beautifully printed. 

"At the Center of the World" - Zine #1, 2013 (as an example of my previous Plato Zine)
"At the Center of the World" - Zine #1, 2013 (as an example of my previous Plato Zine)

- Prints from Plato. Two print sizes are offered: 10x10 and 18x18 inches. Backers will be able to select an image of their choice (from my 2012 photographs or this upcoming trip). All prints will be Digital C-Prints on Fuji or Kodak archival silver halide paper. These are not inkjet prints; they are photographic prints made with silver halide paper. These prints are in open editions and signed en verso.

Prints are available in two sizes: 18" x 18" and 10" x 10"
Prints are available in two sizes: 18" x 18" and 10" x 10"

ABOUT ME

My name is Ben Hoste and I am an independent, non-fiction photographer. I grew up in California but spent the last few years studying journalism at the University of Missouri and shooting projects in the rural midwest.

Most recently I completed work on a project called Good Earth: Missouri's Old Lead Belt, in which I documented the lasting legacy of over a century of lead mining in southeast Missouri. With this project I was specifically interested in what it means to live in a community that was established and defined by an industry that no longer exists.

I began photographing in Plato in 2012 and up to this point have visited the area half a dozen times. I plan to continue documenting the community until the completion of the 2020 U.S. Census. 

I am currently living in New York.

That's me, on the left, photographed by Plato resident Barbara Penley, pictured on the right. Barbara was born in Honolulu and at the age of 10 was grazed by a bullet during the attack on Pearl Harbor.
That's me, on the left, photographed by Plato resident Barbara Penley, pictured on the right. Barbara was born in Honolulu and at the age of 10 was grazed by a bullet during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is this whole Kickstarter thing?
Kickstarter is a crowd funding platform that allows individuals to raise money for creative projects. In other words: it's a way for creative types like me to safely and securely raise funds from individuals like you for our projects. You can read more about Kickstarter here or on Wikipedia.

How does Kickstarter work? 
If you want to support this project, simply click the green "Back this Project" button at the top right-hand side of this page. Funding is all or nothing, so if we don't reach our goal then no money changes hands. However, once we reach our goal, we will receive the funding for our project. 

Is my credit card safe?
All payments are processed by Amazon and are safe and secure.

When will I get my reward? And is shipping included?
Rewards will be mailed out once the photo zine has been produced. My current estimated completion date is December 2014. I will keep all backers updated with the status of this project, especially in regards to the delivery of their rewards. Domestic U.S. shipping is included. Please add the noted amount for international shipping.  

Photographs from my 2012 trips to Plato.
Photographs from my 2012 trips to Plato.

Risks and challenges

I am confident in my ability to complete this project because this is what I love to do.

Completing this project will require significant time and energy. I will spend a week photographing in Plato, and when I return home an estimated 35 rolls of film will need to be developed, scanned, and edited. Next, I will design the photo zine and send it to you.

If this Kickstarter is not funded I will still visit Plato. However, I won’t be able to produce this zine and share this project with you (and others) in as great of depth.

There is absolutely no risk that, with successful funding, this publication will not be produced or other pledge rewards will not be fulfilled.

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Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    The photo zine + a polaroid from Plato (made just for you).

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    20 backers
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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    The photo zine + a polaroid from Plato + a copy of Plato zine #1 from 2012.

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    24 backers
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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    A 10"x10" print of your choice + the photo zine + a polaroid from Plato + a copy of Plato zine #1 from 2012.

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    8 backers
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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Two 10"x10" prints of your choice + the photo zine + a polaroid from Plato + a copy of Plato zine #1 from 2012.

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    1 backer
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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $175 or more About $175

    An 18"x18" print of your choice + the photo zine + a polaroid from Plato + a copy of Plato zine #1 from 2012.

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    0 backers
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $350 or more About $350

    Two 18"x18" prints of your choice + the photo zine + a polaroid from Plato + a copy of Plato zine #1 from 2012.

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Funding period

- (14 days)