Write about the land beneath your feet. —Eudora Welty
North Carolina has been my home and my subject since I moved to Raleigh from New Jersey in 1989. Ever since then I have traveled throughout the state making pictures.
In 2008, North Carolina was the third-fastest-growing state in the United States and the fastest-growing state east of the Mississippi River. The state finds itself at a turning point, losing its distinct characteristics to cookie-cutter franchise. As witness to an inevitable transition, I photograph to remember, not to romanticize.
Forty years after beginning, I continue to work in the tradition of straight photography, a tradition that embraces process and the unity of vision and craft. I am a black-and-white-film photographer. I use manual cameras with standard lenses. And I process film and make gelatin silver prints in my darkroom.
I learned about photography in three related ways: By photographing, of course. By looking at photographs and by listening closely to what others said about the medium—about the power of a photograph to make and leave an impression, about the dual (and often dueling) nature of the photograph itself. Is it a work of art? Is it a document? Dorothea Lange said that for a photograph to work both elements need to be present.
While I readily acknowledge the documentary aspect of my work, I am compelled to photograph by the visual aspects of a scene—geometry, beauty (especially when perceived in the un-beautiful) and the transforming power of light. Twenty-two years after arriving in the South, I continue to make pictures as an homage to home and to reflect my experience of this place.
- David Simonton
ABOUT the photographer
Born: 1953Lives in: Raleigh, North Carolina, USA
Inspiration (photographers): Ray K. Metzker, Lee Friedlander, Sylvia Plachy, Len Jenshel and many, many others.
Inspiration (other): Complex Geometry + Lovely Light
Film, digital or both: Film, Forever
Quote: When one takes a photograph, one doesn't think about making a statement, but rather about creating something visual which can later bear a meaning. The meaning of the photograph depends upon the viewer's interpretation, but not necessarily the photographer's. - Manuel Álvarez Bravo
David Simonton's North Carolina series is photography at its best. - Mr Urbano