Paul Kwilecki is likely the best Georgia photographer you’ve never heard of. In my opinion, he’s the greatest native-born photographer in Georgia history. After selling his family’s hardware business in Bainbridge he took up photography full-time, but as a self-taught photographer he was often isolated from the larger art world. That proved to be a good thing, as this beautiful new book will attest. For nearly forty years he photographed the people and places of Decatur County and did so with an eye not turned on Georgia in such a grand way since the FSA photographers of the Great Depression. Though he published one book in his lifetime (Understandings: Photographs of Decatur County, Georgia; UNC Press, Chapel Hill, 1981) and had hoped to see this one to print before his death, One Place will go far in establishing his place not only in Georgia and Southern photography, but in the larger canon of American documentary work. I’m lucky to have briefly corresponded with Mr. Kwilecki before his death and he was a real gentleman, encouraging me to pursue my own passion for photography.
If you’re a fan of photography, you will want to purchase this book, or request it at your local library. Tom Rankin, who directs Duke University’s wonderful Center for Documentary Studies, edited the work and draws from his association with the photographer, as well as Kwilecki’s own descriptions of his work.