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Five Years & Counting!

Mystic GA Irwin County Ghost Town Abandoned Car Ashley Parrish Store Dirt Stree Film Photograph Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia 2008

Mystic, Georgia © Brian Brown, 2005.

Today marks the five-year anniversary of Vanishing South Georgia!

What began as a personal project has grown into something much greater than I would have ever imagined. In traveling thousands of miles through 82 counties and hundreds of towns of varying sizes, I believe I have been privileged to see a Georgia that few people get to experience in such depth. As I branched out from Ben Hill & Irwin Counties, I did search after search for little places with interesting names I’d found on the map. I knew most would be hard to track down, but one after another seemed lost and forgotten. Part of my mission, and one that remains central to this work, was to create a permanent record  of these places for researchers and people nostalgic for a glimpse of their roots. As a historian, I was very aware of the need to document them, but what made my work take wings, so to speak, was the early support and feedback from the people I began connecting with as a result of my photographs.

Mrs. Gay's Farmhouse on Waterloo Rebecca Road Irwin County GA Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2008

Mrs. Gay’s Place on the Waterloo-Rebecca Road, © Brian Brown, 2007

And I’m not the only one out here, doing work like this. When I began posting my images to the internet I found a small but determined community of people doing the same thing as me, albeit it on a different scale and usually with far more credentials as artists. Too countless to name are all the other Georgians, whether serious or just taking snapshots for the benefit of their own memories, who record history with their cameras. As Mark McDonald of the Georgia Trust for Historic recently said in an interview with GPB regarding the scope of the work, “…in historic preservation, if you can’t save a historic building, the last step is to document it.”  Tobacco barns, country stores, and farmhouses truly are vanishing every day and with them the way of life they represented and the stories of the lives built around them. Just this week I’ve heard from several subscribers of the demolition of places I’ve photographed. And I know these are important because people are always so sad to report this kind of news. I’m glad they do, though. As long as the need exists and I’m able, I’ll be out in the country with my camera.

Revival for Body and Soul Folk Art Church Sign Westwood GA Ben Hill County Picture Image Photograph © Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia 2008Revival for Body And Soul, Westwood, © Brian Brown, 2008

My work on Vanishing South Georgia saved me, in a way. It came at a time when my own life was in flux and when I seemed to be looking for something as yet unknown. It’s renewed my love for place and for the people whose lives define all the places I visit and photograph. I hope that it brings a little happiness to everyone who sees it. That, as much as the documentary aspect, is worth it.

Dirt Road Ben Hill County GA Picture Image Photograph © Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia 2010

Seminole Road, Ben Hill County © Brian Brown, 2010

In the meantime, look for me on a road like this…

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VSG Featured on Georgia Public Radio

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You can hear Jeanne Bonner’s interview with me about Vanishing South Georgia here. I was very honored to be featured.

From the GPB website (visit their site for the whole story):

“I use my camera as a preservation tool,” [Brown] said, holding his camera.

And that’s an invaluable service, says Mark McDonald of the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, a nonprofit that saves old buildings. Some historic structures, he says, will simply be lost.

“He’s documenting buildings that literally may not be here next week,” he said in an interview at his office in Atlanta. “So in historic preservation, if you can’t save a historic building, the last step is to document it.”

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-What People Are Saying-

The purpose of this photographic archive is to preserve what is left of the culture of rural South Georgia. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to document my small corner of the world. Every day, modernization threatens the very fabric of life that has persisted in South Georgia for the better part of two centuries. Tobacco barns, country stores, farmhouses, Confederate icons, African-American vernacular churches, rural schoolhouses and sharecropper shacks are all disappearing at an alarming rate. Because there is no real effort to preserve these structures and the culture they represent, I feel the only way to make them relevant is to share these photographs. I hope you’ll share this blog with as many people as you can. Brian Brown, 13.5.09

Please Use this Area to Leave General Comments on the Site.

I’m grateful for all the nice feedback!

    P. S. If your county or community isn’t represented, please be patient. I’ll get there!

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