University of North Carolina Press, in association with the Center for Documentary Studies, 2002.
Sodom Laurel Album takes its name from an isolated North Carolina mountain-hollow community of ramshackle homesteads, deteriorating barns, worn-out tobacco fields, and tough, “ordinary” people.
Rob Amberg could have breezed in for a photo-shoot, taken a few stereotypical or even romanticized shots of the poor and simple, and been on his way. Instead, he moved in, stayed for twenty-five years, and is still there. The result is a remarkably intimate portrait of plain people, who, through Amberg, become multidimensional and fascinating. Sodom Laurel Album is part picture album, part story-book told in the subjects’ own words coupled with Amberg’s insightful and sometimes humorous angle on this world and his role in it, and part music album—the “book” contains a fine CD with traditional songs authentically performed by residents of the community (mostly recorded by Emory University folklorist Allen Tullos in the 1970s).