April—Deep South

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April—Deep South

by Phillip Goetzinger
Southern Cultures, Vol. 9, No. 4: Winter 2003

"This amazing scenario—this land in flux—was the impetus for my journey south."

Before taking these photographs I had read an essay on how several decades ago the Atchafalaya and Mississippi rivers bent close enough to one another in Louisiana that they united. The Atchafalaya, being the lower of the two, took on the bulk of the flow, a distressing development for life on the Mississippi in lower Louisiana. The Army Corps of Engineers severed the union, but this amazing scenario—this land in flux—was the impetus for my journey south.

I began photographing the area by thinking “landscapes” and how to render the vitality of the subjects I encountered—encounters that were to be brief, unfamiliar, and unexpected. For three and a half weeks I shot large-format negatives sensitive to the quality of light. As my path through the Deep South unfolded, I felt that these photos should be more about reality than representation. These are real living places caught for a moment between changes. It only became apparent in printing that my approach often placed the camera and subject close to one another. The frame filled with what I focused on, and I can only suggest that this environment allows this sort of intimacy. As a result I believe these images feel more like portraits than landscapes. I prefer to call them invocations of time and place.