Forest McMullin is a freelance photographer and photographic educator based in Atlanta, GA. He is known primarily for photographing fringe social groups and is respected for his ability to bring out their dignity while still showing them with directness and honesty. His photographs have been exhibited across the United States as well as in Paris and Beijing. His work is found in numerous public and private collections. Currently, he is a full-time Professor of Photography at the Savannah College of Art and Design’s Atlanta campus and delivers lectures and workshops around the US. In addition to teaching, he shoots his own work and consults. His consultations include portfolio development, marketing strategies, business planning, and equipment and technical advice. He works with individuals, businesses, and industry leaders.
In November and December 2016 I spent several weeks on the road, traveling through rural Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas. I stayed away from large highways and wandered wherever chance and whim took me. I used paper maps, not GPS and chose the roads I drove based on the width of the line (nothing too wide) and towns based on the size of font (nothing too large). I began by assuming this would be a portrait project, something of a follow-up to my American Flea, where I’d concentrate on the faces and environments that seemed emblematic of the region.
I stopped often to photograph and to talk to people, but I soon realized that the towns, landscapes, and buildings I passed shared a visual power that I was compelled to consider. It was clear that most places were struggling from shifts in the economy and moves away from family farming. Their best days were behind them, yet the spaces and surfaces of buildings and other public areas had qualities that fascinated me. They were graphic and often beautiful. The desolation of dead and dying vegetation from the time of year served to complement the lonely and often abandoned structures.
People I met were welcoming and open. They told me about their lives and were usually happy to be photographed. They were kind and enjoyed having someone like me take an interest in them. Most sent thank you notes after they received the prints of their portraits I sent. They often had suggestions about local landmarks and points of interest they thought I might like to see. I’m grateful to each of them.
Late Harvest documents my trip and this often overlooked part of the United States. It is my homage to my adopted home.
To view more of Forest McMullin’s work please visit his website.