We all have different reasons for why pictures resonate with us. Sometimes those reasons are easily defined and sometimes it’s a bit of a mystery. As a photographer and as someone who spends a good deal of time looking at photographs, one of the most beautiful qualities of a picture is its ability to offer me something familiar without necessarily having a direct connection to the subject, something I can’t quite put my finger on that keeps me coming back.
Sarah Hoskins‘ dynamic photographs offer us a look into something familiar, where there exists an established, poetic intimacy. Though the people in these photographs aren’t familiar to me, I recognize the intimacy, the humanity. We are inundated with pictures today that attempt to photograph humanity, yet lack a true sense of humanity behind the camera (and in the distribution of the pictures once made). There is something to be said for commitment to long form projects like Hoskins’.
Trust is something that is established and maintained over time. Cultivated. Appalachia has historically been misrepresented, as have African-Americans. When you combine these two truths, it would seem as if the deck is stacked against anyone trying to make serious work here (rightfully so), yet Hoskins connected and she stayed. This is what the process of staying, sticking around, of not taking looks like. There is making and sharing and returning to make and share again. She is not asking for vulnerability without offering her own. For me, this negates the question of whether or not an outsider can truly document a community not their own.
As Hoskins and I spoke by phone again a few days ago, she was baking cookies – eight dozen, in fact – in preparation for a road trip back to Kentucky to attend a wedding of someone in the communities she’s photographed for years. Her entire family was invited to share in this special day with what’s become her extended family, her community.
Capturing these images on film is a testament to the pace and cadence of her work. She told me she has about one percent of her images edited and printed, which means what we’ve seen thus far barely scratches the surface of the work she’s compiled. Like the lasting friendships Hoskins has built for more than a decade, these photographs will stand as a testament to the love and strength of a Homeplace I hope we all are fortunate enough to find.
Stay tuned for details on how you can win a set of signed postcards from Sarah Hoskins.
All photographs © Sarah Hoskins.
1. Farrier Duane, 2012.
2. House of History, 2004.
3. Kayla’s Baptism, 2010.
4. New Car, New Zion, 2010.
5. Miss Margaret Raglin, Zion Hill, 2009.
6. Ironing Curtains, 2009.
7. Mac, 2006.
8. Family Reunion, 2003.
9. Apples and Basket, 2004.
10. Homecoming, 2003.
11. Lydia at 100, 2006.
12. Walker Sisters, 2012.
13. Window View, 2003.
14. Richard Hughes, First Annual Zion Hill Days, Zion Hill, 2007.
15. Merytle B on her way to church, 2011.
- Looking at Appalachia | 50 Years After the War on Poverty
- The West Virginia Water Crisis for The Guardian
- My Favorite Photobook Buys of 2013
- Holler Ghosts, Bookmaking, and Such
- Holiday Giveway
- Looking at Appalachia | Susan May Tell
- Imagining Appalachia
- Looking at Appalachia | Jeff Rich
- Looking at Appalachia | Hunter Barnes
- Looking at Appalachia | Tammy Mercure