Life in the Heartland.There Will Be Tornadoes.
I tell myself I live in the Heartland.
It makes me happier than telling people I live in Oklahoma where so many bad things have happened.
The little Girl Scouts murdered at Camp Scott in 1977.
(Doris Denise was my age.)
Charlotte and Cinda, missing from the fairgrounds since 1981.
(They were both my age, too.)
Internment camps; the Bombing; tornadoes; poverty.
Female Incarceration. Silent pulpits.
Heartland is such a hopeful word. It reminds me of all the good things.
"If pictures have anything important to say to future generations, it's this:
I was here, I existed, I was young, I was happy,
and someone cared enough about me in this world to take my picture."
Sy Parrish, One Hour Photo, 2002
Why I Take Pictures
“So — people a thousand years from now —
this is the way we were
in the provinces north of New York
at the beginning of the twentieth century.
This is the way we were:
in our growing up
and in our marrying
and in our living and in our dying.”
— Thornton Wilder, Our Town, 1938
In addition to taking pictures of life in the Heartland, I collect vintage pictures — old snapshots, portraits, photographs, and 35 mm slides. I love to share them with readers here on the blog and on Facebook. Although I have relatively few pictures from my youth and childhood, I’m always looking to find myself — or at least my experiences — in other peoples’ photos. I cherish high-quality pictures from the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s that feature Gen-X subjects. For me, there will never be enough, for they exquisitely tell the story of our days and times. They contribute to this archive, which now represents about a decade of my life’s work. Click here to subscribe to the Daily Photo. I also post them on Facebook. Like the page.
What do our lives mean?
“We are making photographs to understand what our lives mean to us.” — Ralph Hattersley
"Adults who were hurt as children inevitably exhibit a peculiar strength, a profound inner wisdom, and a remarkable creativity and insight. Deep within them - just beneath the wound - lies a profound spiritual vitality, a quiet knowing, a way of perceiving what is beautiful, right, and true. Since their early experiences were so dark and painful, they have spent much of their lives in search of the gentleness, love, and peace they have only imagined in the privacy of their own hearts." ― Wayne Muller, Legacy of the Heart: The Spiritual Advantage of a Painful Childhood
Photo Essays | Life in the Heartland
Life in the Heartland is not for the faint of heart.
Picture of People, Places & Things I Love
I was born in East Los Angeles but have lived in the nation’s Heartland since I was nine years old. From Texas and Arkansas to Kansas and Oklahoma, the majority of my life has been spent in Flyover Country. My brother still lives in L.A. and he told me many years ago that many people on the east and west coasts dismiss people in flyover country. Their opinions, passions, pains, and stories are somehow less important because of geography.
Through my photography, I strive to tell those stories about life and those people and things that struggle to be seen and heard. As such, much of my work can be categorized as street photography. Also, candid photography.
I am a hobby photographer and the majority of my work is amateur. Nevertheless, many of my photos have been featured in some great magazines and on some wonderful websites. A picture I took of the Oklahoma Capitol was featured on CNN.
Mostly, I just love to take pictures of life in the Heartland, and that includes lots of pictures of the people and places I love.
Through street photography, I seek to tell stories that are familiar and ordinary.
“But the American Dream has a price tag on it. The cost changes depending on where you’re born and to whom, with what color skin and with how much money in your parents’ bank account. The poorer you are, the higher the price. You can pay an entire life in labor, it turns out, and have nothing to show for it. Less than nothing, even: debt, injury, abject need.”
― Sarah Smarsh, Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth, 2018
I like contradiction and irony in photographs. Sometimes, photos reveal what we don’t see in person, freezing a frame of life that is so brief it can’t be forgotten because it was never registered. Ultimately, irony and contradiction give us new perspectives on old stories and they help unravel misconceptions.
My work has appeared in The Oklahoman, Slice, CNN, Velocity, Oklahoma Today, and numerous professional websites including the U.S. Veterans Administration.
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Gordon Andrew says
Thanks for your awesome blog! I also think the Heartland is a special place and I am a born-in-’72-Xer.
Thank you, Gordon! I’m hoping to find some inspiration for writing and taking pictures, again, very soon. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a note.
Betsy Kristl says
Can’t help hearing Springsteen in my ears….
“Well, lights out tonight
Trouble in the heartland
Got a head on collision
Smashin’ in my guts, man
I’m caught in a cross fire
That I don’t understand…”
You know, he’s one of my favorites. Since 1981. It’s like his music has been playing in the background most of my life.