It started in 2021 as I was rebuilding my life after a divorce. I met a wonderful woman, Leana, through an online dating site. Leana had grown up in a rural town in northern Missouri, and was now living in another small town off highway I-44.
It was a 280-mile commute to see the woman who would become my future wife. Along the way, I began to look around at the communities along that route. At first, it was because a single building or landscape caught my eye. But the more I shot, the more I began to dive more deeply into the people and the culture of these places.
I found myself noticing the differences between them and the experiences I had growing up in and around a big city. Through the lens of a camera, I learned to shed the urban context that was so familiar to me and begin to explore the culture that surrounded my future family. As an artist, my work has always resided in the space where documentation and fine art photography meet.
For this collection of images, I attempted to capture, in rough lines, the emotions I felt as I traveled through (and wandered about) rural Missouri and Arkansas between March and December 2021. I wanted to show honest and real portraits of the landscapes and the experiences in these small towns. To do this, I dove head-first into several of these communities, wanting to feature both the beautiful and the broken as they presented themselves in everyday life. When I photograph any community, I begin to understand their world a little better, and understand what makes us all “human.” Along the way, common themes emerge; it is impossible to explore these images and not discuss the issues of patriotism, poverty, entertainment, politics, religion, sexuality, commerce, and the way that the environment affects, and is affected by, all of these. My hope is that this collection can start those conversations with my viewers—and that they, too, would be drawn into understanding the life and culture of rural Americ