Photographs of Decatur County, Georgia
Understandings, Photographs of Decatur County, Georgia, Photographs by Paul Kwilecki, edited with an introduction by Alex Harris Published by UNC Press/CDS books, 1982
It is rare in American photography to find a major talent whose work is so firmly rooted in one place. For twenty years, Paul Kwilecki has worked with a quiet passion to photograph his home county in southwestern Georgia. His remarkable work portrays life in a small community as he sees it – sometimes intimately, sometimes satirically, but always with deep understanding.
With his camera Kwilecki reveals an extraordinary landscape, maping the variable streams of life in Decatur County and at the same time showing us the contours of his own complex vision. In the most ordinary circumstances – the supermarket, at a graduation ceremony, fishing along the river – Kwilecki sees the potential for mystery and meaning.
“This is important and courageous work on many levels. Kwilecki has stepped away from the everydayness of his own life, while scrutinizing that life very closely. He has spent over twenty years taking a deep look at both his community and himself. He has risked being misunderstood at home and elsewhere: at home for appearing more than a little eccentric in his wanderings with a camera, and outside of Decatur County for seeming a small-town or strictly regional photographer. The best southern writers have shown us that through the vernacular one can evoke the region and the country as a whole. Kwilecki knows this as well.”
– Alex Harris from the introduction