This is a collection of photos I took while visiting my Father's side of the family in Pike County, south-east Kentucky near the small rural town of Elkhorn City in the summers of 2009 and 2011. Growing up, I never really knew what it was like to live outside of a city, let alone, having relatives from a place that's stereotyped as "hillbilly" country. Yet some stereotypes stand true as some of the poorest in the nation can be found living among the isolation of the vast Appalachian Mountain range. This is said to be the result of big coal companies manipulating local communities and a drug epidemic ruining families. Despite these odds, the locals are humble and hospitable to no end as they work hard and live independently supporting theirselves mostly on what they grow on their land. The rest of the population is a mix of well-educated land owners and a growing middle class demographic. The pictures on the left are of my grandparents, James and Helen-Jo Childers, photographing each other on an overlook in The Breaks State Park in 1954, considered the "Grand Canyon of the South" on the border with Virginia. This park preserves Appalachia's premier natural beauty from the constant changes that have threatened it since Daniel Boone first discovered the Cumberland Gap in 1767 near where Elkhorn City is today.
I'm a photographer and filmmaker living in Brooklyn, New York and a graduate of Pratt Institute. I've been shooting documentary and fine-art projects since 2005. I also work freelance shooting events, editorial assignments and portraits as well as directing photography or camera assisting on film productions. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested in hiring me or want to buy any of my images.