The Men of Mingus Mill


Millers in early morning light

Men talking at Mingus Mill

You might have noticed that this image seems out-of-place given the current series that I am focusing on. And, you would be right. This shot was taken almost five years ago on a trip to western North Carolina in general and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park specifically. You might ask, why am I posting such an old image now? The answer to that very germane question, is that I submitted it to a local photography exhibit. There is more on that in a moment.

The image was taken in October of 2007. One of my daughters and I were in the mountains on a combination photography and daddy/daughter trip. I was shooting the interior of Mingus Mill. The mill is found on the eastern side of the park closest to Cherokee, NC. As I was photographing the beautiful machinery inside the mill, this scene unfolded behind me. The millers had opened for the morning and were chatting beside the pot-bellied stove in the corner. The morning light was illuminating them perfectly and I just couldn’t resist taking the shot. To be honest, I didn’t think much of it at the time and just kept on shooting.

At the end of the trip, I came upon the image and realized that it was kind of special. I don’t take many portraits, but this one had all the right elements of composition, lighting, and subject matter. I rated it highly, but didn’t think much about it thereafter.

The next time the image came to mind was when there was a call for entries to a local photography exhibit. The exhibition is called Through the Lens 2012 and you can see the show details here. The theme this year is Life in the Southern Appalachians. Now, I have shot in the southern Appalachians for the last twenty or thirty images. I have quite an assortment of images from the area. In fact, this one was the first one that came to mind. I submitted this and three other images to the exhibition. I think this image tells quite a story of the lifestyle and the people in the region. All across the southern mountains, you will find scenes like this one unfolding where friendships are strengthened, tales are told, and business is conducted in old buildings and on front porches.

Fortunately, the judge for the show agreed. This image won best of show. To be honest, I was a bit surprised. There were 76 photos in the show and there were at least half a dozen that could have won and I wouldn’t have been ashamed to finish second to one of them. In addition to that, the image itself sold at the show. The buyer seemed as pleased to add it to his collection as I was to sell it to him. He loved the light and compared the image to a Vermeer painting. I think he was being overly kind, but I’m certainly thankful for his opinion and patronage. I can honestly say that this is the first time I’ve had my work compared to an old master!

The exhibition really does have a nice collection of images from all across the region. If you live near Cumming, Georgia and have some free time between now and Sunday afternoon, you would enjoy spending a little while browsing in the exhibition. You can find directions and show details here.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting. Thanks for many of you who continue to look at my images and listen to my rambling thoughts. I truly appreciate your time and attention.




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