“My Photography Friends” – is a new series that shows the creative works of friends and acquaintances.
My Photography Friends – Bill Yates – Down Southern Roads
“”Looking for the significance in the ordinary” as I travel Down Southern Roads.” – Bill Yates – Photographer and friend
I remember when my family first moved to Florida, the sights on the side of the road seemed foreign, out of place, crazy or desperate. In many cases they were all those things.
From gruesome roadside memorials to live mermaids, snake farms, weird looking motels, gaudy trailer parks, seashell stores, curiosity shops, and citrus stands, the highways were lined with the cheap, the tacky, the tasteless and sometimes the vulgar. Nearly everywhere, there were references to Jesus and messages of hate. To me, the absurd seemed to be the norm.
The southern road seemed to beg your attention for what was just ahead. While there is plenty of this that can be seen in the rest of the country, no place I know shows its bigotry, racism, or desperation quite like the backroads of the southeastern United States.
The landscape of the South has a beauty all its own, in many ways, the land is as primitive as anything imaginable. Swamps, lakes, southern pines, Spanish moss, water oaks, cypress and the dense undergrowth of palmetto are habitat for rattlesnakes, alligators, wild boar, armadillo and flocks of exotic birds. A shopping mall, a gas station or a motel billboard just doesn’t seem to belong. They are all out of place.
Except for the evidence of a human presence, the land itself seems primitive and prehistoric. It seems to be from another time. In the South, it is easy to imagine Tyrannosaurus, Pterodactyl and the beginnings of life. It is even easier to see if you manage to look past the distraction of those signs and symbols that are constantly in the view.
Perhaps much has changed since Florida was my home, but in looking at the recent images taken by my friend and colleague, that doesn’t seem to be the case. The landscape and the people of this neck-of-the-woods are an assortment of all that is good and all that is bad about America in the twenty first century.
Down Southern Roads : Bill Yates is a collection of images that traverse a trail of southern Dixie values, peculiarity, highway oddities, and craziness within the fading landscape of the southern road.
Bill Yates is an old friend from back when we were both art students of the late Oscar Bailey. We recently reconnected on Facebook.
Back then, I was still considering whether to become a photographer or a painter. For myself, it was a critical choice between becoming the traditional artist I had wanted to be and transforming myself into a fine art photographer. While it was Oscar that introduced us to the photographic experience, it was Bill Yates, myself and our fellow classmates who became disciples.
While both of us see the world through our own eyes, I see a little of Oscar Bailey in the works that both Bill and myself have done throughout the years. From a photographer’s perspective, I believe that Bill is as thankful as any for the visual gold-mine that is the American South. In many ways, these images make me a bit homesick for my old stomping grounds. They make me want to go back sometime and shoot a few pictures.
Here is Bill’s professional website: Bill Yates | CYPIX – Aerial Location Panoramic Photography – Home …
Bill was recently chosen as one of the CRITICAL MASS TOP 50 winners for 2013.
“I had just purchased a Yashica Mat at a pawnshop and as usual I was out riding around looking for something to shoot. I happened upon an old wooden structure built in the 30’s in rural southern Hillsborough County (Tampa, FL) – the sign read Sweetheart Roller Skating Rink.…………” – Bill Yates
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