Small Town Virginia

Scenes of small towns in Virginia during quiet times.

About Small Town Virginia

Wherever we find them, small towns encourage us to reconsider the modernity of large cities. In small towns, old historic buildings are repurposed, not demolished. In Small Town Virginia, especially, our history seems to come alive in the town squares and courtyards and streets, and the nostalgia and charm makes us recall the days of our grandfathers. 

But Father Time is threatening the character of many small towns, leaving us to wonder just how long we have to enjoy their charm and nostalgia.  This project is my attempt to tell the quaint old stories of Small Town Virginia, before it’s too late.

When starting this project, I wondered if I would be able to express the charm of today's small towns. It's hard to see it during most times of the day, when the streets and sidewalks are full of people and noise. Facades of old buildings and signs have been 'modernized,' or erased altogether. Town businesses have had to keep up with the times, so stores, gas stations, and even government buildings no longer appear as they once were.

I'll leave it to others to finally decide whether I succeed, but a few things I knew I had to avoid to create a sense of nostalgia were modern colors, harsh sunlight, and modern people (and their cars).  Things I knew I would need to include were significant historic buildings and signage, moody atmosphere, and lamplight. 

Avoiding modern people and cars can be a problem. None of the towns I wanted to represent were derelict; pick most times of the day and the streets and sidewalks in these towns are full of people and traffic. That meant that I had to be there when people and cars weren't. Early morning is my preferred time of the day anyway, with just enough twilight that I and my camera can see into the shadows created by ambient and not-yet-snuffed lamplight.  Expressing the scenes in B&W around twilight seemed to be the best way to avoid the visual and auditory noise of these small towns.

I've learned something important already, even though I've visited only a handful of the towns I hope to visit for this project, and that is this:  No matter how visually noisy these places can be, there are the sleepy times when they become as still and quiet as a country back road or wilderness park. It is at these times when the classic architecture of the early 1900s speaks most clearly; it is at these times when you can almost sense a feeling of being among Mom&Pop grocery stores, 1-screen theaters and 1-pump gas stations, and knowing the Postmaster by name.

Please email me if you have any questions.