Faces of Appalachia

“KILLER” reads the tattoo on his right arm that also depicts a fighting cock like the ones Nickey raises at his family’s trailer deep in the back country of Appalachia. “Sometimes we fight over by the graveyard,” Nickey explained. “My momma’s cousin is buried there and she always loved the chicken fights, so we fight by her grave.” The fights are Nickey’s only income source in a region ravaged by the boom and current bust of the coal industry. Gabriel Scarlett/HERALD

Photojournalism can take a photographer hundreds of miles from home in the search for new subjects and compelling stories. While the setting changes, the universal themes of family, friendship and tradition remain constant throughout. While working on a project in the Appalachian backcountry, I had the time to meet and make photographs of folks in a tight knit community tucked away in a West Virginian hollow. The experience introduced me to some great people I otherwise would never have met and I hope these portraits can do just that for my viewers.