Many times funerals and burials in southern West Virginia take place in hard to get to places. These pictures are just an example. We could not get the coffin to the grave-site from the closest route, so the hearse driver had to get as close as he could from the backside of the cemetery and the pall bearers had to carry the coffin several yards. The graves are hard to dig often with huge rocks and tree roots to deal with on the side of a mountain like this grave was.
These beautiful and haunting images of McDowell County were taken by Alan Johnston. Johnston is a bluegrass musician and a photographer who is on a mission to capture his community in photos. So far he has covered around 20 communities. I followed Alan on one of this photography adventure, you can see a short clip here. Click to image for an expanded view.
Yesterday I spent the morning and afternoon with the very talented Alan Johnston. Alan is a bluegrass musician and a photographer living in Premiere, W.Va., just outside of Welch. I filmed Alen playing music and taking photographs in the Northfork area. He is on a mission to capture his county in photographs and has so far covered about 20 communities. Alan spoke alot about the role of faith and God in his upbringing and says that “home is where the heart is” and McDowell County is where his heart is.
Alan Johnston who was interviewed for the Australian Broadcasting piece was vocal about his concerns to the producer who arranged the shoot in McDowell County.
I was impressed with the technical aspect of what they did with the story, but I was so disappointed that they did exactly what I told you I would rather not have a part in and that was to show only the negative side of what’s going on here. Sure, we are on hard times and sure we have many problems, but there are also positive things going on here that were not even mentioned. I’m sure the viewers in Australia are convinced that the side of McDowell County that was portrayed in the clip is all we are about, and that is simply not true. It’s all water under the bridge, now. Maybe they will return and show the positive things going on here like some of the things I mentioned in my interview that were not included. I just wanted to get that off my chest.
Janet E. Silver of ABC replied:
I am sorry you feel that way…yes the story covered the hard times but when I watched it (and I only just watched it this afternoon given I set up stories and then move on to another story while correspondent and cameraman go off to film), I was left with the impression yes there are tough times but there are people there trying to make a difference and Michael refers to a sense of optimism with people trying to make a difference. I also got a sense of a people who have a rich history and a whole lot of character and I really think you and Jean gave us that sense of history, character and optimism.