Commercial and fine-art photographer Tamara Reynolds exits the main highway to explore the back roads of the South.
“Viewfinder” is an occasional series on photographers who focus on rural places and themes.
“I think everything is beautiful when seen correctly,” says Tamara Reynolds, a successful commercial photographer from Nashville, Tennessee. Reynolds, who applies her unique approach and vision to editorial and advertising assignments for high profile clients in Nashville, Atlanta and beyond also pursues fine art photography on her own. Her series “Southern Route,” explores images of the South, primarily in and around Nashville and the route she drives to Nantahala in North Carolina to see her boyfriend, who works as a river guide.
“I would go to see him and I noticed that immediately outside of Nashville and Chattanooga and Atlanta are areas that most people never see. So I started getting off the main highway, and stopping because I’d see these wonderful places that were going away.”
The photos in Southern Route are of the people and places Reynolds encounters, and her affection for them shows in her work, eschewing journalistic objectivity in favor of an authentic connection with her subjects.
Reynolds spends time getting to know the people she is photographing to try and break down walls and form a more human connection.
“I don’t want to go in there and grab something or take something from them. I want to be engaging with them. It’s not so much a taking but a making of a portrait.”
While Reynolds considers herself “more of a people photographer,” her landscapes are equally striking, depicting parts of the South that Reynolds fears are becoming more generic and homogenized. Even when no people appear in Reynolds’ photographs, they feel both personal and vulnerable, as if Reynolds is seeking both to understand the South and be understood as a Southerner.
“Even when I do landscapes or still-lifes, they are still in a sense a portrait of the place, and my relationship with the place.”
The Southern Route series continues to grow and evolve as Reynolds continues to travel, and the explore what the South means to her. She says she’ll continue to take the back roads, and stop for pictures.
“There’s beauty in everything if we slow down enough to see.”