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(Photograph: Susie Penman)

David Wharton: Southern Photographs


David Wharton was born in New York City in 1947 and grew up in New Jersey. He attended Colgate University, where he earned his B.A. in English in 1969. After an extended trip through Andean South America in 1974, he resolved to teach himself how to use a camera and make photography his life's work. From 1976 to 1978 he worked as a photojournalist for the Willamette Valley Observer in Eugene, Oregon. He then entered graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned his M.F.A. in photography in 1986 and his Ph.D. in American studies in 1994. He taught at the University of Texas at San Antonio from 1996 to 1998 and, from 1999 until his death on September 25, 2022, was Director of Documentary Studies and an assistant professor of Southern studies in the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi in Oxford. His photographs have been exhibited throughout the United States, Latin America, and Europe, and he is the author of a trilogy of books on the American South: Roadside South (2022), The Power of Belief: Spiritual Landscapes from the Rural South (2016), winner of the 2017 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award for photography, and Small Town South (2012), winner of the 2013 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award for photography, all published by George F. Thompson Publishing. His first book, The Soul of a Small Texas Town: Photographs, Memories, and History from McDade (University of Oklahoma Press, 2000), set the table for Wharton's Trilogy of the American South.

Why I Photograph (Mostly) in Black-and-White (click for pdf of essay)

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