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A Photographic Project Proposal

Since moving to West Virginia two years ago, there have been several coal mining tragedies which have brought coal mining, and especially the people who do the mining, to my attention … and to the attention of the world.

With America looking for ways to reduce dependence on Middle Eastern oil, the coal industry is in the national spotlight. The future of American energy may depend in no small part on those who serve on the front lines, the coal miners themselves.

In making life-sized photographs of miners, I hope to celebrate their valuable place in American society and honor their importance to the future of us all.

The project I am proposing would entail my travel to several mining communities, where I would set up a temporary studio in a community space –a school or church gym, for example- and photograph approximately 30 men and women who mine coal.

Initially, I envision making photographs of them in the clothes and equipment that they wear to work, but as my approach is often guided by the subjects themselves, this could vary. Similarly, while I see the images primarily in black & white, some could be done in color should that become desirable and is deemed appropriate.

For the past 10 years I have been photographing Native Americans in traditional regalia. These images were photographed (and are displayed) in life-size. They are powerful portrayals of the beauty, dignity and integrity of contemporary Native Americans. Moreover, they have been received as such, with great enthusiasm, throughout Indian country. The honor bestowed on both the subjects and their communities is unmistakable.

The West Virginia Coal Miners Project, once completed, would result in approximately thirty full-size, mounted images available for exhibition. It is my hope and intention that this exhibit would travel extensively throughout America, and perhaps even internationally.

As in the Native American project, I would commit at the outset to share any income from sale of the images with the subjects.

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