How We "Human"
There are no smoke and mirrors or elaborate pulley systems involved with gathering stories and images for Humans of Central Appalachia. The process is really quite simple. On the weekends, after paying the bills with his "day" job, photographer Malcolm J. Wilson kisses his critters goodbye, loads up the car and heads out with a destination in mind (either self-selected or suggested).
We arrive with cameras and digital audio recorders and we introduce ourselves to people who somewhat shyly assure us that they absolutely, in no way, have any kind of even mildly entertaining story to tell (Appalachians being a humble lot). We are charming and persuasive, and we convince them otherwise. Generally, about 45 minutes later, we successfully conclude that interview with a large audio file, a bunch of photos and a new friend who has told us things they never thought they would tell anyone else, or that they thought no one would ever care about. But we care about each and every story, because they are important and compelling stories that are helping to shatter the generations-old stereotypes of Appalachians and our culture.
Often there are tears, usually there is laughter, and always, always there are hugs.
Inspired by Humans of New York, Humans of Central Appalachia began with short, quirky quotes and a photograph. As we grew, however, we realized that Appalachians are natural storytellers, and our followers enjoyed reading longer stories. On our Facebook page, you will find over 200 feature-length stories...and occasionally, one that's so good we just have to make it a two-parter.
All interviews are captured via digital voice recordings and are then transcribed, verbatim, by our talented and dedicated team of HOCA Word Wranglers. The only editing done is for clarity, and to ensure a seamless flow to the story. Our HOCA volunteers spend countless hours meticulously transcribing the stories which are shared with you as they are told to us…in the subject's own words.
Photos by renowned Appalachian documentary photographer, Malcolm J. Wilson, respectfully and honestly reflect the personality of each subject. Since the inception of the Humans of Central Appalachian Facebook page in June, 2014, the conscious decision was made to post all images in black and white, although all original images are shot as raw color files. Presenting the photos in grayscale imparts a reality to the images that enables the viewer to connect to the subject on an instinctual level.
Like many of the individuals featured on Humans of Central Appalachia, the Wilsons are individuals of modest means, yet they have picked up the tab for the production of this project, which includes gas, production, lodging, food, computers, cameras, lenses, recording equipment and admission fees to events.
Some of our best story-gathering sessions have come about directly as a result of suggestions from our followers. If there is a gathering or event in your region that you think we should be aware of, let us know! We are always interested in visiting new places and meeting new friends. You can contact us here.
If there are folks in your community you would like for us to feature, we will travel to you if you can assemble a group of eight or more individuals to talk with us, and you are located in one of the more than 200 counties in Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia or North Carolina that fall within the geographic scope of the "Central Appalachia" region we have defined.