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"I do not want to shout or preach. I want to state a fact of life and vision. The law of gravity doesn't shout. The clouds, the sun, the certainty of birth and death, these things don't shout. But they are."

Paul Kwilecki's Decatur County, Ga. 

Resting, 1965. "They had vitality to burn but options were scarce," wrote Paul Kwilecki of the shade tobacco workers. "It made their humor stand out in bold relief."

Photo by Paul Kwilecki

Resting, 1965. "They had vitality to burn but options were scarce," wrote Paul Kwilecki of the shade tobacco workers. "It made their humor stand out in bold relief."

Feel It All Around

The physical weight was first thing I noticed. At 4 pounds, 9 ounces, One Place: Paul Kwilecki and Four Decades of Photographs from Decatur County, Georgia is the retrospective "big" book Paul Kwilecki had long dreamed of while diligently recording everyday life in his hometown and surrounding county.

Each page reveals a stunning range of subjects that Paul sought out when he wasn't working his day job at the family hardware store in Bainbridge, Ga. There are studied vignettes of mundane daily life, from the grocery aisles to the banks of the Flint River, and telling moments, from a County Farm hog killing to a prom procession around the town square.

Beautifully edited by Tom Rankin, outgoing director of the Center for Documentary Studies, and Iris Tillman Hill, One Place offers readers the opportunity to sense a more incalculable weight with each black-and-white print: that of time, measured in decades, patiently and deliberately constructed to understand more fully the place he called home.

Writing to longtime friend and photographer David Vestal in 1963, Kwilecki clearly states his intentions: "I do not want to shout or preach. I want to state a fact of life and vision. The law of gravity doesn't shout. The clouds, the sun, the certainty of birth and death, these things don't shout. But they are."

Grocery store, 1980 - PHOTO BY PAUL KWILECKI
  • Photo by Paul Kwilecki
  • Grocery store, 1980

Flint River boat basin, 1981 - PHOTO BY PAUL KWILECKI
  • Photo by Paul Kwilecki
  • Flint River boat basin, 1981

All images from One Place: Paul Kwilecki and Four Decades of Photographs from Decatur County, Georgia by Paul Kwilecki. Edited by Tom Rankin with Iris Tillman Hill. Copyright © 2013 by the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. Photographs by Paul Kwilecki © 2013 by the Estate of Paul Kwilecki. Used by permission of the University of North Carolina Press.

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