Appalachian Artist Makes Photography Debut | Local News

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Growing up surrounded by Appalachian wildlife, Caldwell County native Jesse Barber found his love for photography and documenting the natural world.

Barber, 28, grew up mainly in sawmills. He graduated from South Caldwell High School in 2011. He went on to earn an Associate’s degree from Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute, where he fell in love with photography during his first photography class with instructor David Hessell , whose enthusiasm and style made him want to learn even more.

“Even though it was just a basic photo course, it made it really fun and engaging,” he said. “It made me want to do the same for other members of the community in the future.”

Last August, as a junior at Appalachian State University, Barber enrolled in a photography class. He said the instructor led the class by asking students to write about a concept first before taking pictures.

“When I started photographing things, the images started to take center stage, and my idea of ​​what I wanted to pursue for the project kept changing,” said Barber.

He ended up taking the path of environmental photography. He focused on the New River, which runs from near Boone northeast in Virginia, then northwest into the Kanawha River in West Virginia.

“I did a lot of my job … near the town of Creston, north of Boone,” he said. “I took environmental photos of the river and the landscape around it.”

Barber said this was his original intention for the project, but over time he also started documenting people, looking at how stories played out about the area.

“It has become the way people interact with the natural world, the intersection of these two paths,” he said. “That’s how I got the name of the book ‘Confluence’. “

Barber released “Confluence” in February 2020. He is scheduled to graduate from Appalachia in May 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, with a focus on Appalachian Documentary Studies.

After graduating, he hopes to teach a photography class to inspire younger people to engage with the community in the same way.

“I feel that collecting stories about the history of the Appalachians and the surrounding region is a great way to use photography to give back to the community,” he said. “I just want to use my passion to inspire others to give back.”

Journalist Carmen Boone can be reached at 828-610-8723

Journalist Carmen Boone can be reached at 828-610-8723

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