Christmas, it’s one of the most festive and decorative times of the year, most everyone celebrates or participates in some way. Here in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, it’s almost mandatory. Each town has its own way of decorating, and many have been using the same decorations for decades; for example, Kingsport, TN, has had its famous tornado trees for as long as I can remember. Some towns add to their decorations every year or change them out completely every so often. I thought it would be fun to go around these towns and create some timeless photographs that may even become historical. I chose black and white for about 95% of the images; I just felt it gave it that Miracle on 34th street vibe. I only chose color for the photos that really demanded it be so, which you will see in the gallery below.
I visited Marion, VA, first; my wife and I were there at the very beginning of December and caught a show at the theater featuring Ricky Skaggs. We were walking back to the car when I noticed the festive window displays. This actually sparked the thought of doing this series. I was able to get to 5 small towns; Marion was the only town in Virginia I actually captured before Christmas came (I did make a pitstop in Abingdon, VA to photograph the Barter Theater, but I didn’t photograph the town.) Kingsport, TN followed next, then Jonesborough, TN, Rogersville, TN, and I finished in Greenville, TN, right before Christmas.
I feel the best images I captured were in Kingsport. I went downtown around midnight, the fog had rolled in, creating a beautiful atmosphere with the lights downtown. I would say these images were the most “timeless” feeling I could capture. Jonesborough was the most festive town I visited. They had lights and displays everywhere, not to mention they had their large pine tree fully decorated at the courthouse. One feature I really liked was the wreaths they had along the lights that lined the streets. I got a great shot of the newly renovated theater downtown through one of these wreaths; it ended up being one of my overall favorite shots. Finally, Greeneville and Rogersville were modestly decorated and done very tastefully. These towns also decorated their large pine tree that sat outside their courthouse (I am starting to wonder if all of our courthouses have a large pine tree).
This small series was a lot of fun to shoot, and I think I will continue this on into the years. I want to visit more small towns, especially in Virginia. I would love to cover all of Tennessee and Virginia; who knows, I might even make it into West Virginia and North Carolina. There are hundreds of small towns left, which honestly excites me. I hope you enjoy these images as much as I do, and be sure to check back often. I plan to post more series here, including more of this one.