I just finished my second year of photographing small towns for my "Timeless Small Town Christmas Collection," and I have to say, this project is becoming something I look forward to shooting every December. For this project, I photographed multiple different towns that I had not done the previous year; I also shot a few more from Kingsport, TN, as they added new decorations this year that I thought would add value to the project.
I kicked December off by visiting Elizabethton, TN. Elizabethton has a gorgeous old downtown that has been revitalized over the past five years, and they do a great job decorating the area. They had large trees decorated, window displays (which I am a massive fan of), a skating rink, horse and carriage rides, hot chocolate, and so much more. Half the fun of documenting this project is also enjoying the activities provided. Elizabethton provided me with an array of opportunities. My wife and I enjoyed the evening exploring and enjoying the lights.
Throughout the month, to and from work, I drive through a few small towns, and I grabbed a couple of shots for the project from Mt. Carmel, TN. Mt Carmel does not do much, and the downtown is tiny, but I was happy with the inflatable Santa Claus photograph that faces 11W, which I took one evening home from work. I also photographed the Santa Train pulling into Kingsport, or rather the children and people there, to catch a glimpse of Santa. The Santa Train has been in operation since 1943 and is a rather unique way to see Santa, especially for those in Southwest Virginia. Santa also throws toys and candy to kids waiting to greet him. I photographed the final stop, but I plan to photograph more of the route next year when I have plenty of time to plan better. This was kind of a last-minute decision this year, and I am happy I went as I came away with some very unique photographs.
The next town I visited was just across the state line in Southwest Virginia, Gate City. Gate City was decorated heavily, and they had a Christmas Tree decorating contest going on throughout the town. Some of the shops had some beautiful window paintings, or they had a Christmas-themed window display. I was excited as this location had plenty of street scenes with all of the sidewalk decorations.
One of my final small towns was Barbourville, KY, and by request from my wife. We had visited Barbourville before during Valentine's weekend. This town decorates heavily for each season. My wife was so impressed with Valentine's setup that she had to come to see what they did for Christmas, and it did not disappoint. However, the rain did. I worked some shots in heavy rain and waited until I had an opening. The theme to the town was a Dr. Seus classic, The Grinch. They had the old cartoon version piped in throughout the city, and the Town tree at the Courthouse was decorated to the theme.
December came and went in a flash, and before I knew it, I had my second year in the books. The goal is to hit fifty small towns throughout my region, so the time frame is unknown, but that's ok. Half the fun is the journey. At the end of the project will be a book full of timeless moments throughout a region that needs to be documented.
Below are some of my favorite photographs from this year.