My wife is from South Dakota and every time we go back to visit family, I am often times a little sad with some of the small towns the we visit and drive though on our way to a relatives house. A lot of her family were famers or are currently farmers and that lifestyle is changing rapidly, and you can see it in the changing landscapes of these small farming towns. They have a feeling of something lost and that time is slowing slipping away. It leaves me with a heavy heart sometimes when I think about all that is gone from these towns as main street shrinks and buildings sit empty. And yet some of the warmest more friendly people you will find are on those streets. They are always willing to say hello and share something about themselves. And for me it is still hard to think about how many towns in the past and future will just turn in to marks in a history book or a ghost town location we might visit. I wonder about all those great people and what will happen to them and their stories.
As we passed through Oakesdale late yesterday evening, I had a similar experience. A lot of the stores are closed and shut down, the main street was totally quite; and yet, you could hear the kids playing down by the pool. As we walked around, I was particularly struck by the Richfield gas station and garage that no longer appeared open. I could imagine a time when people stopped by on a regular basis and got gas, fixed a flat or just caught up with some the people in from the farms around the town. It reminded a little of Radiator Springs in the Pixar movie cars.
As I got out and created some images of Richfields, I found myself having similar thoughts to all those trips to South Dakota. Then something unexpected happened. As I was walking around trying out different compositions, I felt like I was getting to catch up with the people of Oakesdale by spending some time there. Stopping to chat up what I was doing and what story Richfields had to share. We got to setup a collaboration between artist and model. It was a great feeling and something that I will always remember as I continue to pass through these towns and are changing with the times. Towns whose stories aren’t finished and who still want to connect with the people who stop to listen. I had a unique opportunity to take this story back and share with friends knowing that some places just aren’t done telling their story.
All images shot with Nikon D700, 24-70mm f/2.8 lens on Lexar Media.