I started making photographs the year my dad died. He was a photographer, devoted Kentuckian, and a man who loved tradition, simplicity, and the complicated richness of being a Southerner.
When he passed, I was living in the Northeast, and I felt as though I lost my anchor, my roots, and my home. I began to see place differently — mostly through missing home, but in other ways also. Suddenly, I fully realized it’s importance, and how place has the potential to fill you and shape you to your bones, if you let it. I also faced sadness with the realization that place is impermanent, as it holds memories, experiences, and loved ones — all facets of life which are forever changing. When my dad died, my place suddenly felt dark, and I started making photographs to find that light again.
When I created this series, I was searching for a set of values alive in myself and in my memories — a simple way of living that feels humble and pure, always grounded in where you are. I took road trips as an exercise to understand place and awaken these values, anywhere from the unfamiliar corners of Maine to the familiar reaches of the south. In the way that songs bring about stories, paint pictures in your mind, and preserve memories, these photographs represent my songs, each a different story and memory. Songs from the Road became a series of photographs that allowed me to both linger in my past and seek out an independent future that would keep these values alive.
Looking back on this series and remembering this time in my life, I see clearly that I was in a quiet state mourning and deep longing… and I see that in the images. Photography was a way in which I grieved my father, and while taking these pictures, I felt like he was still with me. -Charlotte Strode
Charlotte Strode was born and raised outside Louisville, Kentucky, and currently lives in Atlanta, GA. She’s been featured as an emerging Southern photographer for Jeff Rich’s column in Oxford American, “Eyes on the South”; her work has also been featured in Fraction Magazine, FOCAL POINT, and other publications. The daughter of photographer William Strode, Charlotte learned to pay attention to the world around her and create photographs from her father. While living in New York City, she also studied photography at the International Center of Photography. See more of her work on her website.