Black & White

Don Norris

We asked Hattiesburg’s Don Norris to say a word or two about black and white photography and about his work that is currently exhibited for sale at Oddfellows Gallery. Here’s what he shared with us:

Black and white photography is always about form. As color photography brings us interesting visual complexities, black and white photography offers satisfying simplicity and clarity. That probably explains its persistence as a mainstay of fine art photography long after color photography became widely used and appreciated.

Because good black and white photographs make such strongly coherent statements about their subjects, they draw a viewer’s attention from across the room. A grouping of properly framed black and white photographs in a home can be one of the most arresting and sophisticated statements of personal taste.

I do landscape photography, mostly in black and white. My work is regional and southern, and it concerns the everyday and the commonplace, what is familiar. I like precisely detailed images because they are so true to their subjects. My work is quiet and has a certain sense of gravitas—qualities that are often seen in southern photography.

I am especially interested in southern architecture, which is one of the elements that create our sense of where we live and who we are. Buildings speak to us in the words of their designers, and our historic houses, churches, shops, offices, and agricultural buildings clearly inform us about their times and places.

The four photographs I have on display at the Oddfellows Gallery are of three historic churches and an early plantation house. They are all from rural Alabama and Mississippi. The two early 20th century churches continue to be used by their original congregations, but the imposing mid-19th century cotton planters’ church is long abandoned (and now inhabited by a barn owl). The Lawrence County plantation house was built in 1839; its porch has a Greek Revival balustrade that marked high style in its day.