Gidget’s hooked up to Pearl, and we’re ready to rock!

Gidget got some miles under her shoes this April when we visited our friends in the beautiful Mississippi Delta. My first introduction to the South was a couple years ago, when I attended the “Rebirth” photography workshop, hosted and organized by the talented Will Jacks and Chris Williams. The idea behind Rebirth was to pull away from the business side of photography and to challenge our creative side. One of the evenings, Will had arranged for Lee McCarty, of the world-famous McCarty’s Pottery, to speak to the group about combining art and business. Lee, being in his 80’s, ended up just telling stories about the South, which were wonderfully detailed.

Lee

The next day, at “Uncle Lee’s” invitation, we enjoyed a 40-minute walking tour of the gardens surrounding the pottery shop. Lee delighted us with more stories—I swear he has one for every plant, tree, and flower in the considerable gardens; most of them revolving around his late wife, “Pup.”

After the tour, we checked out the pottery shop. Siting at the pottery wheel was Jamie Smith, one of Lee’s two nephews who now run McCarty’s. He invited my son, Sol, and I back to watch him closer. I remembered I had a Rebirth assignment to take a portrait of someone I didn’t know after interviewing them for a short time, so I struck up a conversation with Jamie. I quickly discovered his passion for conservative politics and knew we were going to be fast friends. I took his portrait and we exchanged emails.

Jaime Smith One of the portraits from the Rebirth workshop[/caption]

Jamie Smith

Good-natured Jamie working the wheel

It was only a few short months later that I was back in the Delta. Jamie had invited me hunting—something I’ve never done, and the timing was just perfect for me to also surprise Shaun, my biz partner, for his birthday. Shaun is an OC California boy, and I knew the South would be a culture-shocking good time for him. Of course, we’d also be shooting shotguns at dove, what more could two boys ask for?

Shaun’s wife worked with me to keep everything a secret. She told him they were going to dinner, and instead, she dropped him off at the airport with tickets to Indiana. Shaun landed and we started driving to Mississippi the next day. He still had no idea where he was going or what was going on. After 10 or so hours in the car, we pulled into Jamie’s drive in Marigold MS. Shaun and I had a ball… We hung out with some great folk, shot and ate a good amount of dove, attended church, and were regaled with more Southern stories by Uncle Lee. When I learned that Jamie and Jenny were expecting, I offered to thank him for the hunting extravaganza by coming down and photographing the baby.

Hunters

Shaun and Kev, natural born killahs.

Shaun is introduced to the beautifully cluttered world of McCarty’s

That brings us to the Gidget trip. We’d only owned her for a week or two, so we wanted to pull her down to MS with us. Gidget allowed us to break the trip up for the kids. We stayed at a campsite on the way down and one on the way back. We also made sure to check out the famous Lambert’s Cafe:

Lambert's Cafe

Shel got more comfortable driving Pearl with Gidget in tow, and we learned a few things about living in a trailer.

After a few miles, Gidget has some bugs in her teeth…

We stopped at Interstate Bar-B-Que for some amazing ribs. The new HDR function of the iPhone created some interesting effects… We call Shel “8-Eyes” in this one.

Interstate Bar-B-Que

The Mississippi sun sets on Gidget.

Gidget’s Curves

In addition to photographing baby Elizabeth, I wanted to get some shots of Uncle Lee. It turned out he had an idea about having his and Jamie’s hands photographed. I took a couple minutes to shoot Uncle Lee making jewelry, then Jamie working with the clay. I even got a shot of Jamie teaching Sol. Uncle Lee mentioned that he wanted them printed large for a gallery space he was opening. When I asked how large he wanted, I got, “4×6 feet or so.” I had to buy a Canon IPS 8300 to accommodate. It was that purchase, in combination with other forces, that lead to Shaun and I opening the Black Swan photo gallery just a couple months later; but that’s another story. During the trip, we got to visit “Po Monkey’s,” the only remaining Juke Joint in the world—a place I’ve had the fortune of visiting several times. We serendipitously ran into Will Jacks there one night. We also got to see the amazing flood of 2011.

Po Monkey’s, the last of the Juke Joints, where the Blues started.

Monkey, himself

The ever-happy baby Elizabeth

From the “Hands” series, Lee fashions a copper bracelet to be sold from the shop.

Also from “Hands,” Jamie teaches Solomon how to throw clay.

I swear it was unscripted. Sol and Uncle Lee connect.

The Mighty Mississippi

Doe’s Eat Place, a quirky Southern steak-house.

Doe’s oven hasn’t been cleaned since the 20s, and the steaks were amazing.

Lee and Liz

Like good Southerners, relaxing at Jamie’s with beer, and conversation.