A few years ago I was honored to help assemble a group of photographers and spearhead a project to capture 250 portraits of a small Vermont town to celebrate its 250th anniversary. It happened to be the birthplace of Vermont, the first capital of the state, and a town that has seen the same economic and social cycles of so many small cities and towns. The original project produced a gallery show, a digital flip book, and finally a large hardcover volume of the entire project. It was a true community effort from fundraising to photography to publication.
Out of this original summer photography essay, we created the Why We Stay project. Why We Stay is a photo-folklore project which explores distinct populations either by geography or shared experience through the use of photography, audio interviews and the collection of stories and data. Why We Stay seeks to document a cross section of people in a distinct time and place with all photographs usually captured in a small window of time.
Individually, the projects provide a historical and emotional record, a true sense of place. But combined, Why We Stay begins to create a more multidimensional view of our world and how we relate to both the place we live and the people around us.
The most recent edition of Vermont Life (Spring 2014) features a story on the project and the first two towns completed: Windsor, Vermont and Royalton, Vermont. We are very excited for the second book to hit the shelves in just a few weeks and look forward to where this project will take us 2014. Learn more at