Eyes on LaFollette

Eyes on LaFollette: UT Student Photojournalism Project Marks 20 Years
 

An exhibition of photographs taken by University of Tennessee photojournalism students over the past 21 years opens at the State Museum on October 3. The exhibit entitled, Eyes on LaFollette: UT Student Photojournalism Project Marks 20 Years, has been organized by Robert Heller, professor, University of Tennessee School of Journalism and Electronic Media, in partnership with the museum.

The exhibit contains 202 photographs taken by 102 photographers. For 21 years Heller has brought his advanced photojournalism students from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville to photograph life in the East Tennessee town of LaFollette (population around 7,300). Through the lenses of student cameras, they capture a glimpse of this community’s endearing character.  Each year, the local weekly newspaper, LaFollette Press, publishes a special edition of these photographs entitled “Eyes on LaFollette.”  Edited down from tens of thousands of photos, both film and digital, the exhibit serves as a visual history of this community during that time period.

“From 1993 to now, my advanced photojournalism students and I have traveled the interstate north from Knoxville about an hour and spent a day and a half documenting life in the small town of LaFollette,” stated Heller.  “The local weekly newspaper very generously offers up room to publish a special edition of these photographs. There are no big stories, no important events — just life as it is lived everyday.”

“Preparation for this project begins earlier in the spring semester as we take a brief ‘research’ trip to LaFollette and speak with staff members of the newspaper for a few hours,” Heller goes on to explain.“That discussion leads to story ideas, people to contact, and a quick drive around town before returning home. Several weeks later, sometime during early April, students head out and spend two days searching for great photos.”

Heller and his students then choose from among several thousand photos for the strongest images to use in the newspaper. They work on editing, layout, design and writing captions and short stories.  Thursday morning, after one last review, pages are finalized and e-mailed to the newspaper, and students await the printed special sections to appear in class the next week.

“Twenty years plus, 250 students, 17 editions and tens of thousands of photos add up to quite an achievement.  We'll keep doing it as long as the people of LaFollette will have us,” Heller went on to say.

In 2013, student Sarah Waldrip shared her sentiments about the project, “Around every street corner and down every country road, we discovered it’s not just the obvious charm that makes the people of LaFollette such great photo subjects. Rather, it’s the subtle stories of life and labor told in the wrinkles of their hands, the quiet memories of love and loss twinkling in their eyes, and the modesty of authentic Tennessee life that surfaces in their manners and appearance. Through the lenses of our cameras, we attempted to capture a glimpse of this endearing character while also taking our final steps toward professional careers. It is our hope that these resulting pictures do justice to the lives and stories of LaFollette.”


Eyes on LaFollette: UT Student Photojournalism Project Marks 20 Years is free to the public and will be on view through November 30, 2014. 


Captions:
Top Right: 
Photo by Andy Ashby, 1997
Left: Photo by Jason Gregory, 1993
Bottom Right: Photo by Molly Morgan, 2013




 

 





tn4me

Tennessee State Museum
505 Deaderick Street
Nashville, TN 37243-1120

FREE ADMISSION

Open: Tuesday - Saturday:
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday: 1 to 5 p.m.
Closed: Mondays and four holidays: New Year's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day.

(615) 741-2692
TOLL-FREE: 800-407-4324
museuminfo@tnmuseum.org

 





tn4me

Tennessee State Museum
505 Deaderick Street
Nashville, TN 37243-1120

FREE ADMISSION

Open: Tuesday - Saturday:
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday: 1 to 5 p.m.
Closed: Mondays and four holidays: New Year's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day.

(615) 741-2692
TOLL-FREE: 800-407-4324
museuminfo@tnmuseum.org