Paul Kwilecki is likely the best Georgia photographer you’ve never heard of. He’s a personal favorite of mine. After selling his family’s hardware business in Bainbridge he took up photography full-time, but as a self-taught photographer he was often isolated from the larger art world. That proved to be a good thing, as this beautiful new book, One Place: Paul Kwilecki and Four Decades of Photographs from Decatur County, Georgia will attest. For nearly forty years he photographed the people and places of Decatur County and did so with an eye not turned on Georgia in such a way since the FSA photographers of the Great Depression visited the state. Though he published one book in his lifetime (Understandings: Photographs of Decatur County, Georgia; UNC Press, Chapel Hill, 1981) and had hoped to see this one to print before his death, One Place will go far in establishing his place in the larger canon of American documentary work. I’m lucky to have briefly corresponded with Mr. Kwilecki before his death and he was a real gentleman, encouraging me to pursue my own passion for photography.
If you’re a fan of photography, you will want to purchase this book, or request it at your local library. Tom Rankin, who directs Duke University’s wonderful Center for Documentary Studies, edited the work and draws from his association with the photographer, as well as Kwilecki’s own descriptions of his work.