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Changing moods

Published: Jun. 16, 2021 at 2:22 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 16, 2021 at 2:46 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - He has been called Alabama’s Ansel Adams. Not only do they work in the same medium, but they are also both masters in the art of black and white photography. Now there is a new compilation of John Dersham’s photographs, which tells the story of the people and places who have come before his lens.

Absolutely Alabama.
Absolutely Alabama.(Source: Fred Hunter/WBRC)
Absolutely Alabama.
Absolutely Alabama.(Source: Fred Hunter/WBRC)

“My last book, ‘My Alabama, John Dersham Photographs A State’ is primarily color, digital pictures taken all around the state, and now I have a new one with New South Books out of Montgomery.”

The book’s title, according to John, is really part of the story. “The book is called Changing Moods, 60 Years In Black and White. It just happens that I started photography at age nine, which was in 1960. So, the chapters of the book are the decades. It walks through each decade and talks about what I was doing.”

Absolutely Alabama.
Absolutely Alabama.(Source: Fred Hunter/WBRC)

John is pleased to note the contributions from another individual well known for his work in photography. “Alan Ross wrote the foreword to this book. He was Ansel Adams’ personal assistant. The pictures in the book are nationwide. It lends to mood, thus changing moods. It displays environmental issues where you sort of feel the image.”

Absolutely Alabama.
Absolutely Alabama.(Source: Fred Hunter/WBRC)

A small sampling of John’s work can be seen at The Canyon Center for Jacksonville State University located near Little River Falls. “When it opened in 2009, I was asked if I would show my black and white work in here. We’ve changed out the pictures a few times, but it’s been sort of a permanent display. The book itself has some of these that are in here, but it also has a mix of some that are strictly scenery shots around the country to the human touch.”

John notes, “What’s nice about this book, being six decades in the past, these scenes can’t be taken anymore. These places are either out of business or the people have passed on. It’s kind of a story, not just of my work and my life, but it’s really a story about humanity.”

Absolutely Alabama.
Absolutely Alabama.(Source: Fred Hunter/WBRC)

Lookout Mountain is home for John now as he continues to document changing moods in place and time and share a lifetime of experience.

Absolutely Alabama.
Absolutely Alabama.(Source: Fred Hunter/WBRC)

“People love to attend the workshops I do here for JSU at Little River Canyon. It’s just an outstanding place to come and enjoy yourself.”

Absolutely Alabama.
Absolutely Alabama.(Source: Fred Hunter/WBRC)

John’s love for his work comes through when he talks about it. “It’s just been a lifelong passion and I never have stopped doing it.”

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