Small Town Virginia Project

picture of Loudoun Street, Leesburg, VA from the Small Town Virginia project
Early Morning at the Tally Ho

My Small Town Virginia project is an ongoing attempt to depict the charm of villages and towns near where I live, before it disappears completely.  I’m just beginning, and I will continue to visit and photograph in these towns and create these images for as long as my interest in the project continues. 

Some months back, I revisited a series of photographs that I took while living in Europe back in the 1980s. From a personal point of view, I found myself reliving those moments, and the nostalgia was a very pleasant experience. However, I also noticed how different the places were then compared to more recent photographs (by others) of those same places. Time moves on, and it doesn’t always make things around us better, does it?

Where I live in Virginia, we have many small towns that began as crossroads during the 18th and19th centuries and went through cycles of growth and decay during the 20th Century. My small town of Leesburg, Virginia has mostly kept its early 20th Century small town charm. But I don’t have to drive far to see towns that have completely lost their charm to the advances of ‘progress.’  

Even in Leesburg, progress is inevitable. Parking garages now sit where old mom and pop business used to be. Nostalgic old neon signs replaced with the typical glitz and glitter of modern times. Old incandescent street lamps torn out and replaced with 50 foot halogens. The list goes on and on. 

How’s your small town doing? Have you seen such changes where you live? I bet you have.

Lately, I’ve been on a crusade, and I wanted to share it with you. 

Small Town Virginia isn’t about doing a travelogue. I’m not interested in documenting historical artifacts and architecture. Nor am I trying to criticize the effects of modernization and progress. Instead, I’m trying to create images that recall the time when things were simpler in our small towns; quieter times, community times. 

I’ll be changing the images in the portfolio over time. Some of those here now will disappear and others will appear. The best way to see where I am in the project is to follow along. Leave me a comment on the Small Town Virginia page and let me know if you have favorites or to just make your mark of interest. 

An enduring value of photography is that it freezes moments that our brains want to dismiss in mere fractions of a second. Through photographs, we can relive those moments, enjoy the nostalgia of the experience, and then repeat whenever we want.  

And that’s what I love about photography!

Until next time,

Picture of J. Riley Stewart

Did you enjoy this article?  Feel free to share with someone you think might also enjoy it, and invite them to subscribe to “Under the Darkcloth.”  And please leave me a comment or ask a question by commenting below. Clicking the image of “Early Morning at the Tally Ho” will take you to its place in the gallery, where you can explore the details and see how it might give you just the right place to go when you need a bit of nostalgia and make a quieter time for yourself.

Copyright J. Riley Stewart, 2018, all rights reserved.