by Roberto Westbrook
I took these photos in 2008 while traveling around Smithfield, VA, a town that’s about 30 miles northwest of my home in Norfolk. My photos from Smithfield are part of an informal, personal project to get to know this region better. Looking at a map, Virginia may seem like it is “Barely South” as it is just below the Mason Dixon line, but venture outside any city and you’ll find a landscape and people that are distinctly southern. The cotton, cotton fields and overgrown ivy represented in these photos are rooted in notions of the Old South, but by depicting the subjects in color I’m trying to move beyond a nostalgia for the old and into a discovery of the New South.
Cotton Ball No. 1
Plowed Cotton Field
After receiving a degree in business from the University of Virginia, Roberto studied photography at the University of Florida. Before settling in Norfolk with his wife, he worked as a photographer in Washington, D.C., and then Buenos Aires, Argentina. His photographs of South America have been exhibited at the American Embassy in Lima, Peru and at the University of Florida. Roberto has been published in National Geographic Traveler, Smithsonian, Timemagazine, The New York Times and others. His work can be found atrobertowestbrook.com