The Team

Roger May is an Appalachian American photographer and writer based in Charleston, West Virginia. He was born in the Tug River Valley, located on the West Virginia and Kentucky state line, in the heart of Hatfield and McCoy country. His photographs, essays, and interviews have been published by the New York Times, the Guardian, the AtlanticAl Jazeera AmericaNational GeographicThe InterceptSouthern CulturesHuffington PostQuartz, the Oxford AmericanLe Monde diplomatique, and others. In February 2014, he started the crowdsourced Looking at Appalachia project. May speaks about his work, about the visual representation of Appalachia, and photographs on commission.


Along with the director, the photo editorial team reviews submissions for the project. Given the diversity of the region, broad range of images submitted, and the inevitable subjectivity present with one person curating such a project, we work as a team to curate work submitted.

Aaron Blum is an eighth generation West Virginian, who creates art deeply linked to his home state. His unique personal history inspires his creative work, which contrasts Appalachian stereotypes with representations of an upper middle class heritage. He currently lives in Pittsburgh and teaches photography at Carnegie Mellon University West Virginia University, and Pittsburgh Filmmakers. He has exhibited his work both nationally and internationally at such places as the Halpert Biennial: Appalachian State University, The Silver Eye Center for Photography and the Houston Center for Photography. He has been selected as the 2011 jurors choice award winner for the project competition at Center, the Santa Fe Center for Photography, and is included in many private and permanent collections such as the Houston Museum of Art and the Haggerty Museum of Art.

Chris Fowler is a native of the Eastern North Carolina’s rural coastal plain. Fowler is a documentary photographer, folklorist, and curator. He holds degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, including his MA in Folklore. In 2011 he was awarded a Lewis Hine Documentary Fellowship from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. He has done ethnographic work in New England and throughout the South, most extensively in North Carolina. Currently, his time spent running his business, Chris Fowler Photo, where he serves a variety of corporate, non-profit, and editorial clients as well as a number of ongoing personal projects.

Kate Fowler is a documentary photographer and filmmaker from Richmond, Virginia. Much of her work is based in West Virginia and is related to the environment and its effect on the individual. She's a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University with a BFA in photo/film, where so co-directed the school student art gallery and interned at LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph. Her work has been shown in galleries and film festivals internationally, including the Black Box Exhibit in Paris and at the On Photography Film Festival as a part of Holland Foto Week and Netherlands Photo Museum. She was chosen by FotoDC as one of their 2012 Uncover/Discover photographers, where she exhibited her project 'Nitro'. Her photographs and writing have been published on Burn Magazine, FeatureShoot and the Oxford American. Kate has recently accepted a job with Spazio Labo'/Photo Workshops New York and is relocating to Brooklyn for the position.

Pat Jarrett is a photographer and editor working with the Virginia Folklife Program at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. His work has also been published by the Washington Post, The New York Times, The Guardian in London, National Public Radio and The Christian Science Monitor among others. He has appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and CNN. His work has also been recognized by the Virginia News Photographers' Association and the Horizon Interactive Awards. Most recently his work has been shown at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art's New Waves 2014 show, curated by the Head of the Afternoon Sale in the Contemporary Art department at Sotheby's Charles Moffett. His work with traditional masters and apprentices with the Virginia Folklife Program is currently traveling the state. On his father’s side he can trace family lineage to the frontier of Virginia in the early 18th century and the Appalachian foothills in Ohio. His maternal great-grandparents settled in the mountains of Maryland from England and Wales during the potato famine and came to Ohio via the so-called hillbilly highway. He’s since moved back to the Shenandoah Valley and can’t imagine life without the Blue Ridge Mountains. 

Megan King is a photographer from Bristol, Tennessee whose work centers around the Southern Appalachian region. She is currently based out of Johnson City, Tennessee where she is a resident artist at East Tennessee State University from which she also received a Bachelor's degree in Spanish and a BFA in Studio Art. Work from Megan’s series Hispanic Appalachia has been featured in several publications including Oxford American’s: EYES ON THE SOUTH, The Morning News, and was recently paired with an NPR essay on diversity in Appalachia.

Raymond Thompson is a documentary photographer based in Morgantown, West Virginia. He currently works as a Multimedia Producer at West Virginia University. He received his Masters degree from the University of Texas at Austin in journalism and graduated from the University of Mary Washington with a BA is American Studies. He has work as a multimedia photojournalist for the Door County Advocate, the Times of Northwest Indiana, the Kane County Chronicle, Times Community Newspapers and the Washington Times.

Susan Worsham was born in Richmond, Virginia. She took her first photography class while studying graphic design in college. In 2009 Susan was nominated for the Santa Fe Prize For Photography, and her book "Some Fox Trails In Virginia" won first runner up in the fine art category of the Blurb Photography Book Now International Competition. In 2010 Susan was awarded the first TMC / Kodak Film Grant, and was an artist in residence at Light Work in Syracuse, New York. Her work is held in private collections, and has been exhibited at the Corcoran Museum during FotoWeek D.C, The Photographic Center Northwest, Dean Jensen Gallery, and most recently at the Danville Museum in Virginia. Susan was named one of PDN's 30 Emerging Photographers To Watch in 2011.


The advisory team assists with strategic planning, navigating opportunities and challenges as they arise, and identifying ways for the project to live beyond pixels.  

Rob Amberg was born in Washington, DC, in 1947. Educated in Catholic schools, he graduated from the University of Dayton in 1969. While there, he produced a slide-tape presentation that introduced him to the potential of photography as a tool for social change. After college, he was granted Conscientious Objector status to the draft and spent two and a half years in Tucson, Arizona, teaching nursery school as his alternative service. In Tucson, he produced his first published photographs – a piece on street preachers in a downtown park – and had his first one-person exhibit at Spectrum Gallery. He moved to Madison County, North Carolina, in 1973 and began what has become his lifetime project – writing and photographing about the evolving culture and environment of his adopted county. His first book, Sodom Laurel Album, was published in 2002 by the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke and the University of North Carolina Press. His second book from Madison County, The New Road: I-26 and the Footprints of Progress in Appalachia, was published in 2009 by the Center for American Places at Columbia College Chicago. To complete the trilogy, a third book, tentatively titled Shatterzone, is in progress. Throughout his career Amberg has been on staff or done assignment work for non-profit organizations and philanthropic foundations. His work has largely focused on rural communities, family farms, and the environment. His work is regularly published and exhibited nationally. He is the recipient of awards from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the North Carolina Humanities Council, the Center for Documentary Studies, and others. In 2004, he had the honor of presenting Sodom Laurel Album at the Library of Congress. In July 2012, Amberg began serving as a Visiting Artist at Duke University, working specifically with a Literacy Project for middle-school students in Madison County. In 2011, he began working with the American Forest Foundation, documenting the relationship between tree farmers and their land. He gave the keynote address at the American Tree Farm Convention in 2011 and will continue his documentation for AFF in 2012. Since moving to the mountains, Amberg has sought to participate in mountain life as much as he’s documented it. He lives with his wife, Leslie Stilwell, on a small farm where they raise gardens and shitake mushrooms, tend an assortment of animals, burn firewood, and drink water from a mountain spring.

Pete Brook is a freelance writer and curator interested in social justice and the politics of visual culture. He writes and edits Prison Photography, a website that analyzes imagery produced within, and about, prisons, with a focus on the American prison industrial complex. Pete holds masters degrees in Art History (University of St Andrews) and Art Gallery and Museum Studies (University of Manchester). Among his artistic and activist pursuits, Pete has lectured internationally on the topic of photography, taught art in prisons, volunteered with Books To Prisoners and served as a board member with University Beyond Bars, a prison college education non-profit. His work has been featured by The New York Times, The British Journal of Photography, Kickstarter, Featureshoot, Seattle Weekly and Dvafoto. He has curated multiple shows including, Non Sufficient Funds, Vermillion Gallery, Seattle, WA (Apr 2010); Cruel and Unusual, Noorderlicht Gallery, Holland (Feb-Apr 2012) which later traveled to Amsterdam, New York, Sydney and Ireland; The Depository Of Unwanted Photographs, Photoville, New York (Sept. 2013); and Seen But Not Heard, Kulturni Centar Belgrada, Belgrade, Serbia (Dec, 2013). Pete writes regularly for Raw File, the WIRED photography blog. He is currently working on a book about the history of prison photography, to be published in 2014 by Silas Finch. Pete lives in Portland, Oregon.

John Edwin Mason teaches African history and the history of photography at the University of Virginia. He has written extensively on early nineteenth-century South Africa history, especially the history of slavery, and on South African popular culture, especially the Cape Town New Year's Carnival and jazz. Current projects include curating a major exhibition of Gordon Parks' photography that opens at UVA's Fralin Art Museum in the fall of this year and writing a book about the photoessays about African-American politics and culture that Parks photographed and wrote for Life between 1948 and 1970. He is also a documentary photographer with a long-term interest in exploring race and gender in American motor sports.  Until recently, he was an active musician, performing with the Charlottesville and University Symphony Orchestra, the Lynchburg (Virginia) Symphony Orchestra, and the New Lyric Theatre, among many other groups. He contributes regularly to Ellingtonia, the publication of the Duke Ellington Society.

Joy Salyers is the Executive Director of the North Carolina Folklife Institute. She received her MA in Folklore from UNC-Chapel Hill, and has conducted fieldwork in several states, including a long-term life review oral history project, and a collaborative project documenting, through text and photos, members of a modern performance community. She is the current secretary of the North Carolina Folklore Society. Salyers has more than ten years’ experience in project management, including running her own consulting business, facilitating an innovative education program at UNC-Chapel Hill, and developing and executing projects with multiple partners, including county agencies, nonprofits, community groups, and museums. A decade of work in the white anti-racist movement informs her particular interest in the ethics and equity of engagement. Her work has been recognized with the Robert E. Bryan Public Service Fellowship from UNC-Chapel Hill’s Carolina Center for Public Service. Salyers is also an award-winning curriculum developer who has developed and taught courses at the elementary, middle school, and university level. She has taught courses for the certificate in documentary arts at Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies for more than ten years.

Elaine McMillion Sheldon is an award-winning documentary storyteller, visual journalist and one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film. Her most recent project, Hollow, communicates the issues of rural America through the eyes, voices and ideas of Southern West Virginians. Hollow is a recipient of a 2013 Peabody Award and was awarded 3rd prize by World Press Photo's Interactive Documentary Awards. Sheldon was chosen a fellow for the 2013 Future of Storytelling and has represented and screened Hollow at 46 events including, the 2013 New York Film Festival, 2014 SXSW Interactive, i-Docs Conference, IFP Conference, Camden International Film Festival, StoryCode NYC, West Virginia International Film Festival, Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Open Documentary Lab, Harvard University’s Berkman Center, the Museum of Moving Image and at dozens universities, libraries and high schools throughout the Appalachian region. In November 2013, Hollow was selected for the DocLab Showcase at the International Documentary Festival of Amsterdam.  She has produced two Op-Docs for the New York Times; West Virginia Still Home and For Seamus. Her work has also been featured in The Huffington Post, LA Times, The Atlantic, Filmmaker Magazine, POV blog, Matador Network and PBS MediaShift.  Sheldon earned a B.S. from West Virginia University in Journalism and a M.F.A. in Visual and Media Arts from Emerson College. She was born in Abingdon, Virginia but grew up in Logan County and the Kanawha Valley.