Kickstarter Pick of the Moment: Hello America

Books Features America

From time to time, your friends at Paste scour Kickstarter to find projects worthy of your support and love. Support independent art today by becoming a backer, and spread the word, why don’t ya?

We usually bring you film-related favorites, but today’s pick is actually a photography book project, and it’s got a strong connection to us — it’s headed up by former Paste intern and current contributor Kristen Blanton, and it’s called Hello America.

Blanton and three friends (two couples, actually), are embarking on a four-month odyssey across the United States to document what life looks like in this country of ours these days. They’ll publish a book at the end of the project. But there are three big things you should know about that distinguish this particular project from other similar ones you may have heard about.

First, they’re shooting exclusively on film; no digital cameras will be used on the project at all. It’s an intriguing old-school choice that we’re confident will lead to some interesting results.

Second, they’re not raising any of the money for hotel rooms. In fact, they’re not staying in hotel rooms at all. They’re staying at friends’ houses and camping, all the better to stay in touch with the heart of their project, the American people themselves.

Third, and this one is the most difficult to express if you don’t know Blanton, there’s just a great feeling around this project, especially in the earnest, uncynical way the friends have presented it in their campaign. You really should read the entire page for yourself, but here’s a taste (from the middle of the story):

“I graduated and moved from New York City to Austin Texas to photograph bands for music publications. I would stand in the photo pit with other photographers, very established photojournalist who had been in the business for decades, most with their DSLR’s. I was a laughable sight in this crowd with my Canon AE-1. And Yet.

“I captured images my true eye saw – the grain, the unexpected light leak, the melting colors of the sun at noon.

“I began traveling across the country covering music festivals. From Tennessee to the swamps in Florida, I found comfort in photographing musicians when I was on the road.

“I wasn’t yet fulfilling my ultimate desire to shoot the full and vast American landscape, but it was a beginning. As time continued, I found my subjects changing – I began photographing the crowds, the terrain, the expression in a face. This documentary photography gave me freedom – a freedom to capture true and honest life in the emotion of movement.”

Even if we weren’t already crazy about Kristen Blanton, that’s the kind of starry-eyed photographer we can get behind.

To support the Hello America project, go here (only three days remaining!).

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