HANCEVILLE — The work of North Alabama photographer John Dersham is currently on display at Wallace State Community College, documenting 50 years of his life spent taking photos.
Dersham’s work in black and white photography began when his father gifted him in 1960 with a Kodak Brownie camera he received from an Eastman Kodak promotion 30 years earlier. That led to a long and distinguished background in photography and the “Changing Moods – 50 Years in Black and White” exhibit that is on display at the Burrow Center for Fine and Performing Arts.
While using that little Kodak Brownie, Dersham’s parents recognized their son’s passion for photography and upgraded his equipment with a professional large format camera, a small darkroom with an enlarger and a film-developing tank. He went on to join the Mid Missouri Camera Club, which included professors from the University of Missouri’s photography and photojournalism school. He was mentored by photographers Roger Berg and Andy Tau, and he studied photography at Truman University and the University of Missouri where he maintained an on-campus studio.
Dersham spent 30 years working for Eastman Kodak and on his travels for the company he would always pack his cameras so that he could take photos of the interesting places he visited.
“I would get up pre-daylight and shoot till my first appointment, or I’d shoot late afternoon or night shots,” Dersham said. “I always found a way to shoot and I was out to perpetuate my fine art photography and nothing seemed to stop me.”
He earned his Masters of Photography while working with Kodak and his work was placed on display at Kodak office buildings, factories and photo finishing plants nationwide.
Dersham still prints all of his photographs in his own darkroom, using the highest quality products for the best archival prints that will last for years to come.
“I put 100 percent into this work and cut no corners,” he said. “I figured I have spent a lifetime producing this work, so I might as well take the extra time and cost to do it to last for future generations to enjoy.”
Donny Wilson, director of the Evelyn Burrow Museum, said Dersham’s exhibit is one of the finest examples of black and white photography he’s ever seen.
“The quality of work Dersham shows is amazing,”’ Wilson said. “The details in the photographs, the compositions, and the contrasts all evoke some feeling, whether it be nostalgia from a photo of an old country store or a sense of peace from a rural landscape.”
“Changing Moods – Fifty Years of Black and White” will be on exhibit through February. For more information, call the Burrow Museum at 256.352.8457 or visit www.burrowmuseum.org or visit Dersham’s website at www.johndersham.com.