Call for submissions!

Events, Projects in Progress

Good news everyone! We are teaming up with the awesome folks at Furthermore for a one night photo projection on November 7, 2013 in Washington, D.C.. All subject matter, styles, and formats of photography are welcomed and we will even be creating a new Petty Thieves zine to be released at the event. Send us up to two high-resolution images to, along with a bit of information about yourself, and whether or not you’d like your images to be considered for the zine. You can submit even more images through our Flickr group, Petty Thieves, which will also be a source for the event.

DEADLINE: October 31 {October 20 for zine consideration}

We look forward to seeing what everyone submits and if you have any questions or concerns, please email those along with your submission. Spread the word and stay beautiful!

– E.S.

Currently Untitled

Pictures, Projects in Progress

For about a year now I’ve been telling myself I’ve been taking pictures of nothing for nothing, and while that may or may not be true, I feel I’m finally done with whatever it is I have been doing. It’s time to move on and try something new at the very least and while I wish I could write something more profound about what this episode has taught me, I feel I may be more lost now then when I started (but that’s probably fine too). I’ve had a lot of ideas come and go over what to do with these images but as the amount of images kept growing, all that really remained of those ideas are little lists like this one:

  • Hymn Book For The Anxiety Induced
  • As I Was Chasing You
  • (Something with city slicker in title)
  • What A Mess…
  • Rejoice! That We’re Born Again
  • Nathaniel, This Is Your Life

Hopefully something more physical will come of all of this in the coming months but for now, here’s the tip of the iceberg.

ng_001 ng_002 ng_003 ng_004 ng_005 ng_006 ng_007 ng_008

11 Pictures from Summer

Pictures, Projects in Progress

Summer may be winding down, but these hot and humid days I’ve grown accustomed to will surely last till at least early October. Summer’s never long enough, it seems, to get everything you want to do. The longer daylight hours for making pictures is truncated a little more each day. I think it’s important to bottle up those hours and save them for a grey winter day. While working on my larger projects this summer, a small 35mm camera has never been far out of my reach. It’s a practice I’ve never really tried until last year, but even then I was frustrated at its size for my large frame, tiny viewfinder, and cutting those minute negatives after processing. I’d always end up cutting into a frame. Maybe I’ve gotten better at it this summer. With my camera almost always accompanying me, these images were taken through the course of late May through just last week, the first week of September. It’s a mode of working I haven’t worked with extensively since my freshman year of college and I have a feeling it might make a comeback.

Parsonage, near Hickory, NC
Hog Racing, Newton, NC
Hickory, NC
Newton, NC
County Fair, Hickory, NC
Camino, Hickory, NC
Hickory, NC
Hickory, NC
Claremont, NC
Hickory, NC
Hickory, NC

Never Say Die

Events, News, Pictures, Projects in Progress, Spotlight, Text, Travel

I don’t know when it hit me, but I am glad it did. Somewhere in southern Ohio a plan was hatched to make it to Chicago & hitch a ride back east & luckily for me I had time to think about this plan & how much I hated it. It may have been the drunk text that read “Goonies Never Say Die,” the whiskey conversations, or the thought of friends on the left coast, but I am doing this. I’m all in at this point, eyes toward the westward sky, legs pumping away. I want you to be able to follow me, so I am offering a postcard sale. Roughly every 3 days I will be sending out a batch of postcards of photos of my trip so far, with stories or poems on the reverse. They will be 2 dollars each & are available here in the Empty Stretch store. If you would like more than one, please just change the quantity. Below are the first two postcards that will be going out.

Postcards can be purchased here.

Lancaster, OH
Richwood, WV


Feature, Projects in Progress, Spotlight, Travel

Somewhere after mile 30 it really hit me. Not quickly but more so in waves. My bike tires smoothed to a stop as I rested against a chaine link fence on an overpass & looked out over a highway. Was I really doing this? Did I really think I could bike across the country? Why was I doing this & how come no one turned to me & said “you’re absolutely nuts, what are you thinking?” But none of that matters right now because, I am sitting in an old friend’s apartment in Morgantown, West Virginia & mapping tomorrows ride, 73 miles & then another 70 the day after that, & on & on, til the pacific.

Winchester, Virginia

After mile 30 I climbed & pushed thru Purcellville, got a locals directions & headed south & pretty soon west again through a sunset & up hills til my legs couldn’t push anymore. I veered off & laid out in a circle of trees, damp grass & little specks of stars hinting above. & I lost it. I laid there thru the night wrapped in my sweatshirt counting the seconds I could keep my eyelids open with the hopes of tiring myself out. But, soon it was sunrise & I was back at it.

Romney, West Virginia

I don’t know why I am doing this or even that I will make my eventual goal but there’s that old quote “a ship in harbor is safe, but that’s not why ships are made.” Well this ships sails are ragged, but they’re still catching wind.

Morgantown, West Virginia

Live Forever

Feature, Petty Thieves, Pictures, Projects in Progress, Travel

If you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you may have learned by now that we love our friends & we are not afraid to let it be known. With summer, comes new projects, what follows is a round-up of what our friends are doing.

Corcoran Alumni Michael Evnen, is a few thousand miles into an exploration & documentation of America. Evnen has never given us anything short of beautiful photographs & good stories, as his blog of his travels will prove. Please follow his movement here.

Boulder, CO
Old Faithful

Empty Stretch favorite, Sarah Katherine Moore, is planning new projects, as well as a move to Santa Fe. To help raise funds, she is having a print sale, with photos from her series Scape, Expanse, & Just A Sigh. The photos are beautiful & the prices are reasonable, please take a look.

fts Scape
fts Scape
fts Expanse

Jake Jones & Petty Thieves alumni, Andrew Kenney, are currently on a road trip that will cover 48 states. Thru Kickstarter they raised funds for a postcard series, if you missed the Kickstarter don’t worry, you can still get the postcards here & follow their travels here.

Jake Jones fts Thailand
Jake Jones fts While I Work
Andrew Kenney- San Francisco, California

Hang Your Head

Pictures, Projects in Progress

Springtime in North Carolina feels more like summer. Not just because of the weather, though, although I think today topped out at about 80-degrees. When I’m home, like I am now for only a week, I find myself photographing like a fiend, albeit an inspired one. I’ve had this idea for a while, an idea for a photo book about the legend of Tom Dooley whose story is the epitome of Southern mythology. The short version of the legend of Tom Dula says that the man killed a woman named Laura Foster shortly after returning back to the foothills of North Carolina after the Civil War and buried her in a shallow grave. He was hanged a couple years later, but the story lives on in song, thanks to everyone from such music acts as The Kingston Trio in the 1950’s to, more recently, The Carolina Chocolate Drops. Dula’s innocence is still disputed today in North Carolina. In 2009, several members of the city where Dula was raised and later convicted of murder, pleaded to then-governor Mike Easely to Dula’s pardon.

Much like family history, tales from the past revolving around a pair of jilted lovers, become taller with age. And this particular piece of folklore is quite old. I have a book project currently in the works that I hope will tell all the sides of Tom Dula’s story: his jealous lover who supposedly killed his girlfriend, Dula allegedly taking the raft, and how it keeps getting told over and over in a variety of ways. In Appalachian culture, songs and stories of jealous lovers are commonplace, i.e. “Banks of the Ohio” — they’re murder ballads. And such is the working title for the book called: “Sweet Heart Murder Ballad”

Here’s some images I made the other day in Wilkesboro, NC where the Tom Dula story first unfolded.

"The 50's Diner"
"Love Triangle — Tom Dula, Laura Foster, Ann Melton"
"Tom Dula's Cell"
"The Last American Hero"
"Highway 321 North"

What I Mean When I Talk About the South

Pictures, Projects in Progress, Text, Thesis

“Memory believes before knowing remembers. Believes longer than recollects, longer than knowing even wonders.” — William Faulkner, “Light in August”

It’s been a while since I’ve written about my pictures regarding my senior thesis. So here’s an update. Since my crusade of shooting 100 sheets of 4×5 film during the summer, I’ve dabbled here and there in Northern Virginia, much closer to DC than North Carolina, shooting only a little bit. Thanksgiving break saw a 90-sheet increase in my shooting and later at Christmas, 140 sheets down. I took my first picture within the bounds of thesis during the first week of July 2011. It’s a portrait of my father on the beach. The last image I took for this project (for now) was of a red out building out in the community of Vale, North Carolina. The sun had just set and the landscape had sort of a blue sameness to it, except for this pale red barn out near my great aunt’s house. I’m not one to take pictures of barns, but with one last sheet left, I couldn’t resist the visual symmetry on this clear, winter’s evening. Sometimes you have to take those kind of pictures to get to the next ones. Both of these images I described were taken in extreme circumstances, 100+ degree temperatures on a windy beach, the other, nearly below freezing temperatures out in the foothills. As of now, neither one of these pictures made it into the final edit.

A lot of things have come up when talking and photographing this project regarding growing up in the South, that is say, Southern memory, personal and historic. I’m not so sure “what’s Southern” can even be described in words without mentioning some of the stereotypes of the culture. The South I grew up is nothing like the South Bill Christenberry or Bill Eggelston photographed. It remains a part of American mythology. To me, what’s Southern is something much more simple than old storefronts, sweet tea, or NASCAR, although I have photographed those things to get to the next things. Coming closer, but never quite being able to define Southern heritage. It’s almost like living in a photographic paradox, separating what’s Southern from what’s actually American, or more importantly, what’s personal from what’s global. Of course I think it begins with the Civil War, but, writer Walker Percy puts it more eloquently. It’s a statement of his I still stand by.

“There is a Southern heritage, and it has nothing to do with the colonel in the whiskey ad. It has to do with the conservative tradition of a predominately agrarian society, a tradition which at its best enshrined the humane aspects of living for rich and poor, black and white. It gave first place to a stable family life, sensitivity and good manners between men, chivalry toward women, an honor code, and individual integrity. If one wishes to sneer at such values, let him; but I can’t help wondering if the sneer does not conceal a contempt for all traditions.”

I think that’s what my thesis is all about. Here are some new images from that body of work.

Great-Great-Great Grandfather J.V. Ozmint's Confederate Calvary Saber, 2011
Summertime Tomatoes, 2011
My grandpa Ed used to carry a buckeye in his right front pocket for good luck, 2011
Dove, 2011
Lutheran Men's Fish Fry, 2012
Near Icard, NC
She grew up in rural Iva, South Carolina during the Great Depression, 2011
Little boy blue come blow your horn, 2012
Opie's Rival, The Andy Griffith Show, 2012
Near Cat Square, NC
Momma under the hair dryer, 2012