The American Tobacco Factory (ATF) was the home of Blackwell's Bull Durham tobacco, and the site of the first tobacco factory building, the Bull Building, built in 1884. Subsequently bought by Washington Duke and his sons, it grew to become the home of American Tobacco. The first mechanized production of cigarettes started here, and the world transitioned from 'rolling your own' to today's packaged cigarettes. The Bull Durham brand was known and in demand around the world; in World War I box cars of tobacco were given priority for shipment to Pershing's troops. Tobacco production was considered recession proof and many came from around the country to work and produce tobacco. The ATF was shut down in the mid 1980’s, and the buildings left to decay. For six years, with the permission of the developers renovating the site, I had access to the American Tobacco Factory. The power and wealth of the Duke family business is still evident in the craftsmanship of the buildings, the unique brickwork and architectural details, and the pieces of remaining machinery.
This book represents both a historic documentary of the site and a work of fine art photography. It shows the transition of a historic site and a photographic artist
Originally self-taught, I have refined my craft and photographic artistry through study with master photographers, including Howard Bond, Jay Dusard, Don Kirby, Ray McSavaney, and Bruce Barnbaum. I work solely in black and white as a fine art photographer using a large format, 4x5-inch, camera. This format enforces a slower approach to the subject matter and studied composition. Exposure and development of the negative is carefully calculated to bring about the visual interpretation of the subject. I am drawn to works of nature as well as the artifacts of civilization, and seek to portray in my prints a sense of design and order. Although the medium of photography is static, my works convey movement and force, a flow of shapes through the use of light. Isolating the abstract quality of natural and produced artifacts, I feel the viewer is allowed to see them for something other than what they are.