New bicentennial book features the photographs of John Dersham

New bicentennial book features the photographs of John Dersham
Portrait of John Dersham in his studio and darkroom. (Steven Stiefel)
“My Alabama – John Dersham Photographs a State.” (NewSouth Books)

Alabama’s newest bicentennial publication, “My Alabama – John Dersham Photographs A State,” is now available through most bookstores.

The publication, developed in partnership with the Alabama Bicentennial Commission and NewSouth Books, showcases Alabama’s beauty and diversity as seen through the lens of Dersham, preserving the memory of the state during this bicentennial celebration.

“People misunderstand what Alabama looks like if they don’t live here or have never visited,” said author and photographer John Dersham. “It’s really an incredible story. … We have one of the most extensive, incredible river systems in the entire world and are the fourth most biologically diverse state in the country.”

“These photographs offer a unique and stunning portrait of Alabama’s diverse national, topographical and cultural assets,” said Lisa Harrison of NewSouth Books.

Renowned athlete Bo Jackson wrote the foreword, connecting his charity Bo Bikes Bama, and the experience of the riders, to the splendor captured in Dersham’s photographs.

From more than 50,000 images taken by Dersham, about 200 were selected to tell the visual story of Alabama.

Dersham, an internationally recognized, award-winning photographer, was selected more than three years ago to develop the project for AL200.

John Dersham has an eye for Alabama’s diverse beauty from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

A native of Pennsylvania, Dersham relocated to Birmingham during his 35-year career with the Eastman Kodak company. But his love for photography goes back to his ninth birthday, in 1960, when his dad gave him his first camera, a Kodak brownie.

“I took my first roll in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, on Nov. 1, 1960, and I haven’t put a camera down since,” Dersham said.

For Dersham, every photograph has a story, from waiting at the train depot in Wadley for hours hoping a train would come by, to catching the day’s only sun rays over the Tennessee River at Sand Mountain in five quick digital shots.

“I have at least one film and one digital camera with me everywhere I go,” Dersham said. He believes to be dedicated to a craft you should always have your materials with you because “a good shot can happen at any time.”

Dersham, who is president of Dekalb County Tourism, shares his love for photography by teaching and speaking about photography throughout the Southeast. “My Alabama” is the first published book dedicated to his work.

The photographs featured in the book also can be seen in a traveling museum and gallery exhibit currently on display at the Ottis and Evelyn Burrow Center for the Fine and Performing Arts in Hanceville. There will be a closing reception and book signing May 21 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

In addition, Dersham will be at The Alabama Booksmith in Homewood, on May 16 at 5 p.m. for the inaugural book signing event to celebrate the publication.

For additional information, visit NewSouth Books and AL200.

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