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Bryan Thomas January 17, 2011

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Ohio University, United States.

Nelsonville, Ohio 2010

Bryan Thomas (b. 1982, USA) is completing a master’s degree at Ohio University’s School of Visual Communication. Bryan graduated from Dartmouth College with a degree in English, in 2005.  Following college, Bryan worked on the editorial at GQ Magazine for over two years; ultimately, returning to school in the fall of 2008.  He has  since taken classes at the School of Visual Arts, the International Center of Photography, and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Bryan interned at The Concord Monitor and attended the Eddie Adams Workshop in 2010. He’s been recognized by PDNedu, Sportsshooter.com, and The Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar. His work has been exhibited at the Getty Images Gallery in London. In January 2011, he’ll begin a six-month internship at the St. Petersburg Times.”

About the Photograph:

“This photo was taken in Nelsonville, Ohio during the winter of 2010.  After driving around with a group of teenagers looking for a fight, Sean Stump was leaning out the window of a friend’s car to see if his opponent was going to show up.  During that winter, I’d begun a project “The Things We Did While You Were Gone” about growing up in the town of Carbondale, Ohio.  Carbondale, like many towns in Southeast Ohio, was a former coal town that, after decades of relative success, had fallen into decline and disrepair since the extractive industry had left town. The odds facing these kids were staggering. At least one-third of Carbondale was living below the poverty line, the median age of a household was only 26 (ten years below the national average) and a combination of drug-addiction, crime, and/or disability had effected almost all of the households where I spent time.”

“Boredom and the dual threats of idle crime and drugs were ever present. With the generation that had known Carbondale as a coal town slowly moving out or passing away, it was interesting to see how kids built their own identities in a place whose identity now existed in name only. On this day, Sean’s opponent never showed up, and Sean and his friends eventually returned to Carbondale, excitedly talking about a fight that never materialized.  When I got home and looked at this photo, I recognized Sean’s expression and body language as a combination of so many different emotions that I’d also felt at his age; I was struck by the universality of youth, despite such profound differences in the areas and circumstances in which we grew up.”