Over a month of Saturdays, that all the time I spent photographing Ray Hicks. Add in the six or seven day trips up on Beech Mountain, that’s still not really a lot of time, until I admit those Saturdays were spread over thirty-three years. And virtually all of those Saturdays were during the first week in October, or mid “Septober” as Doc McConnell would have it.
Back in the days of that stuff called “film”, I shot thousands upon thousands of images of Ray telling stories, and of course Ray did not need to be on stage to tell.
Some of my favorite images were just hanging out with Ray on the festival grounds in Jonesborough, plus those wonderful opportunities to photograph him at home on Beech Mountain with Rosa and Ted. I have been honored to have my images of Ray be the centerpiece of my collection at the Library of Congress.
Ray Hicks was a captivating storyteller. You had to lean on every word, especially as you tried to decipher phrases laced with his deep Elizabethon mountain accent. His facial expressions were wonderful and brought my images to life. Listening to Ray tell was taking a step back to a time before electronic communication, when we were all neighbors, listening to one another, helping one another, and respecting each other.
Tom Raymond, Photographer
National Storytelling Festival