Looking at Appalachia Anew

Fifty years after the war on poverty highlighted need in Appalachia, Roger May set out to dispel stereotypes and redefine how the region was portrayed in photographs.

Just ask Roger May. He is a photographer who proudly calls himself an “Appalachian American.” Born in Kentucky and raised in West Virginia, he jokes that he enjoys “dual citizenship,” but he is serious about changing how his beloved region is portrayed. For too long, images that defined it were dominated by the usual visual tropes — of barefoot kids, rundown shacks and rutted roads — made at the dawn of the federal government’s war on poverty in the 1960s.