On my first day of work everyone in Sawyer thought I was a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent.
As a photographer I have had the law called on me countless times – but never before have I been presumed to be the law. I was pretty mystified, and more than a little amused. At 4’10 ½”, my slight stature hardly makes me an intimidating presence. On good days I look my age; all the rest I can pass for a teenager. Yet here I was, a high-ranking DEA agent sent to infiltrate this community.
Amusement gave way to frustration as the day wore on. Nothing I could say seemed convincing enough. The Kentucky Documentary Photographic Project was assumed to be a front for more sinister intentions, and, as such, I was getting nowhere with the pictures. What was good for a chuckle in the morning was but a grimace by noon.
A large format camera was my saving grace that day. The bulky, antiquated rig was what it finally took to convince locals that I wasn’t a spy for the feds. Surely a DEA agent would have something more efficient. And the childlike delight that the camera tends to elicit in me was apparently endearing. If I was crazy enough to run around rural Kentucky trying to make pictures with that thing, well, bless my heart. Before long I had people approaching me to have their picture made. I felt a bit like an entertainer, a traveling salesman or a performer of sorts, a notion that tends to flood my brain with images I have seen.
Image credits: The Old Sawyer Post Office, Sawyer, McCreary County, Kentucky. © 2019 Rachel Boillot/Kentucky Documentary Photographic Project.
For more about Rachel, go to rachelboillot.com