I tend to tell our guests out here that I get the fun jobs out here at the farm—event hosting, tour leading, and the like. Our visitors keep the place and Flannery’s fiction fresh for me, out of what she called the darkness of the familiar. For that I’m grateful, and even moreso when our guests come armed with a camera and a willingness to share what they see here on their visits.
There’s first those visitors who have their phones in hand when they come in the door. The ubiquity of the cell phone camera is an aspect of modern society that I’m not completely sure I buy into, but I have a tough time arguing the point when I see folks’ first looks into Flannery’s room. A visitor from Wisconsin just this week spent more than a few moments at Flannery’s doorway, taking several shots as overhead clouds brought new shadows and diffused light in what would otherwise be a bright room over the course of a summer day. Even folks who don’t have much experience with Flannery’s fiction tend to linger a bit in the kitchen and dining room with their cameras as memories of grandmothers and old country homes come back to mind.
Visually, there’s a great deal to offer at Andalusia for our photographer friends. Professional photographers find a spot for their clients out here that’s far removed from the unsightliness and noisiness of daily traffic, and even on our busy days there’s always a quiet corner or two to set up a shot. On a recent Sunday, a future Flannery fan’s first birthday photoshoot was held out here and shared to our Facebook page; I can say without question that that little guy was the highlight of my day. The iron pot on the front porch of the Hill House has never been put to cuter use.
In town, the abandoned buildings of Central State Hospital have been a popular spot for photoessayists due largely to the stark and austere beauty of a big building left to the elements for decades. How they get in those buildings and survive I’ll never know; I can only imagine the tentative steps as what should be a solid floor sways and squishes under foot. The beauty here, meanwhile, is a far more charitable and welcoming version of austerity—we called it simplicity in years past, and that’s the lifestyle I try to celebrate as we welcome folks to the farm.