The Ogeechee
A River and Its People

Jack Leigh

"Leigh's vision honors the human spirit and the dignity earned from experience."—Atlanta Journal-Constitution


"Leigh chronicles in words and images both an untamed river and a vanishing way of life. For two years, he traveled the Northeast Georgia river, talking to hunters, fishermen and moonshine makers. The stories are as memorable as Leigh's duotones."
Orlando Sentinel

"Sepia-tinted photographs and shared anecdotes form an affectionate and plain-spoken portrait of the vanishing lifestyle of the rural South. . . . Leigh has captured a way of life on film that few outsiders will ever see."
Boston Herald

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Exploring the swampy woods of Georgia's Chatham County some years ago, searching out places to photograph, Jack Leigh turned his car onto an obscure dirt road winding farther into the forest. Finally driving into a clearing on the banks of the Ogeechee, Leigh found himself at Uncle Shed's Fishing Camp, and at the beginning of what would be a two-year discovery of the river and its people, a chronicle in images and words stretching from the Ogeechee's headwaters in Greene County to marsh flats near the Atlantic Ocean.

In his photographs and text, Leigh introduces such river natives as George Altman, standing knee-deep in water and reeling out fishing stories as he flicks his line into a shaded area beneath a fallen tree; and Jack Mikell, Sr., whose life on the river is told in the array of frying pans that hang on the wall behind him and in his recollections of long nights tending moonshine stills in backwater swamps. Leigh tells of the many stories the river holds—of the Muck Runners, Louisville men who each winter slog through swamps and deadfalls two hundred miles to Savannah; of Frank Cox, whose journey down river, taken in numerous pieces with as many reluctant partners, fulfilled a childhood dream; and of a woman's baptism in Warren County, at which beads of anointing oil mingled with the cold water of the rushing river.

At Uncle Shed's Fishing Camp, as tales of fish fries and courtship conjure up more than fifty years on the Ogeechee, the camera ranges across the clearing, capturing the pattern of river life in the faded letters of a hand-painted sign; in the weathered face of camp matriarch Bessie Dickerson; and in the scattered flowerpots, lawn chairs, ceramic swans, and gravestone that lie cluttered against a cabin wall. Recording the wild ramblings and lazy progress of the Ogeechee, the quiet rituals and raucous stories of its people, Jack Leigh chronicles the course of lives that run with the current of the river.

A Wormsloe Foundation Publication

Page count: 184 pp.
Trim size: 9.25 x 11.75

Read more about the Ogeechee River at the New Georgia Encyclopedia.


List price: $46.95

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Jack Leigh's award-winning photographs are in numerous private and corporate collections and have also appeared in museums, magazines, and newspapers across the country and abroad. He is the author of five highly acclaimed books of photography: Oystering: A Way of Life; The Ogeechee: A River and Its People; Nets and Doors: Shrimping in Southern Waters; Seaport: A Waterfront at Work; and The Land I'm Bound To. His most famous and widely recognized image is the photograph for the book cover of John Berendt's international bestseller, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Leigh lives in Savannah, Georgia.