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The Photo Chronicles: Dan Higgins

Maine Public TV Air Times:
Thur., August 4 at 9:00 pm
Sat., August 6 at 2:00 pm
Dan Higgins, photographer, does not take pictures; he makes them.

Dan Higgins, photographer, does not ‘take’ pictures; he ‘makes’ them. By collaborating with his subjects and eliciting input, Higgins’ gains insight into the often-overlooked people and their stories. While much of the film revolves around Higgins’ work in Winooski, Vermont, this documentary reflects small towns and the people who live in them.

He moved to Winooski in 1969, after the woolen mills had closed and its economic engine had ground to a halt. Higgins’ work records an epoch that would otherwise be lost.

His remarkable images from the 1970s to 2019 reveal the social impact of the town’s many attempts at re-developing the downtown. He watched as urban renewal plans demolished half of the downtown, and later he documented the gentrifying effect of Historic Preservation programs driving people out. The town was impacted again by refugee resettlement programs, when the city became host to immigrants – from Vietnam to Somalia.

Through intimate vignettes, collaborative group portraits and video Higgins invites us into the myriad worlds of this former mill town. Though his photographs are beautiful in their own right, Higgins insists that their subject is community. By exhibiting his work locally, as he makes it, Higgins establishes a forum where residents are encouraged to participate.

As Winooski has become more socially diverse, Higgins has used his photography to build connections between groups, believing that everyone has a story and a place only becomes a community when those stories are shared.

Produced by Eleanor Lanahan.