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ZipUSA: 45701
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By Larry Nighswander



And they're off! From dawn to dusk one cloudy day, 114 photography students at Ohio University head out to document a rural zip, and learn a few things along the way.




"It was such a horrible afternoon," student Lisa Lauck recalls. "Weather was crappy, light was crappy." But October 26 was the day I had set aside to send out our voluntary army of photojournalism students to document zip code 45701. As director of the VisCom school, it was my call. So they went. They left our launch meeting the night before with three rolls of color negative film and brief instructions: Engage your brain before you engage your fingers and be back at 9 a.m. the day after tomorrow for one-on-one critiques. Oh, and have fun. There would be no grades, but there was pressure. Could they beat out more than a hundred of their peers and win a place on our website and the 16-page supplement published by the Athens News? Could they improve their technique? Could they get that one memorable photograph? The weather certainly wasn’t helping.

After six years of the annual Dawn to Dusk project, local residents take our invasion in stride, despite photographers occasionally colliding with each other. Residents have seen weirder things, no doubt. In our eclectic zip, farmers and other folks passionate about the land mix more or less easily with folks passionate about ideas: artists, evolutionary biologists, geophysicists. They meet for coffee in places like Hebbardsville, in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Some people "move to Athens and fall in love with the town and never leave," says Lauck. "They do things like grow peppers and make salsa for a living."

For students the roller coaster begins at our group editing session. Nearly 150 prints (chosen by faculty from 12,000 frames shot) are taped to the walls—all creatively composed, technically polished, editorially powerful. Three hours later only 25 remain. Faculty argue and vote on each image; the students sigh and groan. Design work brings another 16-hour day. It’s exhausting, but none of us leave unchanged. The day after our website goes up so many people are checking to see if they were included in our photos, the productivity of the area goes down. The students have proved that they can do that most difficult thing for a photojournalist: to capture the unique in the ordinary.

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Did You Know?
Athens, Ohio, is the focus of many ghost stories and legends of hauntings. In keeping with its haunted legacy, Athens takes its Halloween celebrations very seriously. Every year ghosts and goblins, witches and warlocks, aliens and angels crowd the streets of downtown Athens to celebrate All Hallows Eve. The celebration is famous throughout the region and is thought to be one of the largest Halloween parties in the country with tens of thousands of people turning out each year.

—Elizabeth Connell

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Related Links
Ohio University, School of Visual Communication
www.viscom.ohiou.edu
See more of the VisCom students' photography, including pictures from other Dawn to Dusk projects on the school's website.

Passion Works Studio
www.passionworks.org
The creative programs of this art studio and the art work of its patrons are featured on this site.

Frog Ranch Foods
www.frogranch.com
Enjoy the family recipe that created a salsa empire and allowed an Ohio University alum to stay in his beloved Athens.

Athens County Historical Society and Museum
www.athenshistory.org
The society offers a comprehensive website on the history of Athens, Ohio.

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Bibliography
Daniel, Robert L. Athens, Ohio: The Village Years. Ohio University Press, 1997.

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NGS Resources
Angles of View—Capturing Sense of Place. National Geographic Books, 2002.

"Ohio—The Gateway State," National Geographic (May 1932), 555-58.


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