The big picture: the women of Water Valley, Mississippi

Photographer Carolyn Drake finally found a way to capture the town she had fallen for after she joined the local knit club

Water Valley in Mississippi is a town of about 3,000 people. People move there or stay there because they fall in love with the gothic revival Victorian houses, which exist in various states of renovation or decay. One of those people was photographer Carolyn Drake, who settled in Water Valley a few years ago, having returned from a decade of travelling in Russia and Asia, including a spell living and photographing in Uighur villages on the edge of the Taklamakan desert.

Drake spent two years in Water Valley hardly picking up her camera. She wasn’t sure how to photograph the place without it looking like a New Yorker’s view of “the south”. It was only after she became part of a knitting circle, an insider, sitting on her friend Katharine’s porch drinking IPA, stitching rugs, listening to true crime podcasts, that she found a way to do that. Knit Club, her strange and powerful book of photographs of the women of Water Valley, is the result.

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