I was first wooed by Asheville, North Carolina when I went to a friend’s wedding there in 2015. A year after, I fully fell for Asheville while on assignment there shooting a feature story for National Geographic Traveler magazine. What had resonated with me the most was the people. Whether they were native North Carolinians, visitors, or recent transplants, everyone loved the gem of a city tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
When I got a call earlier this year from Explore Asheville, the city’s tourism board, asking me to photograph the area as expressed through the people, it was an irresistible assignment. So in May, I found myself in Asheville and Black Mountain meeting people who were kind and open to a stranger with a camera. Over the course of a few days, I interacted with hundreds of strangers through fun conversations, small world moments, shared smiles, and a mutual appreciation for the area.
As a photographer, I’m continually surprised by the generosity of the people I meet and am forever in their debt for taking the time to be in front of my lens. Thank you to all the shiny happy people I met on this assignment who make Asheville a shiny happy place.
Enjoy this selection of some of my favorite images from my shoot in May.
Hemingway’s Cuba in the Cambria Suites Hotel is one of many rooftop bars downtown that is perfect for watching the sunset. When I saw this woman in a green dress, I knew I wanted to photograph her and it turns out she lives in another favorite city of mine, New Orleans.
Hearty barbeque rib platters at 12 Bones Smokehouse in the River Arts District. I know a restaurant is good when there is a line out the door the entire time I’m photographing there!
Sip sake under colorful lanterns at Ben’s Tune-Up in the South Slope neighborhood and you might even run into a real-life “Ariel” from The Little Mermaid.
The Asheville City Market in downtown serves up local food, drink, and produce and is filled with wonderful folks like these two women I met that morning.
A young family does their early morning shopping at the Asheville City Market.
When photographing for the National Geographic Traveler article, I met Josh Copus, the founder of Clayspace Co-op. Although Josh wasn’t around on this visit, I met ceramic artist Tristan Glosby at Clayspace while he was working at the pottery wheel.
Inside many of the studios in the River Arts District, you’ll often run into artists at work. At Riverview Station, painter Galen Frost Bernard works in oils for his contemporary paintings.
These women were exploring the multitude of galleries and artist studios at Riverview Station.
Downtown Asheville is known for buskers of all genres, from musicians and singers to jugglers and poets. Josh Lauth is a multi-talented busker who juggles while balancing on a board with his pet “Space Dog” on his head.
Shannon Monaghan is a poet busker who writes poems on a typewriter for people downtown. She wrote me a poem on travel.
Whether you drum, dance, or simply enjoy, a visit to Asheville is only complete after a visit to the Friday night drum circle. Here a young father dances with his daughter to the beat of the drums.
People from all walks of life come downtown on Fridays to enjoy the drum circle. I couldn’t help but move with the beats while I photographed the musicians and dancers.
These young girls try their hand at drumming with the Asheville Drum Circle.
Asheville is known for its beautiful architecture, including the Neo-Gothic Jackson Building in downtown.
I met this young boy along with his father, brother, and pet dog one afternoon at High Five Coffee in Woodfin. He’d just returned from an outing to a street festival where he’d gotten his face painted with a unicorn.
This was my first visit to the charming little town of Black Mountain, which is less than a half-hour drive from downtown Asheville. I was smitten with the colorful, quaint streets.
Busker Kevin Ali plays guitar and sings outside of Dripolator Coffee.
If I owned a garden shop, it would be like Mellie Mac’s Garden Shack in Black Mountain. Mellie’s is not only a plant nursery but doubles as a wine bar and local hangout.
I met this adorable family outside of the Hop Ice Cream Shop in Black Mountain.
To see more Asheville images, visit my Photoshelter gallery or check out the article on National Geographic’s website.