‘My Alabama: John Dersham Photographs a State’ invokes memories with a book of breathtaking photographs


By Michelle Key

“My Alabama: John Dersham Photographs a State” is an incredible compilation of 200 images taken from within Alabama’s 67 counties. The book celebrates Alabama’s 200th birthday.
The stories the photographs tell stretches from the mountains of North Alabama to the beaches of the Gulf Coast; from the waterfalls and oaks in Lee County at the edge of the Eastern state line to the cotton of western Sumter County. Each photo or series of photos showcases the beauty and diversity of this great state.
Marshall County
Dersham included several photographs from Marshall County. Those images invoked deep-seated memories within me. I was born and raised in Marshall County and I have probably visited the site of every single one of those photos at some point during my life. Dersham includes breathtaking views of Guntersville Lake, the very lake where at the tender age of 17, I said yes when presented with an engagement ring. The images of the rural landscapes look as if they were taken in my backyard.
DeKalb, Etowah, Madision Counties
Growing up in the semi-rural Marshall County meant that much of our back-to-school shopping, date nights and entertainment took place in the surrounding DeKalb, Etowah or Madison counties.

  • DeKalb
    My mother’s family still lives in DeKalb County and many days were spent there exploring. Little River Canyon is well-represented in My Alabama as is Lookout Mountain. The Lookout Mountain Parkway begins in Alabama and ends in Chattanooga. Fort Payne was home to the country music’s June Jam featuring the legendary group ‘Alabama.’
  • Etowah
    Back-to-school shopping always meant a trip to the Gadsden Mall and I remember begging my mom if we could stop at Noccalula Falls before heading home. Scrambling down the rocks to capture the view from behind the falls like Dersham’s photo on page 173 was a popular challenge for us young teens.
  • Madison
    Some of my favorite memories were spending long summer days at the Huntsville Space and Rocket Center in Madison County with my cousin and with friends.
    As a mother, I have had the pleasure to watch my own children experience this treasure of north Alabama.
    Lee County
    Lee County has been my home since 2011. Dersham includes photos of the beautiful ‘Founder’s Oak’ tree and the falls at Chewacla State Park. Both are icons of Lee County that are visited by residents and visitors year round.
    Opelika is know for its gorgeous Azalea Trail every spring and Dersham’s photo of a local azalea bloom showcases the beauty that can be found throughout the region every year.
    This beautiful, well-planned book is nothing but a pleasure to see as I flip the pages. So many of them bring the memories I have shared to mind as well as others.
    I suspect that this book will illicit such sweet memories from anyone that has spent time in our great state.
    While the book contains photos from each of the state’s 67 counties, it is organized by the seasons starting with winter. Dersham’s use of light and his attention to detail brings each of these photographs to life.
    As one hears so often, ‘A photo is worth a thousand words’ but Dersham’s photos left me speechless.
    About John
    According to NewSouth Books, Dersham is an internationally recognized, award-winning photographer, whose art photography and commercial work has been featured in gallery and other exhibits nationwide. He is one of the most sought-after photography instructors and speakers in the subject of photography in the Southeast. He spent 30 years working for Kodak and says he developed his love of photography when he started taking photos with a 1930 Kodak Brownie. He is currently the President of DeKalb Tourism and My Alabama: John Dersham Photographs a State is the first published book devoted to his work.
    My Alabama is published by NewSouth Books in Montgomery and is available online and through local book retailers.


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