Chris Dingus: Tennessee Back Roads

Published 4:38 pm Thursday, June 11, 2020

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Capturing the beauty in the overlooked has become a hobby for one local photographer.
Chris Dingus was born at the old Carter County Hospital, and lived in the area until around second or third grade when he and his family moved to Slidell, Texas, near Dallas. After Dingus grew up, he went on to work for a major aircraft manufacturer for nearly 20 years.
Dingus said he nearly died in various accidents, one that left him burned, and another that left his pelvis shattered, disabling him.
“That kind of gives you a perspective on life,” he said. “I don’t know how I got out of the car.”
He described the moment he realized he was on fire from the accident that left him burned.
“I remember the very distinct sound of bacon frying in a frying pan, and I realized that I’m on fire,” he recalled.
Following his accidents, he would eventually return to Tennessee.
“I spent about a year in Texas before I finally became destitute enough to call my mom up. My parents had retired and moved back to Elizabethton,” he said. “I called them and asked them if they would let me move home. You know being 36-37-years-old that really sucked.”
Dingus said his mom bought him a point-and-shoot camera. This, added to the fact that his dad had been a professional photographer in the area prior to their move to Texas when he was a child, gave him experience in photography. Dingus said his father had shown him the basics of camera usage, and ultimately this became his hobby.
Dingus began photographing landscapes and things many overlook. He said that now that he has the time to do this, he enjoys appreciating what is right in front of him, and loves promoting the beauty of Carter County, showing this area to his friends back in Texas.
After he got on disability, Dingus purchased more equipment, including a drone, to enhance the quality of his work as his hobby took off.
He said after a while he grew tired of posting his shots to his personal facebook page, and created his photography page “Tennessee Back Roads.” The page has grown tremendously since its creation in 2015, now having nearly 20,000 likes to the page.
On the growth, Dingus loves and hates it. He wants to keep his page as drama free as possible, and instead provide a space for people to appreciate the beauty of the area. He used the term “safe haven,” preferring this over “safe space.”
While many have appreciated his work, some as far out as New Zealand on his page, Dingus said he does not want his hobby to get turned into a hassle. For him, this allows him to get out of the house. He now goes all over the area, capturing various elements of the county.
As he spoke of his work, Dingus described editing photos from what the camera gives him. He said raw photos from the camera, which may not have as bright of colors as we would want to see with the eye, mirror what he would see during depression. He takes these images and turns them into what he saw when he captured the shot.
“In my own opinion, if you’ve almost died as many times as I have, the perspective you see everyday, whether it’s a flower or a bee on a clover, it is gonna be a little different as a result,” he said.
To check out his work, you can go to “Tennessee Back Roads.”

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