Project to capture ‘Faces of Black Mountain’

Barbara Hootman

Local photographer Herb Way has a special project in progress, “The Faces of Black Mountain.” It is a collection of portraits in progress that are significant to the town.

“The portraits are subjective and totally of my own choosing,” Way said. “I am photographing people who represent the character of the town. Some of those that I have done are Dr. John Wilson, Mary Soyenova, Mellie Bryant, and Nancy Brown. This is just a handful of the 50 portraits that I plan to do. Diana McCall is writing the information about each portrait used.”

Way hopes that a book and an exhibition at the Black Mountain Center for the Arts in 2017 will be the end results of his hard work.

Currently some of his work is on exhibit at the Red House Gallery in Black Mountain, and will be included in the gallery’s upcoming exhibit, Art on the Lawn.

There are also five of his prints, “Channeling Georgia” on display at the Monte Vista Hotel next door.

“Herb’s photography is special, “Susan Hanning, vice-president of the Swannanoa Valley Arts League in Black Mountain, said. “He has an eye for line and color and great design. His “Channeling Georgia” grouping is marvelous, and his design sense is most evident. He takes a lot of care in his work, and he is very talented. It’s a pleasure to have him and his work in our shows at the Red House and The Monte Vista Hotel.”

Joye Ardyn Durham, professional photographer and owner of the Ginko Tree in Black Mountain is impressed by Way’s work.

“Herb does some nice portraiture work,” she said. “His lighting works well for the mood he is trying to convey. That’s not easy for some photographers.”

The project “Faces of Black Mountain” began in Way’s mind when he asked to photograph Don Talley’s face who manages the White Horse Black Mountain.

“His face appealed to me as a representative of Black Mountain,” Way said. “I asked him in the fall of 2014, and the actual photograph didn’t happen until April, 2015. It was working with him that inspired me to do a collection of 50 portraits for “Faces of Black Mountain” project. This is significant to the town in my opinion and how I perceive it. I see people on the streets, in church, and some are recommended by others. This project is not a Who’s Who and not a history of Black Mountain. I posted my idea of the Facebook page of Friends of Black Mountain, and some references have come from it.

“I volunteer at the Open Table at the Methodist Church every Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. and some interesting faces that represent Black Mountain are coming from that event.”

Way served six years in the National Guard immediately after high school. He was also a military photojournalist and studied at the Air Force Photography School in Denver.

He moved to Black Mountain a little over a year ago from Montgomery, NJ located six miles from Princeton University campus. He was born in Newark and grew up in Orange.

“My partner’s best friend lives in Little Switzerland, and we visited her in April of last year,” Way said. “After the winters of 2013-2014, and the property tax bill, we decided to move to Black Mountain, and we love it here. It has a peaceful pace, and the scenic mountains were a draw to us.”

McCall is doing the writing for the “Faces of Black Mountain” project and says both she and Way are doing the project from personal interest.

“The project is a way to know the place that we call home,” she said. “Herb from a photographic perspective, and myself through interviews and wiring. I love hearing stories from what may seem to be otherwise ordinary people. I find everyone has a story worth telling, it’s just about asking the right questions. I receive a lot of joy in discovering these stories and connecting with people.”

For more information call 669-5586 or 908-490-0839 and visit