Photo Story: Hunter Barnes, "Faith"

Documentary photographer Hunter Barnes recently moved to West Virginia to document what it waas like to live in a small community of serpent handlers in the hills of West Virginia. This marks our third and last installment of photo stories with him. In this photo entitled, "Faith" Barnes tells us about how literal their faith is, Pastor Tommy Addair's serpent handling abilities and how their religion means everything to them.

"This is when they started [serpent] handling in the church service. I just remember the sound of it – I'll never forget when those things were rattling and when it rattles that means it's warning you that it's going to bite. And he [Pastor Tommy Addair] picked it right up and was talking about faith. It stopped rattling. It was like watching a little kid in its dads arms. 

They don't just handle at any time. They only handle when they have that feeling. I mean, there is nothing fake about this. They're wild timber rattlers. Not just anybody goes up there and handles. It's not at any point. It's just you can feel it – it's incredible. They handle on faith. Their faith in God is so strong and so pure they believe all of it. They don't just believe a little bit [of the King James Bible] they take every word literal.  Serpent handling means everything to them.These people treated me like I was family and were absolutely kind and giving to me."Hunter Barnes


Milk Gallery will showcase Barnes' latest exhibition "A Testimony of Serpent Handling" beginning today, December 13th through December 23rd.  Join us this tonight from 7 – 10PM for the book signing and opening reception at Milk Gallery.


RSVP here: [email protected]

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