Native Midlander creates “Flatland Native” photography book – Midland Reporter-Telegram

A native Midlander has created a photo book about Midland and surrounding areas made possible from pictures he posted on Instagram a couple of years ago. J.M. Smith said he created “Flatland Native” to highlight the not obvious parts of Midland, which make the city interesting.
“I started to reread ‘Friday Night Lights’ last year because I have a history degree now,” he said. “Reading the book, then walking around looking at buildings like the old bank building downtown and the Petroleum Building, which has this amazing art deco architecture, kind of tells the story of Midland.”
He started his Instagram account yungbobkennedy to document Midland then took a lot of the photos from his Instagram for the book. He photographed everything on his iPhone 8. Photos feature the Scharbauer and Linebery houses, Midland Farmers Co-op and skyline of downtown along with other scenes in towns of West Texas.
He considers himself to be more of a writer than a photographer. He said the last paragraph of the book sums up his feelings about Midland and the project.
“The truly special thing about this world and about West Texas are the absurd things that don’t make sense or can’t easily be explained. But isn’t that the beauty of being alive? … So is it possible to hate a place that you love? I can’t particularly see myself living anywhere else, but can I be a ramblin’ man, like Hank, if I stay in one town? Do I not want people to change in this place or do I believe this place needs to change in some pretty drastic ways? Is Midland, Midland if it’s not really Midland anymore, or is Midland, Midland because it’ll always be Midland.”
Smith said he has aspirations to write something about Midland or possibly do another photo book about Texas courthouses. The book has about 10,000 words, 250 photos and 306 pages. He describes the book as a perfect coffee table book or topic of discussion for Midlanders. He started taking one point perspective photographs in 2018. He decided to self-publish the photo book last September.
Orders can be placed through his Instagram messages at yungbobkennedy or by emailing [email protected]. Books are $65.
Jacy Lewis is a reporter and photographer for MRT.