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SD Photographer Rediscovers Home In New Book

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Photographers sometimes say the hardest place to find inspiration is where you live. Tom Dempster found that to be true when he was challenged to showcase an under-discovered part of South Dakota's biggest city.

More than 2 years later, he's created a book about the north side of Sioux Falls.

Dempster is no stranger to the north side of Sioux Falls. A former state legislator, he's campaigned in the area five times.

"I really thought I knew north of 12th street, but one of the fun things about doing an inquiry like this is all of a sudden, once your start asking questions, you realize maybe you didn't know that much at all," explained Dempster.
For nearly 2 1/2 years, Dempster has devoted his time to exploring the area, sharing the its rich history and a look into some of the most intimate parts of daily life there.

"People were very willing to do this. I think there was hardly even, I don't think anyone said once 'No thanks, we're not interested,'" said Dempster.

He captured evening prayers at a mosque on 6th Street, the work done at John Morrell and Co., and vigils for those lost to violence. It was all part of an effort to highlight a part of the city he says has changed so much that it's become "unknown" even to those who live in Sioux Falls.

"We've had a tremendous proliferation of immigrants, new citizens, coming into our community," said Dempster. "It's not an easy thing for you to lose your language. It's not an easy thing to immerse yourself in a culture substantially different than yours."
Dempster says he finds people are what he wants most to capture--something you'll notice in almost every image in both his new book and other works

"When you're in India, they greet you with 'Namaste', which means hello and all that sorts of thing, but it also means 'I see the god in you and I hope you see the god in me' and I'm instructed by that," explained Dempster.
While he doesn't know where his camera will take him next "North of Twelfth Street" will remain close to his heart.

"North of Twelfth Street" is out on shelves now. You can pick up your own copy at Zandbroz in downtown Sioux Falls, at Barnes and Noble in Sioux Falls, and through the South Dakota State Historical Press' website.         

Photos shown are included in "North of Twelfth Street" and are copyrighted by the SDSHP.
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