The Quirky Heartbeat of Middle America

Photographer Alec Soth Dropped in on Moose Lodges, Local Dances, and Megachurches—and Was Relieved to Find We’re All a Bit Strange

In 2012, photographer Alec Soth decided he wanted to study the way that Americans gather. So, like a community newspaper photographer, he dropped in on Loyal Order of the Moose lodges, local dances, family reunions, and megachurches across America. He even visited a convention of independent horror moviemakers outside of Cleveland. The three-year project turned into the coffee-table book Songbook, with related exhibitions at San Francisco and Minneapolis art galleries.

Making Songbook, Soth said, reaffirmed his affection for Americans’ regional quirks.

“If you talk to anyone enough, they end up being weird,” …