My love for art and making photographs started when I was 7 years old. I have been taking photographs every single day ever since, and for those of you that like math, that’s over 35 years of photographs. About ten years ago, after gaining some confidence in my early-thirties, I started my own photography business. At first, I did start out photographing families and children, un-posed and casual in gorgeous fields… although this was long before others decided to do the same and it became a national past-time. Five years later, burned out by copy-cat photographers and everyone with a camera, I very much wanted to make photographs that really mattered to me and that felt more personal.
In 2010, inspired by a few of my favorite photographers, (Dorothea Lange, Peter Miller and Cig Harvey) I began photographing local farms and farmers to encourage our growing local food movement, as well as feed my passion for documentary photography. My on-going series, Farm. Food. Life., was begun. The intention of my farm series is to use the visual narrative of photography to connect farmers and their communities because I want people to see who is growing their food and to understand the hard work that goes into farming. The resulting photographs compel us to think about the food on our plates, where it came from and who grew it.
I fell in love with farms in the first grade. It probably helped a little that my first crush was a cute seven-year-old farm kid that sat next to me in class – his family owned a dairy farm not too far from my house. But, bigger than that first crush, during my childhood in Vermont, I was surrounded by amazing farms along the Connecticut River Valley. Now, as I now make my home in southern New Hampshire, I am once again surrounded by fertile hills and valleys that have long sustained family-run farms and local agriculture.
In 2013, I published my first book, Farm. Food. Life: Photographs + Recipes Inspired by Local Farms. The book is a visual narrative of 12 New England farms, focusing on the hard work that farmers undertake to produce the vegetables, dairy products, eggs and meat that we eat every day, as well as farmer profiles. What I loved the most about photographing and making the book was seeing and understanding how every farm is so different in what they do and how they do it. I love meeting the farmers, walking their fields and greeting their animals, and I really enjoy hearing how much they love what they do and how important the work is to them. I am not afraid to show the udders of a dairy cow, or the end result of a meat or poultry harvest. I think it’s important, as an artist, to share these images with people so that they have a deeper understanding of the commitment it takes to run a farm and how important it is to make real food choices.
As of today, I have photographed over 50 New England farms. Each one as unique as the last, and I still get just as excited as ever to document the land and the farmers. I was asked how I was able to approach the farms in order to get the photographs, and to be honest, I didn’t start out with any sort of plan. I knew that I wanted to begin my farm series and I literally just called up the farmers to see if I could stop by sometime to photograph what they were doing. Many of the farmers were very agreeable, as they welcomed the opportunity to share what they do and how they do it. Once I made a few connections, I was able to gain confidence and call more places. I always time my shoots for happenings on the farm, like milking time, harvest or chores, as I am partial to action images, but I do love a farmer portrait as well.
I have been lucky in that my series has brought me new and exciting work over the last five years. I now shoot editorial for magazines, profiles for land conservation non-profits, and I published a 2015 Farm. Food. Life. Calendar last year. My goal is to continue to branch out and photograph farms in surrounding states, as well as increase my editorial and publishing assignments. I feel really blessed to combine my love for art, farms and food into a business that I am proud to helm – My advice to others: Take the chance, leap and follow your passion.
Guest post writing and images from Kimberly Peck
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