Jennifer is a self proclaimed country girl born and raised in Northern California. After joining social media, Jenny met a farmer from North Dakota. She followed her heart all the way to the rural prairies of ND where she is now married to that farmer. Besides spending time with her farmer, Jenny can be found with a camera in hand capturing the world around her, loves the challenges of bringing culture to the North Dakota prairie through a variety of culinary creations, and using her interior design degree to flip their bachelor pad into a home. All of this and more can be found on her photography blog: jldphotographblog.com.
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Well there is still plenty of snow on the ground and we are still experiencing sub-zero temperatures, but it is March. And that means, hopefully, spring time is around the corner! Springtime is one of my favorite times of the year. It's a new beginning for a new year on the farm, it's a re-birth of sorts as the snow melts to reveal the grass that has been hidden all winter. The grass is green, flowers bloom. It's such a beautiful time of year. Springtime, to me personally, means a whole new year to document the happenings on the farm. I document our happenings on the farm through photographs.
With one click of the shutter, a moment in time is forever captured. Today, photography doesn't require a fancy, complex camera and hauling around a bunch of gear. Photos can be captured using your smartphone. We take photos of all important aspects of our lives: births, marriages, first steps, first day of school. Small moments, large moments, emotions captured, where we have been, who we’ve been with.. All of these things are a piece of our legacy here on Earth. Farming is as much a part of our everyday lives as all of these other important events and it is indeed a huge part of our legacy here.
So why is it important to take photographs on the farm...?
1. Gives You Something to Share - We all love the iconic old time farm photos. There is something about old tractors, families working together, a farmer with dirt on his face that brings us nostaglic feelings. So much so that many long to reverse modern farming. But that is a debate for another time, the point is that we all enjoy images of farm life, it gives us something to share with those around us. It gives us visual memories to share with your kids, grandkids, or even your extended family. Everybody loves photographs, they love looking at photographs. And now with social media, photographs have the potential to build communities. Without even a spoken word, you can build friends through apps like Instagram or even sharing photos on Twitter or Facebook. The farm life interests people, it intrigues people that are far disconnected from the farm. Even every day tasks to someone outside the farm can be interesting. Never underestimate the power a photograph of a simple, daily task can have on someone looking from the outside.
For a long time, my Dad was what I call a "technological dinosaur". He didn't have an email, he wasn't ever online, and still carried with him a "dumb phone". He finally decided to upgrade, much to my surprise, to an iPhone 5. I didn't think he was going to like it, but now I get photo messages from him a few times a month. He reads my blogs and my articles on his iPad (he liked his iPhone so much we got him an iPad for Father's Day last year), he takes pictures wherever he goes, and he even has an email address now. My dad, although he still doesn't understand much about social media, understands the power of it. He understands that when he sends me photos of his every day life at the butcher shop and I post them on our Facebook, people become interested. It builds our community. And so, he continues to take photos. Not only do I enjoy seeing what is going on in his life as I am living in North Dakota, I enjoy being able to share those special moments with our customers, family, and friends online too.
2. Sparks Conversation - So let's say you decide to share an image of your every day farm task on social media. People outside of agriculture aren't only going to be interested, they may ask questions. Because they are unfamiliar with what is going on in the photo, it could spark conversation. They may be asking, "What is going on here? What is this?" This gives you the opportunity to open dialogue, share an experience, or educate through explaining what is going on in that image you just shared. Photos can often times pull on emotions much more effectively than words ever can. I think we see this all the time in animal rights groups. One image of an abused animal can have the potential to change the lives of so many people to turn against agriculture. Or think of the powerful images shared during the time of war. Photographs power charge our emotional responses, they spark conversation. By sharing your own images, you have the potential to facilitate that conversation. You are given a voice in the greater conversation.
3. Gives You a Visual Legacy and History - My mother in law every couple of years has an aerial photograph taken of the farm yard. She's been doing this for years. In my husband's grandparents house, grandma and grandpa have proudly on display, those images. It is so interesting to see the visual legacy started by my husband's grandfather and continuing to my husband and his brother. Grandpa proudly will tell you all about every building, when it was built, what year it was torn down, what the building housed, and how much it cost him to build it. The farm has indeed changed quite a bit since the first photograph, but as older buildings are torn down, new ones are built. Photographs like these give our family a visual legacy and history of the farm. It reminds us how much the farm has changed. And someday when our kids are grown and the next generation begins, they can look back on how the farm used to be when they started out.
4. It's a Reminder in Personal Growth - Personal growth is a good thing. Often times we get so busy, so stressed out, and so involved in the day to day activities on the farm that we forget how far we've come. Taking a moment to stop and reflect on images of the farm from years past is a great way to measure personal growth. Maybe it was that you replaced an older piece of equipment or that you've put up a new building that you walk into every single day. I've talked a lot about looking towards the future. But in order to progress, we must learn about the past...what worked, what didn’t work, and look back on how far we’ve come. Measuring progress is important and also allows us a great medium to share our own personal stories as well.
Photographs may be a simple record of existence, but they are so much more than that. They are a record of our legacy here, they are the trials and tribulations we experienced, they are the happy moments, the sad moments, the proud moments. Photographs can tell a visual story much greater than written words ever can. They can tell a different story, they can spark conversation. They can build communities. Taking photographs on the farm is important, not just for sharing with others via social media, but if anything, for our families. Our children, our grandchildren, and their future children. I invite you to start thinking about documenting those memories more on the farm. So that when you are long gone, there is something left of your legacy and all those hard years you spent on that same land.