Scenes such as this make me think of a time when the family farm was a common sight. In days gone by, the livelihood of family farmers depended on the manual labor of the entire family — adults and children alike.
Families worked together on their farms to cultivate and harvest any number of crops, or to raise and care for livestock and other farm animals. Their work days were typically long, and their duties often required them to work extensively in the extreme heat or cold.
Although I never worked on a farm myself, I grew up around farmers. My grandfather’s flour and feed mill was the destination of farmers who either sold their grain to the mill or had their grain ground into feed for their animals.
As a child, one of my distinct memories regarding farmers at the mill is of my brother and me helping farmers’ children shovel grain from their truck beds into the grain pit at the edge of the mill’s porch through which grain was carried to a storage bin inside the mill.
Jumping into the back of those large grain trucks offered a way to have fun, and I still recall the exhilaration of my bare feet sinking down, down into the sea of grain.
The best part of shoveling the grain into the pit was when the bed of a truck that had a hydraulic lift was slowly raised. That’s when the remaining grain would start rapidly falling into the grain pit — and we’d hang on for dear life as the truck bed reached its peak! It was simple, clean fun. Well, actually it wasn’t exactly clean, because we could be pretty dusty by the end of the day!
From such childhood experiences at the mill, I developed a lasting affinity for farmers and their families. They were authentic and unpretentious. They were hard-working and fun-loving.
With the demise of many family farms, I lament the passing of a way of life that has embodied the very best of human qualities and vocations.
When you look at a scene, how are you looking at it? Do you only see what is visible? Or do you also see what you’re feeling — what’s not visible?
The above photo is not exactly what existed the evening I photographed this lovely scene. That is, the contrast was lower; and the saturation was not as vivid. The horse also was not as “perfect” as he appears here. And while I did not fabricate the light or its angle, I did enhance it; and I strengthened the shadows.
Because I wanted to reproduce what I felt while photographing this scene, I’ve taken the liberty of greatly enhancing and retouching the photo.
So I’ve made this image what it literally was not, and yet what it was to me, emotionally. Strictly speaking, I could not submit this image for editorial purposes, precisely because I have modified it beyond acceptable editorial guidelines.
If, however, your goal is to speak from your heart with your photography, then you may feel free to “manipulate” your images accordingly. You just need to understand when you cross the line from editorial into personal expression — and how that may affect the use of your photos.