An old boss of mine at a paper in farm country had a bag of one liners that he would rotate through on a regular basis.
One of the classics would be uttered as he’d look at a photo I’d made of a farmer standing among his crop “Looks like you photographed a guy outstanding in his field”, he’d chuckle and retreat to the daily meeting.
Mark Schoesler is the last full-time farmer in the Washington state senate and the kind of farmer I’ve photographed before – a busy one. I caught up with him on Friday morning at his house which overlooks the wheat farm that has been in his family for five generations. Naturally Mark had some meetings looming, so we only had a little time for him to show me his family’s digs.
I knew we wouldn’t have many natural moments to document as he had cleared his schedule for me. This is always the most difficult part of being a documentary journalist – trying to get someone to let you actually document them living in their natural setting. Most of the time you settle for making a few nice portraits before you’ve overstayed your welcome. So that’s what we did.
The paper ran the first image I’d made while Mark was still wrapping up some business on the phone. It as the one genuine moment from the entire shoot, and one that somewhat summed up a little of the balancing act he has to pull off every day.
But for the record, he’s still out standing in his field.