Farming lives, past and present
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16 b Cherwell Street, Oxford. OX4 1BG
Dear [Ms Farmer],
Thank you for expressing interest in the Agricultured Project. The project is run by the Community Media Association with funding from the Millennium Commission.
We are inviting to farmers to explore, document and celebrate their lives and livelihoods through photography. Ten farmers from Oxfordshire are keeping a photo-diary and the photographs will exhibited on a website and stored in a digital archive. The project aims to increase public understanding of farming by creating a public record.
There are a few steps in this project:
1) Please find enclosed a camera and the postage/packaging to return it to us. The camera is very easy to use and is ‘point and shoot’.
2) When you have completed the film then return to camera to us. We will develop the film and return the photographs to you.
3) You’ll then need to label the photographs and post them back to us. Once again we’ll supply a pre-paid envelope for this.
4) We’ll be scanning the photos and they will be on-line by Spring 2003.
There is some suggestions on what you may to photograph on the enclosed sheet. If you have any questions or you’d like to contact me then my phone number is:
Lucy Michaels, AgriCultured project
Agricultured : farmer’s photo-diary
What to photograph?
The photographs are intended to document the working lives of farmers. The camera fits into a jacket pocket and we suggest that you carry the camera around with you throughout the working day.
We’re asking farmers to make the first photograph and only the first photograph, of themselves. Ask a friend or relative to take the picture. After that, you should be taking the photographs yourself.
More generally, the photos could be of people, places or things, for example someone you work with, a place like a farm building or a stock market or things like tools you use. Another way of thinking about what to photographs is to think about events or procedures, like planting, harvesting, repairing machinery or hedges, milking, etc which you take part in.
Use your imagination and you’ll soon realise that there are a lot of things which could be photographed, from the countryside to your kitchen table!
What makes a good picture?
The people taking part in this project are ordinary farmers, not the David Baily’s of this world! If you’re a photographer great, if not, don’t worry. You don’t need to arrange the things you’re photographing, but if you want to take a moment trying different camera angels then that’s okay. There are only a small number of photographs so don’t take more than a single photograph of any one thing, unless you make a mistake.
We recommend that you use the camera’s flash on all photographs, both inside and outside, as this will lead to fewer mistakes and it gives an attractive quality to the photos. You can photograph things inside, outside at day or night. The camera’s battery will continue working for the whole film.
The things that you choose to photograph should be meaningful to you. That is, they are part of your working life: things you come into contact with, people you meet, and places where you go. If you were a dairy farmer and there’s some part of the milking which you’re not involved with then there’s no need to photograph it. Perhaps there are special places for you too. One farmer I know-of, met his wife while harvesting kale with her. Another still has the stalls where he raised his first pigs. Why you choose to photograph something is, in a way, as interesting as what you photo. If your family take part in farming then you might like to photograph while their undertaking that farming activity but remember the photographs are about farming, not your family.
If you are uncertain about something then call me, Lucy Michaels on [phone number]. Thanks.
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