Once almost a thing of the past due to the advent of supermarkets and hyperstores, the farmers’ market is fast gaining popularity again. People want to know where their food is coming from and what exactly they are eating.
Sustainably the planet benefits if we support the farmers’ market. In North America food travels on average 2,400 km in order to reach the table, while local BC (British Columbia) produce only travels a maximum of 300 km (even less in the area that I live). Eating fresh, ethically grown produce and meat is beneficial for one’s health. By supporting our local farmers we can make sure that they aren’t being gouged by the middleman, thereby ensuring that farmland will remain viable for future generations. A farmers’ market also provides a venue where one can meet friends, learn about the food grown in the area and connect with the community.
A farmers’ market is part of the social economy. A level of trust is developed between farmer and consumer in that the consumer is able to ask questions about pesticide usage, conditions of livestock and even visit the farm if they choose.
Sorrento Village Farmers’ Market (SVFM) was established in 2000 with the goals of increasing awareness of local produce that is ‘made, baked or grown’ in the area, provide a gathering place for people to get together, to foster a sense of community and to bring extra traffic into this small village. More background to SVFM can be read here.
Having never visited this market before, my approach was to engage with the vendors and strike up a rapport with them, telling them about my project and obtaining permission to make photographs. No one objected and all were quite interested in my project. I wanted to make sure that I had a good mix of close ups, detail shots, wide angles, candids and hopefully a decisive moment shot. I came to this market as a stranger, but have now become friends with many of the vendors, thereby joining this cheerful community.
For contextualisation, I have looked at the work of Sigma Talberg (farmers’ market in Southeast Urals) and Stephen Cysewski (farmers’ market in Thailand), James Ravilious (farming community in North Devon). My detailed write ups on their work can be found by following the links provided.
Demonstration of technical and visual skills: Materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills.
The brief requires one to use one camera and one lens. For this assignment I used my Nikon D7200 and a new Nikon AFS 35mm f1.8 prime lens. Initially I struggled with my compositions as the spacing in the aisle between the vendor tents was quite narrow and I couldn’t move back as far as I would have liked to in order to get full length body shots. I also discovered that the lens doesn’t have vibration reduction so had to concentrate on being extra steady. I am pleased that I chose to use this lens as it is fairly unobtrusive and I could get really close to people. I had to contend with some very contrasty conditions on my first and last days’ shooting, but I have managed to rectify that in post processing.
Quality of Outcome: Content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, with discernment. Conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas.
Apart from demonstrating my engagement with the market community I very much wanted to convey the ‘holiday’ atmosphere that is present and I believe that I have managed to capture the joie de vivre atmosphere which is quite prevalent among the vendors.
I am quite happy with the outcome of my images. I did find the editing process quite daunting, but using the criteria that is suggested by David Hurn simplified the process quite a lot as I found I was able to look at the work in a more detached manner, rather than emotionally. I presented my WIPs during two Google Hangouts (Live Forum – 2 June, 2019; Rest of the World Google Hangout, 3 June, 2019) specifically to get feedback on the flow of the photo essay and also to get feedback on the images I had presented. A few ideas were discussed regarding the exclusion and inclusion of certain images which I have taken on board. I printed out my contacts, categorized them according to my shooting list and then started playing with the visual order and taking care to create some visual rhythm with the orientation of the prints as well.
UPDATE: For Assessment purposes I experimented with the print size by sectioning one of the prints into four quarters and printing each quarter to A3+ size. More details on this experiment can be read on this post.
Demonstration of Creativity: Imagination, experimentation, invention, development of a personal voice.
The way I approached this project was to approach the vendors on a casual basis while looking at their goods and inquiring about the wares they make/bake or grow. I then mentioned I was doing a photography project on the market and this gained quite a bit of interest among the market vendors. I photographed at the market each week for a month and everyone was quite used to seeing me there and afterwards would just wave at me and carry on with what they were doing, while I went about with my camera. Establishing this connection was very beneficial.
I found I had to experiment quite a bit in order to understand my new 35mm lens. The walkway between the tents was not very big and I experienced some difficulty in being able to back up sufficiently in order to take full body shots. It has been quite a while since I have taken any serious photographs of people, having just come off the landscape module so I had to get used to working quickly again.
Context: Reflection, research (evidenced in learning logs). Critical thinking (evidenced in critical review).
I have tried to place my work in context, as noted above. I did, however, have great difficulty finding other photographers who had photographed similar topics though.
Apart from the course work, I have also been to the following exhibitions (detailed write ups can be found by following the links):
- Taehoon Kim – Finding My Father at Yongpyong
- Barrie Jones – Berlin Project II 1945-2018
- Christos Dikeakos – Patisserie Duchamp
- Jim Breukelman – Altered States
I have made a start on documentary research and accomplished the following:
- Chapter 1: The Documentary Impulse by Stuart Franklin
- Three journal articles on farmers’ markets (salient highlights)
- Research into the structure and policies of Sorrento Village Farmers’ Market
- Krassowski, W. (2004) ‘Three Things on Teaching and the Taught’ In: Eight Photojournalism 3 (1) June 2004 pp.32–34
I also did an online MOOC through FutureLearn, presented by the University of Leeds on Critical Thinking, which I hope will be useful in honing my writing skills.
I have taken part in the following hangouts:
- Rest of the World Hangout – 3 June, 2019
- LiveForum – 2 June, 2019
- Documentary Hangout – 23 May, 2019
- Rest of the World Hangout – 28 April, 2019
- Documentary Hangout – 25 April, 2019
I also viewed Is There a Picture, a documentary film about the work of the original Vancouver photoconceptual artists, namely Jeff Wall, Rodney Graham, Christos Dikeakos, Marian Penner Bancroft and Ian Wallace.
BC Association of Farmers’ Markets (s.d.) Why BC Farmers’ Markets – BCAFM. At: https://bcfarmersmarket.org/why-bc-farmers-markets/ (Accessed on 31 May 2019)
Hergesheimer, C. and Kennedy, E.H. (2010) Farmers Markets, Local Food Systems and the Social Economy. Canadian Centre for Community Renewal (CCCR) on behalf of the BC-Alberta Social Economy Research Alliance. pp.1-63
Hurn, D. and Jay, B. (2011) On Being a Photographer: A Practical Guide. Anacortes, WA: LensWork Publishing.
Kurland, N.B. and Aleci, L.S. (2015) ‘From civic institution to community place: the meaning of the public market in modern America’ In: Agriculture and Human Values 32 (3) pp.505–521. [online] At: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10460-014-9579-2 (Accessed 30 May, 2019)
Sorrento Village Farmers’ Market (s.d.) ABOUT – Sorrento Village Farmers’ Market. At: https://sorrentofarmersmarket.ca/about/ (Accessed on 29 May 2019)
Wittman, H. et al. (2012) ‘Linking Local Food Systems and the Social Economy? Future Roles for Farmers’ Markets in Alberta and British Columbia’ In: Rural Sociology 77 (1) pp.36–61