Sunday, May 16, 2010

My Morning with Farmer Murphy

FarmerMurphy

I had the good fortune of photographing Farmer Murphy's magnificent barn two winters ago. The resulting photo has been one of my personal favorites.

In February, I gave Farmer Murphy a framed print. I could tell that he was pleased and proud that I recognized the beauty of his landmark. I asked him if I could photograph his barn a second time.....and this time I requested that he be in the photo. He agreed to it.

We finally got together yesterday. When I arrived, he greeted me with a firm handshake and I addressed him as "Mr. Murphy". He asked me to please call him, Dean. I agreed, but found out that "Dean" would not come out of my mouth. The only thing that would come out was "Mr. Murphy", or "Sir".

We walked and talked for about an hour before I ever took my camera out. We talked about life, farming and barns. And we talked about the likelihood that wooden barns will be gone in a few decades. In fact, Farmer Murphy is faced with a tough decision. He's torn between putting more money into the barn for necessary repairs or demolishing it. To maintain an old structure like this is very difficult and costly.

Times are tough for farmers. The need to buy seed, fertilizer, feed and to put food on his dinner table may soon outstrip Farmer Murphy's ability to keep the dream alive. Consequently, the days for his wooden barn or any wooden barn may be numbered. It's sad, but true.

Thank you, Farmer Murphy, for making my day yesterday. I've been so looking forward to spending time with you. In fact, I've been looking forward to it since that 9-degree January morning more than two years ago ... when you gave me permission to walk on your land and photograph your majestic landmark -- an American icon for hard work, a simpler time and a hard-wired connection to God's green earth.

May God bless you, Farmer Murphy .... and your difficult decision to come.

~*~*~*

14 comments:

Hindsfeet said...

Bravo, D...

A treasure on so many levels...

(ever thought of doing a photo essay of farmers in your region? Something like, "A Farmers' Fraternity"...bet Nat. Geo would snatch it up...this could be just the beginning...)

k, back to running my *own* world now.... ; ) haha.....

Wander to the Wayside said...

That's an award winning photo if I ever saw one, Dan!

We have many Farmer Murphys in our rural community, and a lot of barns in total disrepair and falling down. Rather than tear them down, we watch as they slowly become decayed skeletons housing snakes, rabbits, birds and no telling what else. Very sad.

Dan said...

Thanks, W2W.

I was in Italy a while back and I was speaking to a native Italian who said, "The architecture in America makes you look like a temporary society." Having been in a few cathedrals that were built in the 1200s, I could see his point.

In any case, I love those old barns ...and I'm gonna miss them. Maybe when I'm in your neck of GA, you'll take me on a little tour (hint hint).

Dan said...

A Farmers' Fraternity is a great idea, H. Maybe I already have a start, eh? Now I just need a great writer to assist. Hmmm. Just so happens that I know one.... ;-)

Hindsfeet said...

Sign me up!!!!!!!

Javier said...

Love this photo, Dan, and the story behind it... It seems little by little the world is becoming a very sophisticated, soulless place. What a sad sad loss...

Shutterbug said...

This is great. It is so much more than the visual for me.....gotta love the story.

BTW, I tried my new lense on the soccer field this weekend. It is going to take some adjusting, but Jerry gave me a brief pep talk when I stopped in the camera shop today to get my UV protectors on, lol. He simply said "you are gonna love it." Time will tell :O) Have a great week Dan.

Dan said...

Javi, well said - "soulless"

Great to hear from you. I'm enjoying following your photography adventure. Ron and I are going to Haiti together next month. Maybe you should meet us somewhere sometime. Wouldn't that be fun?

Dan said...

Keep me posted on the lens, Carol. Yeah, those take a little getting used to. You may want to bump up your ISO to ensure you keep your shutter speed high (maybe you know that). It's not unusual for me to shoot at ISO 400 in bright sunshine. When I shoot a baseball game, I'll go up to ISO 640 or 800.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely awesome Dan! That barn is one of my favorite photos that you have brought in. The second photo is just as great. What could be better than a photo of a farmer with a photo of his barn!
Cari

Dan said...

Aw thanks, Cari. Going back to photograph him is was a real treat.
Who knows, you may be framing this one for me, too. I *did* promise him another photo.

And I'm pretty sure I won't be going back to take a photo of the farmer holding a picture of the picture....

I have another farmer I am trying to do something similar with. He's quite an old-timer....saw him on his tractor tonight, but didn't want to bug him....YET.

Javier said...

The two of you taking photos together in Haiti! Sounds great, Dan! I still lack the skills and equipment to follow suit, but I'm pretty sure someday we'll finally meet and have a real good time together!

The day will come, I'm sure. In the meantime, I can watch and learn! ;)

Cheers, my friend!

Dan said...

Javi, you've got the "eye", my friend. You will go far in photography. I have no doubts.
- Dan

EjG said...

Not sure which I loved more...the photo or the commentary. Though I am not an old farmer--and not even a farmer, period--I have an old, wood barn in my backyard I would like to repair. It's Americana we are losing...how do we fix this for the other Farmer Murphy's?