I’ve been really drawn to documenting rural life ever since I picked my first camera up. When I loaded my first roll of 35 mm film into my old Minolta on Boxing Day 1981, I looked out of my bedroom window and watched the sheep in the field behind our house. It was a Christmas card scene with powdery snow on the ground, and the outlines of the big oak tree were framed with a thin layer of white dust. I took my camera out as the afternoon light was fading, and took my first picture on my first camera. I know this photo is at Mum and Dad’s house somewhere, and writing this is making me want to find it!
And now in our commercial work, we’re enjoying working with companies who are based, and work in and with the countryside. This comes from a love of rural life that is an intrinsic part of both me and Suzi. We both have families who have or who are still farming. I’ve been wanting to take photos of my Great Uncle Harry on his farm for a while. I remember going to visit him and my Great Aunty Nora during school holidays. It always seemed such a treat to travel around the farm in their Land Rover, hanging on for dear life in the back as we were jostled over fields and bumpy farm tracks!
I took a trip over to his farm a couple of weeks to see Harry and my cousin Nicholas. We sat at the kitchen table with endless cups of tea, enjoyed a roast dinner cooked in the Aga, and looked at old photos whilst we chatted about farming life and family. I loved taking these photos, it was good to spend some time with Harry and Nicholas.
This is a little half pint bottle my uncle used to have for the milk the dairy farm produced. This was before the days of pasteurisation.
This was the perfect day to ease me back into shooting again after taking off time to be with Olive and Suzi. I learnt so much, including the difference between straw and hay which I feel really embarrassed about! I heard family anecdotes I’d never heard before, and realised how much I want to document my own family’s life. I’m heading back soon to make a film with Harry and record some of those stories. It was good to spend a day with him.