For those who have been following along, I had a really exciting opportunity this summer! Way back in May, I was approached to shoot for The BC Farmers’ Market Trail, a campaign funded in part by Destination BC to help drum up some tourism and hype for the amazing Farmers’ Market scene in British Columbia (and specifically, in my case, helping get some images for our Northern BC/Central BC markets).
This opportunity was beyond exciting for me. When I first cracked into the photography game, one of my pie-in-the-sky dreams was to be able to shoot for Destination BC (I often cited the photography for the BC Ale Trail as being my dream job) and here the offer was, like a year later. I love this region so much, AND I have always loved, and advocated for our community Farmers’ Market so this was such a wonderful intersection. I quite literally jumped at the chance.
I wanted to write a blog about the experience of working with an ad agency, showing off some of my favourite shots of the markets, and finally talking a bit about the experience. This is going to be a long one, so grab some tea, and buckle up.
So before I jump into the individual markets, I want to just speak really generally about the learning experience. My approach definitely changed as I did more and more markets and I think my style really grew as well. In general, by the end, I had a pretty dialed in approach. Many of the markets I was shooting were relatively small (some larger than others) but with exception of Chetwynd’s, they ranged from 10 to about 30 vendors.
I would usually begin simply by walking around and introducing myself to each vendor, talking to them about their booth display (and honestly, they were all so amazing and well done), and learning about their particular farm or craft. I’d usually then begin taking a few shots of their products, and, if they were willing, the vendor themselves posing and smiling with whatever it was they were selling. It’s funny because a lot of these shots will go largely unseen - I began to learn to think of them as warmups for both the vendors, and for their comfort with me walking around. I tended to notice that usually circling back once or twice would get a lot more genuine and comfortable reactions and a more genuine, authentic feeling of each vendor.
I think this part was really important. I have done product and brand photography in the past, and I really do think you need to know a product and a brand to understand how to shoot it properly. Getting to know these farmers, crafters, and artisans was also a really cool experience.
I got to learn about these really incredible people: a husband/wife peacher farm who have been doing BC Farmers Markets for over 20 years and recently downsized their orchard for the first time in their lives so they could “semi retire” (downsizing still meant 1500 trees and 2 weekly markets, by the way). I learned about family bannock recipes, the difference between a ripe zucchini and an overripe zucchini (which is very subtle, by the way) and many other snippets. I got to learn the complexities of running an organic farm and the meticulous planning that spans, not just seasons, but years and years in order to get the right soil or to avoid pests. I was really surprised by this part of the experience and how welcomed I was into these experiences. I know this sounds corny and like I’m embellishing but I assure you that there was this really neat emotional connection to the work I was producing and I look back fondly at the galleries with these experiences in mind.
A question I have been getting a lot is, “which one was your favourite?” and I think that there is not a fair answer to that. Each market (and farm) presented such a different experience and I think they all photographed in their own beautiful way (how corny, I know).
That being said, I think if I had to REALLY highlight one specific experience, it was definitely getting to spend a morning walking around Hope Farms with Andrew and Ro. Their passion for farming, their knowledge about every piece of farming (and humility around the mistakes they made) was just such an interesting morning. I could have spent an entire day walking around learning about them. On top of that, the shooting conditions were just so stunning and bold - it was a 6:30am shoot with a beautiful fog rolling through the fields which created this incredible palette of colours and moody tones. I could write a whole blog post just about those shots (and maybe I will one day!?).
I wasn’t sure the best way to go through this. At one point, I thought about doing a separate blog post for each market, but I think the best way is to just let the pictures do the talking. In total, I had the opportunity to visit 5 markets and spend a morning profiling a local organic farm. Below are some of my favourite images from each of my visits (in no particular order at all). Each market (and farm) had its own challenges (from weather, to tricky settings, and tough lighting) but I really enjoyed this whole process.
I do want to thank The BC Association of Farmers’ Markets, and especially Carol-Lynne over at The Number. I’m sure the scope of a project like this is not easy to wrangle but it was a lot of fun working on it and I’m grateful for the experience. If you want to see the full project in its entirety, head over to the BC Farmers Market Trail and/or be sure to follow them on IG.
Okay! Thats enough. Here are some photos!
I hope you enjoy!