One Iowa woman’s journey to take photos with a purpose
Photos and article by Marji Guyler-Alaniz
I love the magic that can be captured in one simple image. A couple years ago, I was laying awake thinking about how blessed I am in life. Six months before that, I had left the comfort of my corporate job at a large agri-business in search of more time with my kids and the freedom to start my own adventure. Ok, so maybe I did things a little backward (well, backward to a Type-A planner like myself). I jumped first, hoping I would find what I was looking for in the waters below. One thing I did know is that I would continue with my photography.
I was able to make a change to spend more time with the ones I love, doing the things that I love. My loved ones and I are in good health. We have a warm home, filled with love. Friends and family surround us. I have an amazingly supportive husband and two crazy, but awesome, little kids.
As I thought about all that I had, I also thought about what I could do to give back to others. The idea hit me like a bullet right then and there. I needed to start photographing women in agriculture.
An article in The Des Moines Register a few days earlier was resonating through my thoughts. Women always have been involved in agriculture and are becoming involved at a faster rate than ever before. These women play all sorts of roles in our agriculture system, and are all important. However, in any farm imagery, you almost always see the farmer portrayed as a male.
I decided it was time to take my ability to photograph and use it to document the women in this field. The next night the name of my new “project” hit me just like the idea had. I would call it FarmHer, playing off the word farmer and her.
I put my idea out there to a few people, one of who put me in contact with the Women, Food and Agriculture Network and that is when the wheels really started to go. The group was kind enough to notify their members about my project and the response I received back was overwhelming.
So many women were either interested in being a part of my project or just interested in following the progress. That year through our (cold) late spring and early summer, I had the opportunity to meet and document seven amazing women as they work their part in our agriculture system. Women from all walks of life, making a living for themselves and their families, and providing food, fiber, fuel, etc. to their communities.
This project is about documenting women. It is not about posing people to create the perfect scene. My goal is to capture the beauty in the every day and my style is to show who these women are through subtleties. Subtleties that show these are women and portray that they are agriculture. Too often in our world, the beauty of a woman, of an image, is judged by a face. These are beautiful women, doing beautiful work and my goal is to bring an appreciation to what they do. If you read the whole story, written through my images, I hope you end with a great understanding and appreciation of that woman, that farm and the beauty within. Each one tells a unique story, while the whole strives to be an overall movement.
I am so excited to continue this project not just in the near future, but for the long term. I believe in the idea of FarmHer. I believe that the only way you change ideas and perceptions is consistency over time. These changes might be subtle, but I believe they will occur. By infusing images of women in agriculture into farm imagery, we can change the way people perceive a farmer. If you believe change is necessary and can occur, spread the word about FarmHer, tell your friends and family, and come back to visit often.
Visit FarmHer at Farmher.com