It’s amazing what you can learn right in your own backyard. I had an amazing experience learning about wild foraging and the “weeds” we see everyday are the beginning of a culinary journey. Cherry Grove Farm had an afternoon excursion on their land with a group walking the grounds, discussing the natural plants, what we can and can’t eat, and what we can do with these plants! It was a beautiful September day outside; the grasses were high so harvesting was easy and plentiful. Some of the plants we discussed were dandelions, elderberries, walnuts, pineapple weed, and thistle. After our walk we took what we harvested back to the farm house and cooked some of the greens we picked. We had ourselves a variety of greens, and worked with Chef Tamara who had some things prepped ahead then paired with. It was a great experience and very useful knowledge if you find yourself in the wild.
This year has been an exciting transition to adding motion work to my portfolio. Building a motion section takes time, practice, and the right team to make the story come to life. Working with past clients like the few farms I’ve consistently been with over the years have been a great stepping stone to gathering footage and putting together in a cohesive story. The equipment we have been working with is the Canon C300, Canon 5D Mark 4, additional microphones, as well as various lighting and grip gear. Being on location is a challenge in itself but capturing moving imagery is another. The current piece we are working on has beautiful landscape pans of the farm as well as stationary shots interviewing the real farmers, not hired talent. I know the final cut will pair well with the still imagery I have captured over the years. DP STILLS BELOW.
This was exciting news to find out I won The Culinary Trust Award for Food Photography That Makes a Difference for 2017! IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) is the food industry community you need to be apart of. First started by Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, and Anne Willan in the mid 70’s. This organization has evolved into bigger and better offerings with today including people in the food industry beyond chefs. The photography aspect of IACP is very important to me because it’s my specialty; food and beverage. The opportunities to network and get my work noticed like entering their contest is very valuable for me. My personal series I did on chicken processing was so unique I had to enter it in this years contest. It was exciting news when I heard I was a nominee for my category!
You can see the full series from this shoot on my past blog post here: http://www.perrettiphotography.com/perrettiphotography/2016/10/6/personal-series-from-the-farm-chicken-slaughter
See all nominees for categories here: http://www.iacp.com/awards/food-photography-awards/2017-food-photography-styling-finalists/
One thing that photographers can relate to is having access to situations and events in everyday life that not everyone sees. We have an opportunity to tell stories from our perspective and share with an audience. This happened to me the other day; being able to document a chicken slaughtering. I found out about this through one of the farms I’ve been working with for over a year. This only happens a certain time of year when their free-range chickens have grown large enough to be sold and used at their facilities. **Photo gallery has some graphic content**
When I arrived at the farm the sun was just rising and the foggy clouds were clearing; it was going to be a gorgeous day for photography. The outdoor mobile trailer was just pulling up to the gravel lot where the farmer’s towering crates of live chickens were waiting. Out of the mobile trailer comes the owner and operator of his chicken and turkey processing company. He has been doing this for over 5 years. There was certainly a process and systematic setup before diving into the chicken cages. Everything must be sterilized.
First he organized the inside of the trailer with buckets being pulled out under the drains, then getting the water running in his sinks to a boiling temperature, and using lots of soap to make sure everything was clean. Then he puts on his rubber apron along with rubber gloves. His knifes and sharpening tools were laid out on the metal counter that he used to break down the chickens after their bath and plucking.
Their was a row of upside down cones where the chickens went in head first. He would pull the chicken from the crate one at a time and put them in there. He would then pull the head through the bottom of the cone and cut off the chicken’s head. The chicken still moved after removing the head. The heart would still be pumping which allowed the chicken to bleed out more efficiently. The blood would drain into a large metal bay which was under the row of cones.
Once the chicken had been drained enough he would then put them into a rotating hot water and soap bath to help with cleaning and loosening the feathers from the skin. After that process the chickens would go into a rotating tub that had rubber prongs throughout. When that was turned on it would spin the chickens quickly and remove all the feathers completely from the body. When he pulled the chickens from that they would be clean and ready for breakdown.
Important parts of the chicken that need to be removed at this point is the oil gland. If this is not removed it can spoil the meat. Other parts of the chicken being removed are the feet, and esophagus. You cut open the chicken’s body just to open it and not hit the intestines. Then carefully remove the insides including gizzard, and lungs. After this process is done the chickens get cooled in cold water and placed into refrigeration.
This mild winter has been great so far. I’ve been continuing my personal project photographing at the farms with weather I’m able to stand in for a few hours! However I would like it to snow at least once so I can get shots of the farms in a wintery setting.
As I mentioned in my last blog post I have been able to expand my personal project to two really amazing farms in the New Jersey and surrounding area. This will be an on going personal project capturing the farm and farmers through the seasons hopefully leading up to a year of work.
Being curious is a big part of creating this new imagery. While at the Cherry Grove Farm one of the workers was talking to me about their upcoming cow parade! “A cow parade?!, what is this?”, I asked with excitement. Well I had to go to see for myself. Below is just a small piece of the day to incorporate into my farming project.
My personal project I started about a month ago photographing a gorgeous apple orchard among other things has quickly taken me to larger and more complex ideas of the art of farming. My curious struck me while shooting at the orchard and really how far could I take this project. The orchard has several opportunities for photography and creating my unique vision of my experiences but I felt I wanted more. Beyond the apples, the small grouping of their livestock got me wondering about how I could incorporate these things. I started researching farms that specialize in crops, dairy, and meat.
After doing this my wheels got turning and I’m looking forward to expanding this project to a couple farms that have agreed to let me document their life on the farm and how they really are the backbone to our human existence.
Agriculture can be a very broad term but for our purposes of farming it can be defined as the art and science of growing plants and raising animals for food or economic gain.
Personal projects are always something I enjoy working on. It requires a vision and time! Some photographers have personal projects that span a year, while others maybe over the course of a week. I can’t say there’s a right or wrong answer here. It has to be what your feeling and how satisfied you are with the images. When I go into personal projects they may last 3-6 months depending on how many final shots I’m looking to create, the time it takes to make them, and the budget I have allotted for travel, food, props, etc.
My last project I worked on was cartoon food which I really had a great time shooting. Some of my other past personal projects and my professional work have left me in the studio. I was looking for another challenge, and all I could think of was doing something outside in the elements. Working on location is something I haven’t done in a very long time; probably since college. I found this really great orchard right outside the city that seems to have a lot of potential for photos. I’ve only been there once and I had this rush of excitement being there shooting something new and different for myself! I’m excited to see where this takes me. Here’s just a couple shots from that day.