Tuesday, January 24, 2017

agri.CULTURE - The woman behind the camera

Karla Salp

Sue Tebow with her horse. Photo courtesy of Sue Tebow.
For Sue Tebow, inspiration struck as she scrolled through her Facebook newsfeed.

She came across a post by Humans of New York – a project begun by an amateur photographer in New York featuring a street portrait of New Yorkers accompanied by a few of their own words sharing their stories. The photographs became a social media phenomena and the project’s Facebook page now has more than 18 million followers since its inception in 2010.

To Sue it was clear that the simple interface of a photo and a few words from the subject had resonated with people around the world. She decided to try her hand at a similar project in her community, combining two of her passions – photography and helping people reconnect with farmers. That’s when agri.CULTURE was born.

Her goal: to photograph and post one picture and story of someone in agriculture each day on her Facebook page. Her husband thought that would be too much, but Sue knew that with just her neighbors in the Block 40 area near Moses Lake she had 300 potential farmers to feature.

“No one is going to tell their story better than they are,” Sue said. “Who is going to tell their stories if they don’t tell it themselves?” 

It has not been easy. Sue works hard to capture photos that she can feature on each and every day, and sometimes struggles to find willing subjects.

Still, in a matter of a few months, she has managed to post a new photo each day of the week except Sunday since last April, along with the a few words from the people she’s featured. Her Facebook page has grown to more than 5,000 followers just by word of mouth and sharing. By comparison, WSDA’s Facebook page has about 4,000 followers, though it was created in 2012.

Like many in the agriculture community, Sue believes that those who work in agriculture need to reconnect with the vast majority people who are no longer familiar with life or work on a farm.
To make farm life real, Sue insists on photographing people as they really are. No makeup prep needed for this photoshoot – Sue wants to catch people doing what they really do on a day-to-day basis on the farm.

As quickly as her project has grown, Sue hopes that one day it will be a national effort.
“Washington, the Pacific Northwest, then beyond,” she said.

If you work in agriculture, might be a willing subject for Sue, or are just interested in connecting with her, you can email sue.agriculture@gmail.com. You can also visit Sue’s Facebook page to see the photos and view the stories of farmers she meets.