When we were in Montana in August, my mom mentioned they had plans to pick up chickens from a small family farm. They knew Jay, Mandy, and their three little boys from their stand at the farmers market. When my dad brought up the same family later, and added that they live in a yurt, I just knew I needed to photograph them.
I contacted Jay and Mandy and we e-mailed back and forth about a wonderful barter that will keep my parents kitchen stocked with farm-fresh veggies. Although they were in the midst of their busy season and weren’t sure they’d have time to spend with me, I encouraged them to let me come anyway to document their lives. No cleaning up or dressing up needed. I was excited by the prospect of truly capturing their life, and not a staged version of it. When I arrived, it turned out that the day (and some extra early morning work) allowed them some time to slow down for a while to show me around their farm and to do things they enjoy doing together.
When I later thought about why I was so drawn to photograph this family, I actually discovered a deeper level of my own desire for my work and life’s purpose. Yes, I want to give families a beautiful way to remember what their life is like right now. I also want to help discover how incredibly beautiful their life is. And then there’s something even bigger. I want somehow to help people come realize what values are most important to them, to make those a priority, and to find ways to change their lives in a way that they are spending time being their true and best selves, doing things they are most passionate about, and really living out their true purpose. Meeting families that are doing this is an inspiration to me, and I want to show their lives to others to broaden the reach. When we see others following their dreams, it encourages the rest of us to do the same, to realize living our dreams is possible.
So that’s what this family has meant to me. Jay and Mandy realized what was important to them (time with family, improving the land for future generations, living a sustainable life, providing healthy food for their family and others), and they created a life in which those values are central and are honored.
Here is a glimpse into their life on Lower Valley Farm. Take some time and scroll slowly through the pictures. Notice what you see and what feelings develop. I hope you see the beauty and feel the inspiration that I do.