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American Farmer: The Heart of Our Countryby Paul Mobley
Synopses & Reviews
When photographer Paul Mobley set out to capture the soul of America's farming communities, he discovered a culture defined by tradition, integrity, and hard work, and comprised of the most authentic and generous individuals he's ever encountered. Traveling across the country from Tennessee to Montana, Mobley and his camera were welcomed into the homes of over one hundred farming families, who graciously shared their personal histories along with the fruits of their labor. To spend time with them was to turn back the clock — to an era when there were no locks on doors, no urban sprawl, and no virtue more prized than common decency. Children still move across the street and not across the state when they grow up, and parents move back in with their children whern they grow old. Story after story, visit after visit, Mobley slowly came to know the independent farmer's spirit both from behind the lens and over the dinner table.
The result is a stunning series of portraits and direct quotes that collectively chronicle the life of the American farmer. Each image offers an unvarnished and intimate look inside the hardships and joys of a quickly disappearing lifestyle — one that once defined our national identity and now struggles just to keep a foothold. And even as encroaching cities threaten their livelihoods, these men and women continue to find sustenance in the same basic human values they were raised with. American Farmer is an inspirational reminder of what it means to live with simplicity and contentment, in a world that is driven by excess. This vivid portfolio is accompanied by anecdotes and memories in the farmer's own words that are both a testament to their enduringhospitatlity and a moving glimpse into their daily routines and family histories. But what you will read first, and foremost, are their faces. From Bruce Crump, a citrus farmer in Florida; to Patsy Fribley, a stockyard dealer from Montana; to Thurston Wilber, a Maine lobsterman, Mobley's intense and beautiful portraits capture the furrows of fields lining their brows, the crevices of drought creasing the corners of their mouths, and the grains of truth in their squinted eyes.
35 states included: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
"In these quietly celebratory photographs, Mobley captures the 'experience of hospitality and generosity' he encountered in photographing 300 farmers in 35 states, sessions which he says 'revived my own sense of spirit and optimism.' His subjects are farmers who work 50 acres of organic vegetables and those who keep 3,000 acres of cherry orchards; many are barely getting by and no one says they are getting rich, although he meets men doing very well with everything from avocados to alligators. Fried transcribes their stories into engaging narratives — the highlight of the book — that present a cross-section of America that is politically active, proud of its traditions but open to experimentation, and often pleased to see college-educated offspring return to the family business. Mobley falls back too often on late-afternoon, magic hour lighting that casts a glow on his images, and he does not avoid clichs: he prefers resolute, unsmiling portraits, juxtaposes weathered elders with the fresh-faced young, and a surprising number of his subjects clutch small animals to their breasts. 150 color and b&w illus." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Paul Mobley has captured something about the American spirit and the people who have been living and working on the land. It's a living spirit that is part of America's future. Paul's work has made the faces of America's farmers and ranchers visible to the rest of America." Joe Maley, director, Texas Farm Bureau
"The passion and devotion of these people are the true essence in what [Paul] Mobley's pictures express, and what the personal stories, edited by [Katrina] Fried, reinforce. The combination is breathtaking. American Farmer is a richly layered mosaic of brilliant visuals and honest text that honors the farmers and ranchers across America. Mobley's keen vision of the American farmer, and his ability to capture the spirit which each farmer embodies, will impress readers." Jessica Higgins, Foreword Magazine
"As photographer Paul Mobley shows...there is no better way to get to the heart of farm life than through portraits and stories of the farmers themselves. This collection of photographs, with text by Katrina Fried, tells the tale of farmers across the country, from cattle ranchers in Montana to citrus farmers in Florida." Down East Magazine
Book News Annotation:
This oversized picture book (10.5x13.25") presents a photo essay of American farms and the people who work them. Presented as full- and two-page color plates, with accompanying profiles of the farmers, the photos include many portraits. Includes an index of farmers and their families, but no subject index. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
About the Author
Paul Mobley's early training as a photographer began at Detroit's Center for Creative Studies, and continued in the New York studios of such leading photographers as Annie Leibovitz and David Langley, where he apprenticed for many years before embarking on his own career. Mobley has successfully worked with a broad range of corporate, advertising, and editorial clients, including American Express, Sony, Citigroup, Ford, Compaq, Gourmet, Max Factor, Chevrolet, Microsoft, and many others. Mobley lives in New York City and Michigan with his wife Suzanne, and their two wonderful daughters, Camden and Paige.
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