MY STORY: LIVING ON A SMALLHOLDING
I’ve been wanting to write this blog post for quite a while now, but I could never really find the right words to do it justice before, today the letters on the page just seemed to fall into place…maybe it’s the sunshine! Oh & that's me above, donning my wellies surrounded by chicky babes!
I think it can be said that a lot of photographers have a back story to what has inspired them to follow a particular subject or niche, which is certainly true for me. Lots of little experiences have led me along this inquisitive road I seem to be on, leaving me searching for what is around the next corner.
When I was 19 my family and I moved from North Devon, to a cottage on the outskirts of Exeter in South Devon, our neighbours who also owned the cottage had previously lived on a smallholding and knew a lot about keeping livestock. Shortly after we moved they mentioned that they would be getting some rare breed pigs and asked if we would like one too, although rather surprised at the invitation we embraced this new country life wholeheartedly and said yes! As time went on we acquired chickens, geese, turkeys, lambs and cows…suddenly living a very different life to the one we had left behind, but all loving every minute of it. We also had a veg patch, which was new territory for us too, initially planting beans upside down and sprouting seedlings on a whim, we soon found ourselves with home grown spuds and wonky carrots as well as a ridiculous amount of courgettes. Despite living in an agricultural hub for most of my life, I learnt more in those 5 years than I had my entire life and everything I learned has stood me in good stead to this day.
The more immersed I became in smallholding life, the more I started to photograph my surroundings, the landscape, the animals and things like elderflower harvesting or jam making. My interest and passion for the subject just grew and grew…just like that crazy courgette patch! When I found that interest wasn’t dying down or petering out (if anything only growing wilder and more inquisitive) I made a decision to pursue it photographically with purpose and to build my business ethos around what I had learned. The name “Little Silver Photography” has a story and it’s this story, our cottage was named “Little Silver” and because I felt such a connection, it just felt right to name my business after the house and still does to this day. The more I learnt, the more I wanted to connect with other people with similar stories and to work with small businesses that had evolved out of a love for their subject.
Moving away after such an amazing 5 years was sad, but it’s a process that has also been a learning curve. It has taught me that you can live this way wherever you are, it doesn’t have to be a cottage in the country to adopt this lifestyle. Even if you live in a city, something as simple as growing your own herbs and cooking with them can be enough, which is something I have done myself. Supporting local, small business is another way to feel more connected, offering the chance to learn from your suppliers/producers, often even attending food events hosted by them, that are passion driven and about championing a simpler way of existing. In this day and age, it’s a refreshing break from the commercial overwhelm of crunching numbers, profit and growth. Obviously growth is part of the story for small business and what they are striving for, but often with a more minimalist approach putting their love for what they do before anything else, from what I have learned by talking to lots of lovely local businesses.
I find the entire subject of food totally fascinating and thought provoking, from how food is grown, processed, cooked and consumed…this interest has grown hugely over the years, I’m not that academic but I have found myself delving into food history books, listening to food podcasts, reading articles and literature about all sorts of food related topics ending up entirely immersed in the subject and loving every minute. If we hadn’t have moved to the smallholding, who knows if I’d have followed this road? I just know that I am happiest with my camera taking pictures of amazing food, that has been grown/cooked with love and sharing stories with those who are passionate about what they are doing.