Who knew that the color of chicken's earlobes can help predict egg color? I didn't know this but the Rowlands did and it's just one example of knowledge that Elyse and Kyle share with their boys as they raise them on their beautiful hobby farm. I first met Elyse when I started my photography business years ago and I know first hand that she is an amazing artist and friend. What I didn't know was her personal story and the passion that her and her husband share for their hobby farm.
When the opportunity came up to do a documentary session for the Rowlands, I was excited but also admittedly a little nervous. See, here is the thing about documentary style sessions - as a photographer, you have to let go of all your expectations for how a session should go. There is no posing or set-ups to guarantee certain shots or attempts to rescue your clients from an awkward moment of not knowing what to do. I knew in order for this documentary session to be successful (and true in form), I couldn't interfere. I had to step back, observe, shoot and let it happen; regardless of what images I had at the end of the night. It sounds easy but truly it's very challenging and nerve wrecking. Documentary style sessions invite that nagging voice of self doubt for me as a photographer (what if my clients don't love their images, am I really doing my job if I become the observer and not the director?).
Thankfully, the Rowlands gave me no choice but to stand back and document. Shortly upon arriving, they started their evening chores from collecting eggs, to picking broccoli, cauliflower and beans, checking on the bees, feeding the pigs and enjoying their evening walk on their sun kissed 5 acres. River and Remy showed me the way in their John Deer Gator, as they pointed out our next stop. I was tired just watching them and did my best to keep up and to not miss a shot or a setting.
At the end of the session, when the sun disappeared behind their tree line, we all sat down with the chickens and had a quiet moment together. That's when Kyle shared his chicken ear lobe wisdom with me. I found this quirky nugget of knowledge to be pretty awesome. Awesome not just because I now know how to predict egg color in chickens (or because I had an engaging Blog post title) but because it was one small example of wisdom learned in this beautiful, messy, hard-working, real and raw life of theirs.
As I packed up my gear, I saw that I had captured over 1,300 Raw files in two hours (I am a self confessed over-shooter). Inside these files were hundreds of real moments, interactions, expressions and nuances in all their candid goodness. Together these images tell a story - and it wasn't one I directed but one that I observed. And, it's a beautiful story about a beautiful family who works hard and loves even harder. `
*All images are copyrighted by Sarah Rypma Photography LLC and may not be copied or used in any way without permission