It is always a treat for me to meet and photograph a skilled entrepreneur, farmer or artist as they work to create something that has the potential to elevate an industry, transform sentiment or upturn convention. Recently I had such an opportunity, making photographs inside a Good Meds medical cannabis cultivation facility here in Denver. Growing Cannabis (marijuana) in Colorado isn’t new, but with the rapid approach of legal recreational marijuana being available to those so inclined (and over 21) from shops in Denver on Jan. 1st, attention on the subject has greatly increased.
Farming indoors is a feat I used to associate with survival in a post-apocalyptic movie. But over the last few years I have witnessed substantial crops being raised in warehouses across Denver. The photographs below are a few from an indoor Good Meds cultivation facility. The combination of entrepreneurship, agricultural skills and craftsmanship on display there was wonderful to experience. While complying with complex regulation they successfully grow a variety of strains and create a truly artisanal product.
The DEA did not show up to raid his field earlier this month so Ryan Loflin and a crew of volunteers harvested, by hand, the first major (known) hemp crop in The United States in over 50 years. Ryan quietly amassed the illegal seeds from abroad and planted them earlier this year in about 60 acres of the same land he worked as a boy in a remote corner of Southeast Colorado. In early October, as part of a decision to optimize yield, he opted to harvest the entire crop by hand. Instead of hiring migrant farm workers Ryan turned to twitter and facebook making a general call to anyone interested in participating in this historic event to go to his farm, camp and help harvest. Friday night the crew began to assemble, most camping in tents inside the barn used the following day to store the harvested crop. People came from down the road, and as far away as Idaho and Texas to participate. Saturday morning after filling out an indemnification contract, a breakfast of muffins, yogurt and coffee, Ryan and fellow hemp enthusiasts fanned out across the weedy hemp field plucking the green leafy stocks, now mature and heavy with seed, one by one, pulling out the entire plant by the roots.
Harvest weekend proved to be a visually interesting event full of colorful characters harvesting a crop in the still drought-plagued Southeastern corner of Colorado that directly reflects the changing attitudes and laws about Cannabis and Hemp in Colorado and around the country. And it was all made possible by the entrepreneurial spirit of an enterprising farmer.
I made 3 trips to the farm and hope that the photographs below capture Ryan’s entrepreneurial spirit as well as showcase the undertaking in a visually interesting way.
The 2013 Colorado flood caused catastrophic damage along the entire Front Range, mountain communities, farmland and towns along the South Platte River. Thousands of homes were damaged or destroyed, roads and bridges were washed away and several people were killed. I spent an afternoon in Jamestown and a morning in Evans working to create a collection of photographs capturing a slice of the toll the flood inflicted on the people in its path.
This set of new photographs from my continuing project, On The Road (OTR) captures a colorful sunrise through the mountain trees while driving to Jamestown, CO to photograph the destruction from the recent flooding there.
An unprecedented week of heavy rainfall across the Colorado Front Range has flooded mountain towns, larger cities, portions of Denver and rural agricultural lands. I wanted to see how the more rural Colorado agricultural areas were affected, especially those situated along the South Platte River. Floodwaters race down canyons in minutes, but it can take days to reach here.
Below are a few documentary style photographs from my trip through the area yesterday.
My ongoing series of non-traditional landscape photographs (On The Road) consists mostly of agricultural scenes. This time I took a trip into the Colorado Mountains and returned with a new set of photographs.
A set of new non-traditional landscape photographs capturing a bit more of the spirit of rural Colorado. I created these photographs while driving between editorial assignments recently.
Another day began, as many promising days do, with myself in an unfamiliar car and rural miles extending ahead as far as I can see. On this day the dreary morning was welcome; rain for the ranchers and farmers I was passing by and would soon meet is so deeply needed here.
A recent weekend of heavy combat, fencing, and other Medieval and Renaissance activities provided a prime opportunity to create some visually interesting photographs with my new Fujifilm X100s camera. Combining the ability of the camera to sync with flash at shutter speeds faster than most cameras and this amazing event resulted in some interesting photographs. All are .jpgs straight out of the camera – not even opened in Photoshop.
I have had my new camera, the Fuji X100s, for a short while now and have been rather pleased with it as a camera and the photographs that can be made with it. I took it (and only it) to the 4/20 marijuana celebration in Denver yesterday and made a few available light, documentary style photographs, and a few using off camera flash.
3 new non-traditional landscape photographs attempting to capture an ethereal portrait of the landscape.
Early morning, struggle to get gear into car – last of the coffee slides off the frozen roof. Thus this trip to South Dakota began but all was not lost; an emergency Redbull stored in the fridge replaced spilled coffee, and my attempt to capture a more ethereal portrait of the landscape seems to have been successful.
A wonderful recent commission to photograph the Denver Art Museum (DAM) Director, Christoph Heinrich, allowed for creative composition, less conservative lighting and the opportunity to craft some visually interesting portraits of an executive in one of my favorite buildings in Denver. The biggest challenge during this shoot ended up a tie between the snow that began falling the moment we went outside for that portion of the shoot and the difficulty distilling such a complex and striking building into one or two portrait locations.
A moment before the long drive begins, I sit in my car and look at a map, or a map I’ve scribbled on the back of an old The Far Side page-a-day calendar or conjure up a map in my brain. I preset my camera to the settings I believe will be most likely to capture the mood of the landscape that lies ahead, or maybe best embody the mood of the driver. And as the car turns down the road, and the miles accumulate I hope to bring home something from On The Road.
I’ve introduced entrepreneur and restaurateur Ryan here: https://matthewstaver.wordpress.com/2013/01/17/a-portrait-of-entrepreneurship/
Below are a small selection of photographs capturing Ryan’s journey through creating and opening DiFranco’s in this quintessential tale of entrepreneurship. I believe they offer insight into this often overlooked process – revealing emotion and risk while weaving threads of the economy, the quest for a better quality of life and community betterment into the seemingly simple process of opening a small restaurant.
This was a self-assigned personal project that has yet to find a good home in print.
Another two reasons I love this part of the country. Here two moody landscape photographs I captured recently during a trip up to the oil boom area of North Dakota and Montana attempt to capture a bit of the beauty there. These are part of my ongoing OTR project.
I am drawn to entrepreneurship. Being present at the start or early stages of a new venture is exhilarating. The air is so thick with excitement, possibility and mission that the atmosphere changes, thickens almost, and can permeate anyone who pushes into its sphere.
Ryan DiFranco conjured this sort of atmosphere as he created his new restaurant, DiFranco’s. He was gracious and generous and allowed me to be a part of his process, inside the sphere of entrepreneurship. While inside, I made a documentary style picture story that begins to capture and convey this spirit and process of entrepreneurship through the undertaking of opening a small restaurant.
As an introduction to Ryan and this unpublished picture story, here are two portraits of the entrepreneur himself.
I used to drive I-25 to and from Denver and Fort Collins every week. There was a stretch of close to 50 miles where a subdivision was not to be seen; corn, sunflowers and cows ruled the land. Today much of that agrarian land has been planted with rows of houses. Below are 6 photographs I captured of those disappearing agricultural landscapes during a drive home from Wyoming.
Below is a portion of a series of photographs I created as part of a commission to document the relationship between agriculture and water. 2012 was a tough year to coax crops from the dry earth. The drought coupled with high heat caused many crops across Colorado (and the nation) to fail.
The sky is turning from black to blue, the street lights click off and people begin to stir outside as I sit drinking my first cafe-bought coffee of the New Year selecting photographs for a blog post showing destruction and hardship from the drought. But first I wanted to offer this photograph, an addition to my growing OTR (On The Road) project, as hope not just for a less dry year but general hope for prosperity and a lack of smiting from the powers that be.
I’m a little behind after spending 16 of the last 32 days in the oil boom area of North Dakota and Montana on various projects; so today is catch-up Friday. I was really pleased at the display of this photograph of an AR-15 type rifle that I made in a rather small room in a gun shop here in Colorado. I had very little time to set-up and execute this shoot, extremely limited space to arrange the lighting, etc., but I think it turned out well – and ran huge 🙂
I recently had the opportunity to photograph wild horses adopted and now living near Longmont, CO & under the care of the BLM in Cañon City, Colorado. The horses are, of course, beautiful, amazing and large. Below are a few of the photographs I created focusing on details that I found both beautiful and indicative of their intrinsic wild spirit.