Two words come to mind when I look at this image: bounty and beauty. Even more than the wheat shocks, the cultivated ground on which they stand evokes in me a sense of the skin of the earth—how thin it is and how marvelous that, year after year, seeds dropped into it rise in such a short period of time to provide the nutrients we need to survive. It seems like a miracle—until I remember that it’s part of the chain of interconnections that evolved to make life sustainable and more abundant.
Images like this also remind me to appreciate that we in the technologically developed nations of the world enjoy regular and bountiful harvests. It’s not something to take for granted when, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, in 2021 10.7% of the world’s population (7.6 billion people) suffer from hunger. That’s 815 million people.
I made this photograph in Central Ohio’s Amish country with a 4×5 view camera. As I was standing close to a busy road with my head under a dark cloth to adjust the composition on the ground glass, I heard a horse and buggy approaching. Not wanting to get my tripod bumped or frighten the horse, I stepped aside and waved for the driver to pass. Surprisingly, he stopped and let traffic go around him. “You like that field do you?” said the long-bearded farmer wearing a wide-rimmed black hat.
“I do,” I replied. “These fields are amazing. May I ask what those stacks are called?”
“Shocks,” he said. “Wheat shocks. Do you know why we arrange them like that?” I shook my head. “It’s a lot more work to do it that way, and it takes longer than rolling. Either way, the bulk of the wheat stays dry. But we do it because it’s beautiful.”
That little but precious comment took root in my soul that day as both an inspiration and an injunction to, as much as possible, make beauty an essential component of all my creations. I don’t always succeed, but the intention is firmly planted.
Beauty is finally our surest indication of whether what we do is in the most creative direction for nature as a whole.
Photography Monographs (Click on the pages to turn them)