EuropeStoryEnvironment: On the farm by Chanel Irvine

All around the world, the environment is suffering. We recently saw the Amazon rainforest and Australia go up in flames, following countless other natural catastrophes that increasingly confirm our societies' greatest fear and reinforce our biggest challenge: things need to change.

All around the world, the environment is suffering. We recently saw the Amazon rainforest and Australia go up in flames, following countless other natural catastrophes that increasingly confirm our societies’ greatest fear and reinforce our biggest challenge: things need to change.

One of the most common suggestions is to lower the impacts of the farming industry. More specifically, beef, sheep and dairy farming, or livestock farming, which contributes to land degradation, a large percentage of global water usage and increasing pressure for deforestation. Of course, there are counterarguments that claim that farming for a ‘vegan world’ would be almost equally as damaging.  Like it has always done, the debate continues…

For my project, ‘On the Farm,’ I spent time with small farming families in Iceland, whose practices make a strong case against the unsustainable and intensive present-day industrial model, while reasserting the importance of farming for these local communities who depend on it to maintain their heritage, identity and livelihood.  The people in these photographs shared with me their passion, stories and daily lives on the farm. Through the passing generations they have been forced to adapt to the changing demands for their products and the volatile economic and environmental climate they’re working in, ensuring their work is increasingly sustainable.

I am hoping to continue the project and collect similar stories, from around the world, of farming families and communities whose practices are having to adapt to our ever-changing socio-political environment, constantly developing their practices to survive in the industry. Change is both inevitable and necessary, and although we may not yet know what that change is going to look like, I feel obliged to create a collective portrait of farmers today. The story of the human race can be defined and categorized by its different ‘ages.’ Today, it is important to recognise those that have dedicated their lives to providing food for our current age, as we are likely to soon transition into the next.

About Chanel Irvine

As a documentary photographer, Chanel’s practice seeks to portray the power of human initiative, connection and contribution. Inspired by the importance of solution-based journalism, she embraces visual communication that empowers and inspires. Her stories often focus on livelihoods, environments and communities that are susceptible to change based on emerging trends, development demands and the technological progressions that inevitably accompany today’s increasingly modern society. In this way, her photographs aim not only to serve as a historical preservation of their subjects, but to shed light on their most admirable, steadfast and necessary presence in today’s world.

Using a retrospective lens, Chanel’s more personal work similarly reflects this tension between preservation and change. With an eye for moments she deems timeless, her observations consistently focus on scenes that are reminiscent of older, simpler times, which persist seemingly unaffected by the advancements that continuously transform the world we live in. As a result, her photographs accentuate the “ordinary” – reasserting its importance as a photographic subject and highlighting the beauty that can constantly be rediscovered in the everyday. [Official Website]

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