cover image American Farmer: The Heart of Our Country

American Farmer: The Heart of Our Country

Paul Mobley, . . Welcome, $50 (276pp) ISBN 978-1-59962-047-3

In these quietly celebratory photographs, Mobley captures the “experience of hospitality and generosity” he encountered in photographing 300 farmers in 35 states, sessions which he says “revived my own sense of spirit and optimism.” His subjects are farmers who work 50 acres of organic vegetables and those who keep 3,000 acres of cherry orchards; many are barely getting by and no one says they are getting rich, although he meets men doing very well with everything from avocados to alligators. Fried transcribes their stories into engaging narratives—the highlight of the book—that present a cross-section of America that is politically active, proud of its traditions but open to experimentation, and often pleased to see college-educated offspring return to the family business. Mobley falls back too often on late-afternoon, magic hour lighting that casts a glow on his images, and he does not avoid clichés: he prefers resolute, unsmiling portraits, juxtaposes weathered elders with the fresh-faced young, and a surprising number of his subjects clutch small animals to their breasts. 150 color and b&w illus. (Nov.)