The Second Oldest Profession, Nomadic Shepherds from Around the World
Shepherding is the world’s second oldest profession. Shepherds live on the edge of hills or mountains, harsh weather conditions, of modern society, and of life and death. The experiences I’ve had with Shepherds around the world, and the work I’ve done alongside them has been invigorating, challenging, and maddeningly humbling. Through this work I’ve developed a reverence for the soil and have found the practices of raising food has helped me transcend my fear of death. For me, it is a lifestyle more firmly connected to a natural order and an honest, unguarded reckoning of the strengths and limits of the human body, mind, and spirit. The people in these pictures follow separate rules from our society’s. Their stories can hardly be captured in a photograph or words and the impact they’ve had on me may be even harder to relay. I hope some of the beauty I’ve been lucky enough to witness can be felt in these photographs, and maybe some of their wisdom/spirit will give hope for a remedy to the discord between our modern society and the natural world that sustains us.
I chose to keep the photographs faceless to respect anonymity.
GABRIELLA COBB grew up in Vermont studying dance since she could walk, that being her first exposure to the arts. Around the age of 20 she left a career as a professional Ballet Dancer and began seeking substance in life. She traveled the world, hitch-hiking from place to place, working odder than odd jobs, and meeting all sorts of people. Keeping her camera in her pack. Her adventures opened her mind and though her travels were inspiring, she grew tired of the repeated disappointment of human behavior. Seeking to disconnect she found a job on a large dairy operation in New Zealand. Through this job and an intriguing man, whom she later married, she was brought into the world of Agriculture and Shepherding. She fell in love with the freeing and rigorous lifestyle, the culture of respect for the land, and the close relationship with the cycle of life and death. She’s continued to travel and shepherd since moving to the Swiss Alps with her husband. Now, on her own, she continues to graze in the golden hills of California, learns from the soil, grows food, and lives the beauty she loves with a heart that roams free.
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Salt, Silver, and Gold
This body of work is a collection of my daydreams – the beginnings of stories not yet written; open doorways to memories, aspirations, fairy tales, and flights of fancy; still moments of light and shadow.
The title “Salt, Silver, and Gold” references the method I used to create these one-of-a-kind original photographs that mark my return to film photography and old-world dark room techniques.
These images were first captured on medium format film using a simple, no-frills Holga camera. The simplicity of the camera frees me from overthinking how to affect the image, leaving me open to how the image affects me instead.
Applying a technique from the 1830s, I hand coat each sheet of watercolor paper with sea salt and silver nitrate before affixing a contact negative and exposing it to sunlight. I am filled with wonderment every time I watch an image emerging through the negative as the sunlight activates the salt and silver. The resulting salt print is then washed and toned in gold for longevity.
The alchemy of salt, silver, gold, and sunlight may be more chemistry than sorcery, but I still feel like a magician every time I watch an image materialize onto a blank sheet of paper.
RIVER WILDER, born in San Francisco and now residing on the Mendocino Coast, has been a fine art and commercial photographer since 1988. Fusing inner landscapes of the subconscious with coastal environments far and near, her work aims to capture the surreal landscape between memory and the moment.
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