I made a quick go-round of the vendors offering wares and goods and put on my brakes when I saw a table piled high with bunches of healthy beet roots with perfectly intact greens. Grown and packed and presented with care. That’s when I met Elan, 50/100 of my strangers. He’s co-owner of Silver Leaf Farms in Corrales, NM.
Our customer-vendor relationship elevated when I asked his name and learned it was the same, spelling and all, as that of my eldest son. It’s not the most common for New Mexicans, and so it engendered a more personal conversation with Elan and his brother, whom we will meet in my next stranger portrait.
Silver Leaf Farms is a small independent growing operation. The bulk of their business is wisely wholesale to a dozen or so local restaurants plating the freshest, high-quality produce for the “farm-to-table” diners. Silver Leaf also circulates as retail vendors at this and a few other nearby community growers markets.
After purchasing some sweet Italian beets from Elan, and he had two varieties to offer, I lingered to get to know my local grower better. The booth wasn’t busy so I asked to photograph him for the project and he agreed.
As soon as I began my task, I became bewildered by the lighting situation. Inside the Rail Yards it is deceptively tricky for street photography. The building has incredibly high ceilings and 100 year-old green and brown glass window panes on the side walls. It contributes to space that feels airy and light. At least on this solstice morning, the sun was beaming my subject’s back, no matter where in the booth he stood. There was no point in asking him to leave his station, since I wanted the product in the shot, too.
I worked much harder than usual to nail my focus and achieve desirable results. It was uncharacteristic for me to need to take a dozen or so shots to get everything synched. I was, however, determined not to leave the booth without my shot, nor a lasting impression of me as a wacko who couldn’t get her act together. Elan took it in stride.
Patience is a good characteristic for a farmer. I hoped also to portray him as strapping, confident and enterprising. The light behind him, I hope, works to illuminate his figure.
If you are in the Corrales | Albuquerque | Santa Fe food oasis, visit the website for Silver Leaf Farms to find out what’s growing in Spring, Summer and Fall, and which establishments are cooking with their fine produce.