(All photographs copyrighted by John Cranford)
Circle Acres, a project I started in 2008, focuses on documenting the lifestyle of a young couple in rural NC who have devoted their lives to organic farming while distancing themselves from modern living. Originally, I had the intention of making some portraits while doing some casual shooting. No pressure. I was curious about their dedication to sustainable living and how they were working towards this lifestyle. The more I hung out and shot the more I realized there was a story to tell. As I looked through the images, the vocabulary began to present itself. I had started a photo project.
How to make the work with a method in mind. At this point, I had found a subject that I was interested in and that I felt needed a voice. How was I going to go about shooting the project? Film? Digital? What camera(s) and lenses? A lot to think about when starting a long term project. Initially, I began shooting with a Mamiya 645 and a Bronica 6×6. I was happy with the images that the cameras produced but I knew something was off. Maybe I wasn’t shooting it right. Maybe the tools were not lending themselves to the subject the way I had envisioned. I couldn’t place it.
A while before starting the project I had been researching the Mamiya 7. A medium format rangefinder camera that was known for producing beautiful 6×7 negatives. I took the plunge and bought a used first generation Mamiya 7 with an 80mm lens. After the first roll I was hooked! This was my first rangefinder camera and I was in love. The camera presented a new way of working that I had never experienced before. It let me give priority to making images. I was no longer hindered by metering modes, AF points, histograms, and chimping. Things were simple. I had a flow and a zen way of shooting now. The final images used for the edit where all shot with the Mamiya 7. I now own a 5DmkII which I use to shoot video and stills with but I find myself going back to the rangefinder more and more. What did I learn? Stick to one camera and one lens for a particular project. Some will disagree with that notion but I think it can be liberating. Less is more.
Street photography, off the streets. I love street photography but actually, I don’t shoot much street. I admire the work of such photographer Robert Frank, Vivian Maier, Gary Winogrand, Joel Meyerowitz to name a few. I believe street photography is a way looking or seeing the world around us. Not just on the street and not just an aesthetic or a particular subject matter. Where am I taking this? Don’t be afraid to take it off the street. I believe this kind of shooting can be applied anywhere. I think while working on this project I picked up the sensibility of street photography. Most of the images just unfolded before me. I was just there capturing the moments with a quite ‘click’ of the rangefinder. I was dipping out of the stream of time and taking some with me. – John Cranford
More photos from “Circle Acres”