Dust off those cameras!

Quick question for the crowd: how many of you like to take photos? I can easily answer that question. Photography has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember and, as the photographer for Iowa Farm Bureau for the past 10 years, I’ve photographed farmers in fields, barns, farmsteads and along the dusty roads that make up rural Iowa.

If there is one thing that I learned over those years it is that farmers and agriculture professionals are some of the best people to photograph. The hard work ethic, richness of life and exuberance of families always shines through, regardless of the story. Here are some of my favorite photos from my travels.

I’m not the only one who has learned that secret. Paul Mobley, an award-winning photographer, traveled across our great country photographing farmers for a successful book called “American Farmer: Portraits of the Heartland.” I had the pleasure of working with him, identifying several farmers in Iowa who were included in his book. Now, he is offering the opportunity for farmers like yourselves and others to submit photos to a contest that celebrates your way of life.

The contest is called “Your American Farmer Photo Contest.” Mobley would like you to share your experiences with the country’s beautiful agriculture, farm, farmers’ market and garden world. Capturing your favorite fall harvest scene, summer fruit stand, farmer’s market or road-side stand, share your view of this country’s beautiful landscape, agriculture and harvest. The contest is open to both amateur and professional photographers from across the country.

So, my next question is just as straightforward as the first. Who do you think are the best people to tell your story? Obviously, with the success of and participation in #AgChat and other social media platforms, the answer is you. That’s right. Don’t look over your shoulder while you read this. I’m talking to you. It’s time for you to dust off your camera, dig through your photos and find an entry for this unique photo contest. You can share an intimate look at your life as a farming professional. I know you had to capture at least one early morning photo with the sun cresting the horizon while you did your chores. Or maybe there was the photo during harvest when the family met you in the field for a quick dinner. Any photo that is special to you has already won an award with your family, so now it is time to share it with the world and tell your story through pictures.

I am honored to be one of the judges for this photo contest and I look forward to seeing all the excellent entries that celebrate the fabric of America that is agriculture. So, with that, find your best photo or grab your camera and take your best photo today. Then submit your photo to this great contest. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to let me know either through Twitter, my Google+ profile or by email at jmurphix@gmail.com.

Can’t wait to see your photos!

Joe Murphy serves as a photographer and writer with the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation. In this position, he is responsible for the photography assignments of the weekly Iowa Farm Bureau Spokesman, the monthly Family Living, marketing photos as well as the website iowafarmbureau.com. He also writes news and feature stories, provides creative input, and publication pagination. Additionally, his work has been featured in  National Geographic Television, Time, New York Times, Atlanta Journal Constitution, United Press International, Associated Press, Liaison and the Chronicle of Higher Education.


  1. Any chance you’ll have a contest for the ranching side of agriculture? We farm alfalfa and some grain, but most of my photos are ranching!

  2. Carol,

    Please send along your ranch photos! We’d love to have them as part of the contest. We will hopefully publish a collection of all of the entries on Paul Mobley’s social media and blog sites after the contest.