I am a lucky guy. My job and travel constantly allows me to meet amazing people throughout the world. Over the years I was fortunate to learn from many bright scientists, basically getting private lessons in fields such as genetics, water-policies, land-subsidence or paleo climatology, have discussions with activists about farmers suicides, trade policies and land-reforms. I have spent days or weeks with farmers, ranchers, fishermen, slum-dwellers and Jesuit monks. Many of these meetings serve as stories by themselves, brilliant moments, new thoughts and ideas and worth to remember.
I met Cindy and Doyle Buxkemper at Busters Gin in Ropesville and they invited me over to spend some time with them on their farm to document their life and farming practice. As always this is a two way street. As a photographer working closely with people I often share as much about my life as I learn about my subjects life. So on the first evening we talked at length about the economics of farming cotton, of surviving on a small family farm, subsidizing ones labor of love with town jobs in Cindy’s case, and my wedding, anniversary or odd magazine assignments and camera promotion jobs. I shared how my funding for the project was slowly running out after three months spent on the ground for each part of the story in Central Asia, India and Texas. How no magazine wanted to print the story or backed out in the last moment when the section editor changed. I talked about doubts as to if this was ever going to go anywhere or if eventually I would need to look for mediocre assignments to pay the bills. In short: We found common ground in our struggle to keep our heads above water in our very different industries and lives.
Nothing though prepared me for the next evening. When we said goodnight after a long dusty day of harvest Cindy suddenly put two 100 Dollar bills in my hand. She and Doyle had decided to support my project and keep me going. It left me nearly speechless and with tears in my eyes. I had to decline of course. This is to keep my independence as a journalist I can not take money from subjects. But I will always remember this moment and generous gesture.