To Minneapolis-based agriculture photographer Jamey Guy, being a photographer is “a backstage pass to life,” a pass that has, in previous years, given him access to various people and things, including former president Jimmy Carter and the cover of a Wheaties box.
Most recently, this pass opened an interesting door for Jamey, who found himself behind the scenes of a peach farm in South Georgia—sweating under the sun in 105-degree heat. There, he quickly learned that the story behind a delicious peach cobbler isn’t always “peachy.”
At the farm, Jamey learned about the Migrant Worker Program. This government program aides the agricultural industry in hiring migrant workers for manual labor on farms across the country.
Immigrants in the program are issued a legal work visa, and are hired by a farm seasonally, until picking time is over. They leave their families for months at a time in order to provide for them as much as possible.
After meeting many of these workers, Jamey was compelled to tell their story—that of the hard working legal immigrants that most people unknowingly pass by. Their work ethic inspired Jamey, who said,
They are paid by the basket they pick, so it is not uncommon to see a very fast paced walk to a full out run to pick and bring the peaches back to the trucks. Simply the happiest and hardest working group of people I have ever seen. While they are here, all they do is work. However, they’re just happy to have work and to be providing for their families.
The shoot was difficult at times; as Jamey withstood the heat, as well as a significant language barrier, which he overcame with the help of Google, translate.
Despite the conditions, Jamey has a flair for the dramatic:
It’s a great out of body experience, (almost a high) when you get in a creative groove, and things start to happen unconsciously. It’s almost like watching some entity take you over…that’s the type of shoot that gives me the effortless drive, the zen strength if you will, to shoot forever.
Jamey has since began taking Spanish lessons in order to more effectively communicate in the future, as he plans to board a bus with some of his new friends to travel from their homes in Mexico to the orchards next season. He’s also incorporating video for the production of a mini documentary on the subject.