Richmond-based Tyler Darden is both father and photographer, and he’s raised his children in the state that he’s lived and worked in all his life. Through his photography, this Virginia native has explored every stretch of the state, sampling farm-fresh food and meeting the rural communities that make up most of this region.
In a recent assignment for Virginia Living Magazine, Tyler traveled to a family-run farm to capture their Autumnal attractions that draw 1,000 people every weekend to this rustic ranch.
Tyler has worked with the magazine’s art director, Ann Harvey, several times over the past three years and she joined him for the 1.5-hour journey southwest to the Parrish Family Farm. When the two arrived at the location they were immediately greeted by Jeff and Liz, high school sweethearts who opened the 58-acre farm to the public in 2009.
Once Ann and I saw the location we worked together to decide and create the images needed to visually tell the story of the Parrish family.
While the land has been occupied by Parrishes for four generations, the pumpkin patch and corn maze are new additions to this family’s ancestral home. The Parrish family has found a way to reutilize their harvested land by inviting anyone to come and create traditions that they will remember for years.
It’s a very rural and beautiful area, with lots of winding roads and open fields. And some of the farms, like the Parrishes, have added a tourism component to draw people to the experience.
After speaking with Ann before shooting, Tyler decided to arrive just past dawn, to capture the brilliant blue sky and bright morning light as it stretched across the farm. While this offered beautiful shots of light rays streaking through the trees, it lacked the entertainment and energy that the attraction is used to. The Parrishes asked neighbors and friends to come early to help stage some of the lifestyle images that are featured in the magazine.
I made some Fall portraits of the family and friends who modeled for us and gave these families a few images each for coming out so early to help us.
Sometime later in the day, a few school trips arrived at the farm, which provided Tyler with the typical environment of a day spent at the pumpkin patch. The kids were initially chaotic as there was too much fun to be had running around a giant corn maze with friends. Eventually, they slowed down just enough for Tyler to capture that special moment when a child had found their perfect pumpkin.
Tyler was happy to connect with these fellow Virginians. He appreciated their generosity and was glad to help showcase their farm so that others could know their story and visit the attractions for many years to come.
The Parrish family was amazing. They were very friendly and accommodated all my requests while providing so much information and access to all the attractions.
As a father, Tyler has witnessed the small moments in everyday life that we cherish with our children. In his day spent at the Parrish family farm, Tyler sought to capture the essence of that joy and hopes his images inspire others to venture to this special place.
There are some wonderful serendipitous moments that we had throughout the day, like the family dog posing perfectly with that family in the portrait