Sunday, 11 October 2009

Marsh Muckers

About three years ago, while I was driving south from an assignment in Barrie, I decided to stop and have a drive through the Holland Marsh. Like many commuters and cottagers that travel the busy Hwy 400, the fertile fields of the marsh had always caught my eye, but there never seemed a reason to venture in.

The light that fall day was magical, and everywhere I looked it seemed there were images to be had. I stopped several times to photograph and to speak with locals. Along with some photographs I was pleased with, I also learned that the people who worked and lived in the Holland Marsh were affectionately known as Marsh Muckers.

Well it didn't take much more than that to convince me that a photo essay would also spring forth from these fertile fields.

The problem with doing a story like this, is that I couldn't exactly "swing by" the marsh during my shifts, and I hadn't been able to completely sell management on the story based solely on a bunch of pretty images. I tried several times, using different approaches, but I was never quite able to find the right sell. I continued to visit the marsh however, whenever I could, with the hope that one day someone would be interested.

So after three seasons of on-again, off-again shooting in the marsh, reporter Tony Reinhart came to me with a story angle on the marsh. He saw it as a perfect way to link the marsh to the GTA, and he was right. (Thanks Tony) The problem is, and many photographers could likely relate to this, that even after so much time had passed, I felt like I had shot so little, and was hoping to be able to do so much more. But now, with the story sold, it was skedded for two weeks hence. I would have to pull together the images, as well as some interviews and video for a multimedia piece in a week. Argh!

I will likely continue to work in the Holland Marsh, and perhaps something more will come from the experience. It truly is a great place to spend time among the mud, the produce, and the muckers themselves.

The story ran in The Globe and Mail, with two images, on October 10, 2009, but the best display was here on the globeandmail.com.

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