Ag rekindles the photographer’s love for his profession

Paul Mobley felt exhausted after taking celebrity photos, then saw farmers at a cafe

Through Diego Flammini

Standing behind the lens of his camera, Paul Mobley has photographed some of the biggest names in music and entertainment.

Portraits on his site include Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Mike Tyson, Ringo Starr and Sebastian Maniscalco.

But in 2006, the mix of travel between New York and Los Angeles, scheduling shoots with client agents, and the overall day-to-day responsibilities of the job affected Mobley.

“To say I had creative burnout would be an understatement,” Mobley told “I decided I had to take a whole summer or the job was going to suffer. So I went to a little cabin that I have in Michigan. I told my wife that I wasn’t going to take a single photo all summer.

His commitment to a slow summer lasted about a week when Mobley and his wife Suzanne were at a Michigan cafe.

He noticed four men in a corner of the establishment.

“They looked gruff,” he said. “They were all muddy, they had beards and their clothes were all dirty. I had to talk to them.

Mobley approached the men, who turned out to be local farmers, introduced himself as a photographer, and asked a man if he would let Mobley take his picture.

This meeting marked the beginning of Mobley’s “American Farmer” tour.

That summer he photographed as many farmers as he could and discovered that he loved photography again.

“I was rejuvenated by the joy of photography,” he said. “There was no deadline and no stress. I was just a guy with my camera, and I was reminded of why I got into photography in the first place.

That reason is people.

In Mobley’s work, photoshoots are very pragmatic, people are fierce, and it can be difficult to relate to the subject.

“When you shoot a celebrity or a musician, they’ve had their picture taken so many times that often the shoot starts out very closely watched,” Mobley said. “Sometimes, before I even take my camera out of the bag, I am told what we can and cannot do and what is the ‘good side’ of the person.”

Photographing the farmers provided the completely opposite experience, he said.

“I have never met a mean farmer. They were the sweetest, humble, kind and genuine people I have met in ages, ”he said. “It was honest with God, the human touch and a good conversation. In New York and Los Angeles, no one takes the time to ask how your family is doing.

In late summer 2006, Mobley reached out to publishers to rotate his farm photos in a book.

After signing his book deal, Mobley traveled to farms in around 40 states to take photos of producers on more than 300 farms between 2006 and 2008.

The experience he lived still resonates with him to this day.

“There isn’t a day that I don’t think of these unsung heroes of America,” he said. “People see these photos and tell me they look so honest. It’s because they were honest. This book and this project will always be a part of my life. “

One photo in particular is Mobley’s favorite.

He photographed Walter Jackson, a citrus grower from Vero Beach, Florida, then 104 years old.

Photo of Walter Jackson by Paul Mobley.

“I asked him about the keys to a long life and he looked up to the sky,” Mobley said. “He was literally speaking to the clouds as he pondered his answer. When I saw him staring at the sky, that’s when I took the picture.

Mobley now sees food in a different light.

Every time he takes a meal he is mentally transported to one of the farms he has visited.

“I was in Texas and a farmer invited me over to stay for dinner and we had this amazing steak,” Mobley said. “I asked the farmer where he got the steak from and he told me to look out the window and all his cattle were there.

Photos from Mobley’s agricultural collection are now on display for all to see.

the “American Farmer” exhibition is currently on display at the Tullahoma Fine Arts Center in Tullahoma, Tenn. and will run until the end of July.

His collection of photos will be visit museums and colleges in the United States until 2025.

Mobley hopes visitors to the exhibit develop an appreciation for American farmers.

“I hope they have a greater love for the people who put food on our tables,” he said. “No one has the slightest idea of ​​the amount of work (agriculture). Agriculture is becoming a lost art form.

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