Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Project Celebrates Farmers ; Photographer, Kansas Farm Bureau Team Up to Produce Coffee-Table Book

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Project Celebrates Farmers ; Photographer, Kansas Farm Bureau Team Up to Produce Coffee-Table Book

Article excerpt

Photographer Scott Stebner may see himself as an agriculture industry outsider, but he is dedicated to helping farmers and ranchers succeed.

Stebner, who grew up as a self-proclaimed "beach bum" in San Diego, also raised livestock and later studied agricultural science as an undergraduate student at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Calif.

"I've kind of been surrounded by agriculture my whole life, even though we were never farmers, per se," said Stebner, who after working as a photographer in Colorado moved with his family to Kansas to pursue a master's degree in agricultural communications at Kansas State University.

A unique project eventually grew from Stebner's concern for the ever-decreasing number of farmers in the U.S. and lack of connection of most consumers to the people on whom they depend for their food.

"We're really in a spot where the vast, vast, vast majority of people who depend on these farmers for food know nothing about them," he said.

So Stebner sought a way to use photography, writing and some of the research he learned as a master's student to reconnect consumers with farmers. He struggled to find willing subjects for photos, finally meeting two people who invited him to photograph a father and a neighbor.

"It was random strangers that allowed me to walk into their lives and photograph them, and hopefully create a great portrait that ends up being their legacy for their family," Stebner said.

After building up a body of work, he said, he realized he wanted to do something more with the photos. Then, Stebner connected with the Kansas Farm Bureau.

"The hardest part of any project is finding the funding and finding the people," he said, adding he felt fortunate to partner with the farm bureau, which introduced him to dozens of Kansas farmers and ranchers. He spent a year documenting 25 farming families, resulting in the publication of a coffee-table book called "Kansas Farmers. …

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