Then to Brooklyn
By Jane Bachrach
Sopris Sun Staff Writer
Award-winning photographer Tyler Stableford is about to do something he’s never done in his 20-year career.
The internationally acclaimed photographer/cinematographer lives in Carbondale with his wife, school teacher Megan Currier and two children, Annabelle and Sam. He’s lived here for 17 years and his photography studio is here. Stableford and his team — which includes Draper White, Kate Rolston and Ben Thomas — spend most of their time on commercial photography and film. “One of biggest things I’ve been doing lately is directing national TV commercials for Cabela’s,” Stableford told The Sopris Sun, adding that the entire team is actively engaged in shooting “stills” and “motion.”
What Stableford has done has generated a long list of accolades, including being named one of the world’s seven greatest adventure photographers by Men’s Journal. He is one of Canon’s Explorers of Light and has won a number of awards for his photography. He will soon head to Mexico to shoot an underwater fine-art project for Canon as a promotion for its latest cameras. During this assignment he will be shooting whale sharks, which, according to Stableford, “is a deeply personal project!”
Surprisingly, one thing Stableford has never done is to show his work in a gallery or host a gallery opening reception. He says the reason is because he hasn’t focused on fine-art imagery before. Fortunately for those of us living in Carbondale and the Roaring Fork Valley, that is about to change on July 30 when Stableford will host his very first gallery reception and exhibit at Town. restaurant in Carbondale. It will be open to the public from 5 to 7 p.m.
When Stableford came to Town. owner Mark Fischer, and said “Would you be interested in hosting an exhibit of local farmers,” Fischer was all for it.
“This project is really cool and relevant. We’d been contemplating something similar for Town. … but Tyler’s project is even more perfect,” Fischer said.
The exhibit, entitled “The American Farmer,” is a one-time gallery showing and preview of Stableford’s national portraiture project. “This is a project I pitched to Canon with my team, to photograph fine-art portraits of American farmers, ranchers, cheese makers and other food artisans across the country,” he said. Everyone on his crew has shot for the Canon project, which culminates in New York City in late September at the Photoville Art Festival in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
There’s another reason the local exhibit is so special for not only Stableford and his team, but for those of us that live here. The gallery showing at Town. on July 30 has a special focus on Roaring Fork Valley ranchers and farmers.
“A majority of the campaign has been and is still being shot here, with a special focus on Roaring Fork Valley farmers and ranchers,” Stableford said.
It’s obvious that the photographer has a great deal of respect for the breed. “Because land prices are so high it’s becoming increasingly difficult to be a rancher,” he explained. “I think it’s safe to say for the most part that the ranchers and farmers in the Roaring Fork Valley are a dying breed. It’s an incredibly arduous profession, subject to elements like drought, wildly fluctuating market prices, etc. It’s really difficult and I salute those who are doing it.”
Stableford says that one reason he’s attracted to farmers and ranchers is because they have interesting faces, characters and personas. “They’re rugged people who work the land all year, and to get to photograph these people in their backyard creates a personal connection between me and my subjects,” adding that besides the characters themselves, the landscapes and settings, are so visual. “This campaign celebrates the amazing imaging capabilities of Canon equipment from cameras and lenses to printers.”
Continuing, he said, “A lot of the ranching families have been reticent to be photographed. They’re not people who seek the spotlight and I hope the gallery opening is a way to share with the community what they do.”
Some of the local ranching families included in the project are the Nieslaniks, Fales, Strangs and Sewell’s, plus Milagro Ranch, Sustainable Settings, Woody Creek Distillers, Crystal River Meats and Wild Bear Bee Farms, among others. He has also photographed ranchers and farmers in Louisiana, Missouri New Hampshire Utah and elsewhere in Colorado; some of these images will be included in the upcoming preview.
Despite the awards and notoriety Stableford has received, he’s just a regular down-to-earth guy. He and his family regularly participate in community events and are loyal community members.
When he mentioned “some of my favorite field trips with the kids are to Sustainable Settings and Rock Bottom Ranch to be with the animals and to harvest eggs and fresh produce,” he became this photographer’s hero, not only as a photographer, but as a human being.
What: “The American Farmer” reception
When: 5 to 7 p.m. on July 30
Where: Town. restaurant, 348 Main St., Carbondale