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Documenting planting season on the family farm


My Uncle David is in his 70's still farms our family's farm which has been in our family for four generations. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • My Uncle David is in his 70's still farms our family's farm which has been in our family for four generations.
You might remember an earlier column where I gave the following advice about photography:

“If you have a passion, especially if it's personal to you, there’s no better way to use your camera than to document your passion. Over time, the nature of your work will grow and change, and become even more meaningful.”

I’m a big believer in photographing what interests you most. Over the years, I’ve learned that if I don’t, then why bother?

Last spring I decided to return to my Kansas roots and to photograph my Uncle David, now in his 70s, planting soybeans on the family farm.

Farmers can’t stop during planting season. Everything has to go in the ground immediately. My Uncle David worked for several days to plant the roughly 700 acres of farm ground. During this time seeds are picked up, loaded on to the planter, while crop prices are constantly checked, of course.

This small family farm has remained in our family for four generations. It may well be that my two Uncles, David and Dillard, will be the last generation of my family to actually work the land.

I thought it would be fitting to spend some time documenting this event, something I had never done in the past. I plan to return this fall for the harvest.

During my visit I also spent some time quality time soaking up my family history, much of which I didn’t know, and visiting family including my Grandmother Hilma, the matriarch, now in her 90s.

I’ve been documenting the story of my Kansas farm family for more than 20 years. As I continue to pursue my passion, the resulting photographs have more and more resonance.

Sean Cayton is a wedding photojournalist of 19 years and operates a successful, award-winning wedding photography studio in Colorado Springs. He's also an award-winning photojournalist. Sean is happily married to the love of his life (also his business partner) and is father to three beautiful children. When he’s not working, Sean can be found outside flying kites with his kids, hitting golf balls or casting a fly rod to hungry trout.

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