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Cranberry Boggin! (Yes, like the Ocean Spray commercials)

Mike Wainio, owner of the Wainio Bogs in Carver, Massachusetts.

Last week I was way out in Massachusetts wrapping up the last part of a two week trip around New England areas – a mix of work and leisure travel. For those not familiar, Carver is right outside Boston, and home to my friend Merri and her family. Well, it turns out that Carver is a MASSIVE cranberry producer – at one point in the mid 1900s being the largest producer in the US.
I had ALWAYS wanted to see the cranberry bogs and flooded fields in person. And while visiting one of the Wainio bogs I was invited to come back and see them flood the fields the next day!

You have no idea how excited I was. Hell. Yes.

Honestly I tried my best to not be pushy with my friends about coming back right on time the following day. But this chance was going to make my whole trip that much more awesome. Seriously. We’ve all seen the Ocean Spray commercials with the fields full of floating cranberries. I was about to see that in real life. Sweet!

Well that Saturday I returned to the bogs with my friend Brittany. I chatted with Tony, who runs the Berry Guys Farm Stand on location there where you can buy all sorts of fresh fruit and vegetables. It was Tony who had first invited me out to see the flooding the day before and also said I could come back watch the harvesting. I then spoke briefly with Mike and Brandon who were going to be farming the field and doing the actual harvesting. They said come back in an hour or so and they’d be out there working.

No problem. To the coffee shop!

An hour later Brittany dropped me off so I could shoot – she had a couple errands to run.

I wandered out to the bog where Mike and Brandon were starting their laps on the threshers. I waved hello and pointed to my camera and threw a thumbs-up… basically non-verbally asking if it was cool to take photos of them. Mike yelled back “Wanna come out here with us?” “Uh… YEAH!” was my response.

I walked around to the ramps. Mike picked me up on his thresher, and soon I was out on the water with them harvesting cranberries! SO.DAMN.COOL. I’m sure to a degree I seemed “so Californian” to think this was as great as it was, but who gets a chance like this out of the blue?

I spent the next hour and a half with Mike chatting about everything from cranberries to motocross – Mike used to race motocross and I used to handle all photography for K&N Filters, so he was completely familiar with my old employer.
There was so much I never knew about cranberry bogging that I learned.. here are a few things…

There are two types of harvesting. Wet harvest and Dry harvest. Wet harvest is what people all know about due to photos and Ocean Spray commercials, the flooded fields. These berries are immediately brought to the plant for processing since they will spoil within about 48 hours. Wet harvest berries are used in jams, sauce, juice, etc. Dry pick berries are harvested with a different type of thresher and used for everything else (dried berries, cooked into foods, etc).

Below are 40 more images I shot while at the bogs. I encourage everyone to read on. The experience was really amazing, and I’ll share more in the captions as usual.

Click the break for the rest of the images:
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Dairy Farm & Rancher portraits, Tennessee

At 81 years old you wouldn’t expect to hear that Gerald Hitchcock is still working his ranch. But ask him anything thing related to his farm and he’ll smile and answer proudly.

Gerald is actually my step-dad’s father. So, this blog is a bit more personal since I don’t typically post a lot of family related things here. However the fact that he’s 81 and still gets up every day to work his ranch is just an awesome story in itself.
The portrait I shot of him is quite simple, really.
“I have the ranch cuz I had the tractor (bulldozer)” he told me when I asked about the large piece of equipment. He pointed out that over the years it was the the tractor that made the money to allow him to get the farm and feed the family. Mrs. Hitchcock, his wife who still hosts family gatherings at the holidays cooking tons of food for everyone, even told me “Oh that’ll be good (gettin a photo with the bulldozer). That tractor has been the backbone of our economy (for the family).”

I wanted to keep the image simple and straight forward. And while I originally thought of just having a standard shot with his ranch/property in the background, it quickly became obvious how integral this piece of machinery was to the family.


As I’ve gotten older and progressed in my career as a photographer since my college days, I’ve realized more and more how important personal images are to me. And, with that, the importance of photos of my family. I’ve since started a personal project of creating portraits of my family members, starting with my own grandparents. I will probably share those in a later post. But, when talking to my step-dad about his parents, I knew his father would be an awesome portrait to take simply because he’s still working and doesn’t seem as old as he is when you talk to him.


Jim Grissom is the nephew of Gerald Hitchcock (above).
Jim was born and raised in Tennessee; he owns and operates Mountain Farm Dairy in Van Buren County.

I met up with Jim on a hot afternoon when he was busy working to repair one of the farm’s tractors. He was covered in dirt and laughing at the idea of me wanting to take his portrait. But, that was exactly what I was hoping to capture… him in his element.

Dairy farming is a hard job. A 15-16 hour work day, seven days a week is something that most people would never do. Jim and his family are proud farmers though – he and his sons have degrees in Agriculture and all returned to the farm after completing school.

Jim, while calm in these shots, was actually laughing quite a bit at my choice of location for the photos. But, being a very bright day I needed him in the shade so I could capture a nice shot of his face and eyes.

I’ve always had a lot of respect for farmers. I think it’s one of the most under-appreciated jobs in the US. So meeting people that are proud of what they do like Jim and Gerald – family or not – is humbling. So when you start whining about your office being too hot/cold, or complain that you have to put in an hour of overtime one day… remember that there are people out there working twice as hard. And they’re proud to do it.

I’ll be continuing this series over the next couple weeks. So check back those of you who are enjoying these portraits.

Also coming up will be more modeling photos. So, I may shift over to a different extreme in photography and be posting beach model photos in the next week. Haha. We’ll see…