Photographer Dave Liggett

Behind the Scenes

They’ve explored the ins and outs of farms and food businesses to tell the stories of Farm Bureau members. We asked them to share three of their favorite images along with their experiences documenting Ohio’s food and agricultural community.   

Dave Liggett
You never know what you’re going to get when you show up for an assignment, says Liggett, who describes photography as visual problem solving.

Walking a group of pigs down the road was just one of the new experiences Liggett had when he visited the Schumm farm in northwest Ohio. The daily walks down the rural route helped the pigs prepare for the showring at the county fair. Liggett chose this photo of farmer Mike Schumm’s hand brushing the tips of wheat for its timeless quality that ties the farmer to the land.  And fortunately, he says of the background, “somebody just happened to build a barn in the right location.”

I’m always looking for that classic farm image, that timeless shot that people just look at and wonder was that taken yesterday or was that taken 50 years ago.

When farmer Don Ralph invited us to travel with him on Lake Erie to showcase his passion for protecting the environment, Liggett was all in. Literally. He grabbed a few life preservers and jumped into the lake to get this shot.  It was well worth it, Liggett said. Before they headed back to shore, they had their limit of walleye.

While I was focusing on trying to get a picture, I’d get a mouthful of water and I was hoping that I didn’t deep six my camera.

It was the way that the family worked together that inspired Liggett during his visit to the Winner dairy farm in western Ohio. He found himself in the right spot as Rita Winner was feeding the calves and her brother Orville wandered into frame. Without prompting, they looked at the camera and smiled. As Liggett put it, “They just seem really happy to be doing what they’re doing.”

It was one of those magic moments that seem to just happen; you can’t really make them happen.

JODI MILLER

When farmers forget about the camera and take her along in their day, Miller says she gets her best photos. To spend a season, or even a year, documenting life on a farm “would be a dream,” she said.   

The greeting of a farm dog is one of Miller’s favorite experiences as she visits farms throughout the state. One she got to know well was Highland County farmer Nathan Brown’s dog “Tootsie Roll,” who insisted on riding shotgun in Nathan’s truck. “Everybody has been willing to have me there and let me photograph their personal lives, and that’s always surprising to find people who are open like that,” she said.  

Toots left Nathan’s side just long enough to catch a ground hog and play fetch with a few harvested ears of corn.

The way siblings Logan and Marissa Kruthaup built and managed their southwest Ohio farm was an impressive and inspiring story, Miller said. And in her 15 years of photographing agriculture, she can’t recall a negative experience. “Farmers, every time you go, are happy to see you, happy to show you around, happy to explain things, happy to give you their time, ” she said.  

Farmers are amazing, hardworking, get-it-done kind of people. It’s just a good energy to be around.  

When we asked Miller to choose a favorite photo for this story, this image of Charles McLaughlin was one of the first that came to mind. Not because of anything special she did photographically, but because of the memory of meeting the McLaughlins on their Blue Rock Farm in eastern Ohio.  “For me, it’s less waiting for the perfect moment and more trying to maximize the time you have with a busy farmer,” she said.

Mr. McLaughlin never stopped moving. His wife Ruth told me he can do anything and I believed her.