Marjorie Gayle Guyler-Alaniz wants to change your perception of what a farmer looks like. If the image that comes to mind is a guy in a plaid shirt and a cowboy hat, Guyler-Alaniz’s photographs documenting female agriculture workers, or
FarmHers, show a different reality. Guyler-Alaniz’ pictures depict women leading cattle drives, manning tractors, and harvesting crops. “I don’t think most people look as agriculture as something of beauty,” says Guyler-Alaniz. “Too often, the beauty of a woman, of an image, is judged by a face. These are beautiful women, doing beautiful work and my goal is to bring an appreciation to what they do.”
A native of Iowa, whose grandparents were farmers, Guyler-Alaniz was inspired to start the project when she saw a truck commercial during the 2013 Superbowl. The ad showed tough, cool farmers—but almost all of them were men. Initially, she didn’t think anything of the omission. “It was the same way I’ve always seen agricultural depicted--as mostly guys.” The next day Guyler-Alaniz read an article about the commercial asking where the female farmers where, and the idea for FarmHer was born. Guyler-Alaniz, who has a degree in photography and graphic design, had just left an 11-year career in corporate agriculture, and in that moment she knew exactly what she wanted to do. She hoped to document powerful women in agriculture and change the notion of what a farmer looks like.
“Right now, the stats show that 30% family farms are co-run by women, but I think that number isn’t accurate. The numbers are probably higher,” says Guyler-Alaniz. “I hope that my photographs create an awareness about who is actually growing food, who is actually the farmer. I hope that it empowers women who are in agriculture to say ‘I am an important part of this.’ She also hopes that her work might inspire younger women to think about a different kind of career. “The average age of a farmer is increasing. The average age is 61-years-old. That’s an ongoing issue. So it’s important to show young women the reality of this work, and to help move forward.”
As of today, Guyler-Alaniz has photographed over 65 women all over the country, including Iowa, Texas, Florida, Nebraska, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. “It’s a long term goal to show different types of agriculture in different parts of the country.” She sells the photographs through her website. Guyler-Alaniz has also been surprised that her FarmHer name is creating a sense of empowerment. Her t-shirts and merchandise with the FarmHer logo has been selling out. As to why she thinks the products are so successful, Guyler-Alaniz is quick to respond: “I think that people are proud to say that they are a FarmHer.”