Down the Backroads: In-Person Meetings Make for Better StorytellingPosted on Jun 23, 2021
In-person meetings make for better storytelling
I am fortunate enough to have a job that allows, and often necessitates, much travel around this great state. Whether I’m interviewing someone for a story or just gathering as many photos as I can, it’s part of what I do in telling our agricultural story.
But travelling was one of the things paused as we endured a pandemic that has stretched into its second year. However, I did learn to utilize digital methods of communication for interviews and the repurposing of many years’ worth of digital photo files in an effort to publish on time.
I must say, I was glad to have these methods of communicating available during this terrible time of uncertainty, but I discovered, or rather rediscovered, how valuable it is to meet a person face-to-face or to visit an area in the present time as opposed to recalling memories through older photographs.
As purveyors of information, I know my fellow storytellers were glad to have these digital resources available to them, as well. But, there always seemed to be something missing in conducting work in this way, at least for me. Eye contact, a handshake, and a friendly smile can go a long way when creating a meaningful story.
For instance, I interviewed a farmer from West Kentucky a few years back who had recently lost his wife. And while the story was not about that, I was able to see the emotion in his eyes when he spoke of her and how much she had meant to him and his family. Knowing that and seeing it firsthand helped guide my words about him and his farm, and hopefully created a more meaning piece of work than if I had done this same interview via digital video means.
Then there was the time I visited another farm in the southern part of the state around planting time to talk to a producer specifically about the coming growing season. I was able to experience his excitement about planting a new crop. He was like a kid at Christmas as he anticipated what he hoped to be a banner year. I would not have felt that same excitement 100 miles away from an office on the phone.
How about the time I got to photograph a former Miss Kentucky for a state fair story? She was a joy to work with and was so patient as I took an untold number of photos that day. I learned about her background and family and I shared with her about mine. I made a new friend that day, and it has been a lasting friendship. That never would have happened via Zoom.
My point to all this is, there is no substitute for meeting people in person, to learn their stories by witnessing their emotions. And our rural farm families have such incredible stories to tell as we all can learn something from them, especially the fact that we depend upon them every time we have a meal.
As we get closer to this pandemic ending, I look forward to many more face-to-face meetings, finding new friends, and telling more stories as I travel down the backroads.
To see the June 2021 issue of KFB News in its entirety, click here.