What (and Who) "Local" really looks like

By Gabriella Marks

As a farm-to-table photographer, I have the distinct pleasure of going out to see and document first-hand the amazing abundance of fresh produce that our regional farmers cultivate. I call my photographic subject “farm to table”, but in truth, it’s the people at both poles of this edible ecosystem that bring the subject alive for me.

Still life photography is vibrant in its detail – and it’s always an engaging challenge to capture the color palette of freshly harvested heirloom tomatoes, or the exquisite composition and balance of a perfectly plated entrée. But at the heart of it all, I’m captivated by portraits – capturing an authentic moment on the faces of the individuals who nurture the seedlings and those whose knowledge of seasoning compliments that produce. Really, I’m a farmer-to-chef-to-eater photographer.

I’m fascinated by, and feel deep gratitude towards, the people who dedicate their lives and land and hands to actually making this happen. No one becomes a farmer out of a desire for glamour, social prestige or vast wealth. I wouldn’t presume to speak on behalf of all farmers to say why they do what they do, but I would hazard a guess that some do it out of a desire to continue the family traditions they were raised with, or to create new ones with their own children. That some do it for the deep satisfaction of feeding themselves and their community after a hard day’s work, and out of a personal commitment to growing food sustainably. And maybe some farm for the pleasure of companionship, working beside friends with shared values out in epically beautiful landscapes. But no matter the reason, one thing is sure: these are folks waking well before the rest of us do, working long days under the hot sun, sometimes with unsure results; they are the backbone, heart and soul of local farm to table food.

Verde plays a vital role in the cause of sustainable regional farming by creating consistent demand for fresh local fruits, herbs and vegetables that supports the local grower community. And of course, by delivering all of that incredible health bounty in a beautiful palette of juices that we then get to enjoy.

This fall, October 1-4, I’m teaching a farm-to-table photography workshop through the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops. It’s a rare opportunity to meet some local farmers in their “native habitats”. It’s an opportunity to create photographs that capture what “local” really looks like, following the route from real farms to real tables, and meeting the real people who make it happen. I hope you’ll join me.   Click here for more info on my workshop.


Gabriella Marks is a San Franciscan expat music shooter turned chef-and-farmer groupie. She arrived in New Mexico on pure intuition, but knows why she stays: the spectacular high desert light, the lenticular clouds, and the humbling experience of urging a single squash plant from the dry clay soil and ancient pueblo pottery shards in the garden. Her respect for, and relationships with, the farmers and chefs in the region grows daily.

A recognized name in the regional food world, Gabriella has been expanding her horizons to encompass lifestyle and portrait work in the Southwest and beyond.

Gabriella's work is in the permanent collection of the New Mexico History Museum, and last year was featured in the prestigious Review Santa Fe, as well as on the New Mexico regional component of THE FENCE, the largest outdoor exhibit of photography in the Southwest, in partnership with United Photo Industries. Clients include New York Times, Food Network, Wall Street Journal, Walmart, Amazon, Ford, AIA, Santa Fe Farmer's Market, Santa Fe Opera, Museums of New Mexico Foundation, Thoma Foundation, Outside Bike and Brew, New Mexico Wine Grower's Association and more. 

From a working perspective, she’s driven to discover in every single shot an opportunity to frame moments and light in harmonious and striking detail. Perhaps the most single most powerful thing she has learned is how essential good listening - to the client, to the subject, to the environment - is crucial to creating the right image. 

Gabriella lives just a touch north of Santa Fe out in the wilds of Pojoaque.

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