In Focus: A photographer’s magical celebration of the farmers of Yorkshire

Photographer Valerie Mather has chronicled the lives of farmers in her award-winning images, which are now collected together in a handsome book: Yorkshire Born & Bred: Farming Life.

Inspired by an article in Country Life, which stated that only 3% of UK farmers are under 35, country-minded photographer Valerie Mather has created a beautiful book to help give this community a voice. The photographs featured in Yorkshire Born & Bred: Farming Life won her a Royal Photographic Society Associateship last year.

Many of our farmers come from families that have tended the same soil for generations, often struggling to make a living in the face of ignorance and, especially these days, ill-informed negative press about animal welfare.

From ‘Yorkshire Born & Bred: Farming Life’. ©Valerie Mather

What’s more, ‘the average age of a British farmer is 59, meaning they are mostly in their sixties and seventies’, without obvious successors, she explains. ‘There are other worrying statistics, too, such as the fact that the suicide rate for farmers is almost twice the national average.’

From ‘Yorkshire Born & Bred: Farming Life’. ©Valerie Mather

Miss Mather chose to document farming families in Yorkshire to give the industry a boost in these ‘challenging and changing times’. ‘I feel passionately that these people don’t have a voice and I want to raise awareness of their plight as, without these custodians, our landscape will be degraded or lost to development, as will our choice to eat high-quality, healthy, locally produced food,’ she writes.

From ‘Yorkshire Born & Bred: Farming Life’. ©Valerie Mather

‘Farming is hard work, but the passion for this way of life is still there on the faces of the people in this book.’

‘Yorkshire Born & Bred’ will be published at the beginning of March at £25 — see www.valeriematherphotography.co.uk to order a copy.