Sustainable Prospects, Project Development - Dufur

I visited Dufur, Oregon last weekend, and had the pleasure of spending the weekend with a family I have come to know there. I am incredibly grateful to Samantha and Seth for welcoming me into their home and trusting me to photograph their family. As I aim to deepen my understanding of youth living in rural towns, spending this extended time with my subjects is increasingly important to me. 

The majority of these images are of Meliney, one of the children I am interested in documenting over the coming months. Meliney is 5 years old, and attends Dufur school. There are around 15 children in her year group, some of whom travel in from rural areas nearby. Meliney will stay at the same school, with almost all the same classmates, until she graduates at 18. Her father Seth also attended the school as a child, as did the parents of many of Meliney’s classmates.

These images have a more intimate feel than many of my previous shots, which were shot in a more spontaneous way, often with strangers. Playing with Meliney, speaking with her parents, and sleeping at their house overnight, all played an important role in the image making process. Strengthening my relationship with them will also benefit me in the future, when I return to photograph them again.  As these photographs have a different look and feel from work I have created before, I am keen to receive feedback from my peers and tutors. Moving forward, I would like to work closely with my subjects in this manner, and hope that in doing this, my work will more accurately reflect the lives of my subjects.  

I will visit Meliney and her family again soon. I also have leads for other children and teenagers that I can photograph in Dufur. Dufur, with a population of 604, it is much larger than other towns in Central Oregon such as Shaniko or Antelope, which each have less than 50 residents. I feel there would be more interest in documenting these even smaller towns, so I must reach out to my contacts in these areas to inquire about youth in their communities.

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