Artist of the Week: Jess Smalley

Shelton resident Jess Smalley has spent years documenting her life experiences through photography. Inspired by religion and the desire to capture people and places she sees, the 24-year-old farmer’s apprentice at Stone Gardens Farm spends her remaining time working on the acres of farmland.

"Photography to me, isn't necessarily an art as much as it is capturing other people's lives and leaving a mark in history as to how a certain time period and era has been,” said Smalley.

Currently, Smalley has been helping write and take photographs for a book on Stone Gardens Farm, the Shelton farmer’s market, and the surrounding farms in the city. The book will feature farm life throughout the seasons and will provide insight into the farming communities of Shelton.
"The farm photography for me is showing me the science of how people can live and how people are able to actually still sustain a living and help other people by feeding them,” Smalley said.

Dressed in her work clothes and with hands still dirty from a hard day's work, the photographer opened up her photo albums of personal and farm work. Her catalog of photos she has taken represent her experiences interacting with people, animals and places.

The work ranged from a tattooed hand foundly brushing up against a newborn child to a hog in its pigsty rising from the mud with its bright pink ears flapped out.

"I really love color, but I also really love dark tones and shadows so I try and usually take a subject and have the subject be very light and the background be very dark for the opposite to really show the contrast of like Yin and Yang, how you really need both forces to have anything,” Smalley said. “Everything from pavement to the stars inspires me."

She one day wants to travel the world and photograph her experiences. For now though she will still be at the farm documenting life and places.

According to Smalley, being an artist is about helping others through her work.

“People should be creating or working for other people not just for themselves,” Smalley said.

To view more of Smalley’s work visit her Flickr page