Read more about some of my current projects:



Coconut, a rescued sheep living at Piedmont Farm Animal Refuge in North Carolina

Coconut, a rescued sheep living at Piedmont Farm Animal Refuge in North Carolina

SPOTLIGHT: Sanctuaries

This is an ongoing project which now includes many sanctuaries devoted to rescuing farm animals in the worst of circumstances and giving them a home.  Ten percent of sales of my photographs are donated to those organizations to assist them in their work. Click button below to see the photographs or to read an article by Farm Sanctuary about my work and that of other photographers at the sanctuary. Here’s an excerpt:

Joel Anderson uses his cameras to tell stories. Growing up on a Pennsylvania farm, he developed a deep love of animals and rural life. Several years ago, he began photographing rescued animals at sanctuaries including Farm Sanctuary, and realized he could use the popularity of the images to raise funds for shelter support. Ten percent of the sale of each photograph is given directly to the shelter. After living in California and the Southwest, he returned to Pennsylvania, where he lives with his wife and a family of rescued animals.

Farm Sanctuary has been a magical experience every time I’ve gone up to photograph, and sharing the images with people has led to happy connections with folks who have seen my photographs at art shows or online and either already support Farm Sanctuary or are now inspired to learn more about it.

Some of my Farm Sanctuary photographs are on my website for sale, and I’ve been able to make donations several times to the Farm Sanctuary Emergency Rescue Fund with proceeds from sales of the photographs which has been really gratifying. Susie and Luke [Hess, Farm Sanctuary’s Photo & Video Content Manager] have been very accommodating, and I hope to continue visiting and photographing, and honoring the work you all do.

Do you have any tips for taking an animal’s photo?

My biggest tip for photographing animals is more about the photographer and less about the cameras (I used a medium format film camera for Ogar’s portrait and most of the other sanctuary photos I’ve taken) — treat the animal just like you would a person when photographing them, not as an object. Give it a few minutes and establish a rapport, and get a sense of the animal as an individual. They’re not objects, although too many photographers treat them that way.

a slave dwelling in South Carolina

a slave dwelling in South Carolina

spotlight: the slave dwellings

The fragile wooden shacks I've photographed once were home to slaves in the United States. These walls offered the only privacy in the lives of the enslaved during the few hours they spent there each night, brackets to their days of labor and abuse.

Out of the tens of thousands of slave houses only a tiny minority remain. Almost all have disappeared leaving nothing but foundation stones behind. A few survived in the decades after slavery as homes for sharecroppers and other poverty level workers. Some have been repurposed as everything from rental units to guest houses despite cries of sacrilege and disrespect of their history. A handful have been rebuilt and reclaimed for use as educational tools. A scattered few are crumbling away in silence even now.

Small and plain, the slave dwellings were built in a similar style regardless of the location.

America has a troubled relationship with its past and as visible evidence the slave cabins cause discord today, with some opponents openly expressing their desire to see the past disintegrate and with it reminders of that time period.

I'm photographing with an 8x16" film camera and printing silver gelatin photographs in the darkroom. Some I am altering with bleach to visually communicate the sense of fading away of the structures.

There are slave dwellings throughout the country beyond the expected southern states. In this ongoing project I intend to seek out those slave structures that are on private lands and unrestored, and photograph them and their environment before they are gone.

I am inspired by the work of two people in particular: Joseph McGill, a historian who has set a goal of sleeping in every existing slave dwelling in the country as a way to honor his ancestors and keep this history visible, and Jobie Hill, an academic whose work has focused on slave dwellings, both the location and preservation of the buildings, and their effect on those who lived in them.

Farmer Bob, photographed for my project Hard Coal about the last independent anthracite miners

Farmer Bob, photographed for my project Hard Coal about the last independent anthracite miners

READ ABOUT: Ongoing Photographic Projects

Many of my images for sale are taken from intensive projects I'm working on, including former slave dwellings across the US, threatened old-growth forests, farm animals in sanctuaries, the last anthracite miners, and the changing landscape of my rural hometown. To read more about these ongoing projects click the button below.


photographs from my project Hard Coal in the Washington Post

October 13 2017