Faces of Local: Camilla Calnan

ASAP likes to share the stories of people who help us fulfill our mission. This month we’re talking to photographer Camilla Calnan, who has volunteered her time and talent to photograph area farmers markets throughout the pandemic. You can also find her prints, as well as pop-up portrait mini sessions, at the Enka-Candler Tailgate Market on Thursdays. 

What drew you to photographing farmers and farmers markets?

As the reality of COVID-19 was setting in, I realized farmers, vendors, and the market support network could use more photography to help promote all the good things going on at tailgate markets. It began as a way to avoid the grocery store, buy local, and connect to the farming community. Then I started bringing the camera and it became a project. With weddings and events on hold this season, markets have been an outlet for me to figure out how to photograph masked portraits that still capture people’s personalities—all while adapting to shooting from behind a mask. Ultimately, it is a good way for me to give back to the farmers and makers that are continuously working hard to keep their community fed and supported as we push through this strange time. And the photojournalist in me knows these masked market photos will be a document of what we hope will be just a memory soon.

How have you seen the atmosphere at farmers markets change during the pandemic?

The main change I have seen is a shift from the uncertainty of the no-contact/masked/six-feet-apart reality to a feeling of “this is the new normal.” The love and community has not changed. Everyone just needed time to adapt and learn how to keep each other safe and keep the markets going. ASAP has been wonderful about evolving as the year has progressed.

Do you have a favorite local farm product in season right now?

One of my favorite things about the markets is enjoying the seasonal variety, but I must admit that peach and berry season might be my favorite. Peaches are never better than market fresh! I found the most wonderful blueberries at market recently, and with blackberries and wineberries growing at home, I cannot think of anything better. That is, until the next seasonal goodness arrives! I plan to make baked goods, but end up eating them all before that happens.

What are some of your other favorite photography subjects?

I love photographing all the things—especially moments of joy and love, whether at a wedding or event, portrait session, or of people at work and at play. The call of the mountains and to photograph nature while adventuring can be the best, too! It’s too hard to choose a favorite. Much of my work has been paused for now. Through all the challenges this year, I am thankful that the pandemic has given me the time to connect to this wonderful farmers market community. The magic of freezing time through photos will never cease to amaze me. Now to get that darkroom set back up and start shooting film again…

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