Originally from Greece, professional photographer Marco Kesseler studied at Falmouth University and has been commissioned by the Financial Times, Guardian and Toast. Collaborations include GRAIN Projects and Falmouth Food Co-op, as well as on display via a Covid-19 pandemic show at Selfridges in 2021, Return to Nature.
In this interview, the carbon-negative photographer outlines his work profiling hedgerows, the agility of small-scale producers and labour migration within farming.
You've been shooting in British farming for several years. How have your views evolved or changed over this time?
I began photographing the subject over five years ago, originally recording elements of the agricultural hidden landscape, studying the evolving relationship between natural and manufactured over the changing seasons. The work developed to collaborate more with the farmers and seasonal workers in the wake of the Brexit referendum, I wanted to highlight the hard work that often goes unnoticed as well as document a pivotal time in British farming. As a whole I think there is a bit of a disconnect between producer and consumer - we go to the supermarket where everything is sealed in plastic and we don’t get to appreciate the care that goes into growing, picking and supplying the food we eat.
Your work exposes tensions between conflict between ecological commitments, politics and immigration. Can you outline situations where you've found these to be in harmony across the supply chain from farm, kitchen to table?
Generally the area where I have seen this work best is across the smaller scale of production - independent producers, community led initiatives and employee owned companies. These seemed to have the highest satisfaction among staff and were often more environmentally friendly by not having large monocultures, more areas left wild for pollinators and less use of pesticides.
What did you learn about your time working with Falmouth Food Coop?
It was great to work with an agricultural cooperative that works to support both farmers and customers. Because of the scale of production it also meant that the Coop could be much more flexible based on the availability of produce according to seasons and weather patterns.
What should more people know about hedgerows in the UK?
Hedgerows are incredibly biodiverse habitats, providing both food and safety for a large variety of animals. However since the 1950’s we have lost over 100,000 miles of hedgerows due to the intensification of farming.
Can you outline your interest in the role of European seasonal migrants in UK farming? What dialogue were you trying to open with your Harvest images?
These images were made at a time of great uncertainty surrounding the industry. As the UK seems to become more divisive, I wanted not only to document a moment in time, but celebrate the people who make up an essential workforce that is often hidden from society.
What do you have in store for 2023 and where do you plan to take your work in 2024?
Alongside commissions, I’m continuing to work on projects that explore our relationship with nature and the environment, I hope to be able to share more details soon!