Sunday, August 7, 2016

Photograph what you're truly passionate about

Posted By on Sun, Aug 7, 2016 at 7:00 AM

click to enlarge Wesley Chapel is my spiritual home. Many of my relatives are buried in the chapel's cemetery and my mother was married here. Years ago, the chapel served as a hub for the farming community. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Wesley Chapel is my spiritual home. Many of my relatives are buried in the chapel's cemetery and my mother was married here. Years ago, the chapel served as a hub for the farming community.
Last weekend, I drove 600 miles to celebrate my grandmother Hilma's 95th birthday. My grandmother lives in Linn County, Kansas, a remote corner of the state where she raised a family of four and helped to run the family farm with my grandfather, now deceased.

My family has lived and worked in this rural county for five generations. My great, great, grandfather, Jacob Ungeheuer, immigrated from Germany, fought for the Union Army in the Civil War, homesteaded and raised his family here.
click to enlarge Jacob Ungeheuer, 11, stands in the hallway of the old Blue Mound high school and elementary school. Jacob is the fifth generation of his family to grow up in rural Linn County, Kansas. His father and his grandfather (as well as my mother) attended the school in Blue Mound. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Jacob Ungeheuer, 11, stands in the hallway of the old Blue Mound high school and elementary school. Jacob is the fifth generation of his family to grow up in rural Linn County, Kansas. His father and his grandfather (as well as my mother) attended the school in Blue Mound.
Growing up I spent part of my summers playing with my cousins in Kansas. When I became a photojournalist, fresh out of school, I started my career here. I lived with my grandmother, documenting the family farm and processing and printing the pictures I made in a darkroom that I built by hand in one of the old farm houses.
click to enlarge A turkey vulture flies over W. 1100 Rd. where my grandparent's farm is. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • A turkey vulture flies over W. 1100 Rd. where my grandparent's farm is.

I try to return to the family farm as often as I can. My grandmother Hilma lives in an assisted living facility now, and my extended family is growing. Happily, she is surrounded by her children, grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren.
click to enlarge Hilma watches as her great-grandchildren play during her 95th birthday celebration. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Hilma watches as her great-grandchildren play during her 95th birthday celebration.
I love to photograph my family and revisit the rural landscape. It’s my passion, and I’ve been doing it for the more than 20 years. A story like this one is never-ending and each time I visit I find a new ways to tell it.
click to enlarge A field of beans on the family farm in Linn County, Kansas. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • A field of beans on the family farm in Linn County, Kansas.

When I began my career, little did I realize that I would still be telling this story. Now I'm grateful for it. It sustains my vision. 
click to enlarge Four generations of my extended family during my grandmother's 95th birthday. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Four generations of my extended family during my grandmother's 95th birthday.
If you have a passion, especially if it's personal to you, there’s no better way to use your camera than to document your passion. Over time, the nature of your work will grow and change, and become even more meaningful. 

Colorado Springs-based wedding photographer Sean Cayton loves remarkable photographs and the stories behind them. See his wedding work at caytonphotography.com, his personal work at seancayton.com and his editorial work in the pages of the Independent.

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