— Drawn from Clay, Noordoostpolder

Farmer Portraits document the livelihood and variety of farmers who worked the soil of the Noordoostpolder during Atelier NL's residency. Methodically visiting up to five farms a day, Lonny and Nadine dug potatoes, rode tractors, and witnessed the birth of a calves. By the end of their residency, 80 farmers had shared their livelihoods and hospitality, providing personal stories to complement the history the land. Each farmer wrote down their name, parcel number and the type of vegetable they grow. Many of the farmers who befriended by Atelier NL no longer reside in the polder, which has been taken over by larger producers in recent years. Paul Scala, an Australian photographer based in London, captured vivid working portraits of 42 of the farmers that Atelier NL got to know during their time in the polder.

Farmer Portraits by Paul Scala

"A bucket filled with earth is anonymous; the farmers' stories give the ground identity."

Getting to know the Noordoostpolder region meant starting with the farmers who earned a living by working the soil. Atelier NL visited several farmers each day, listening to their stories, collecting information, and digging up bucket of soil from their fields. "The farmers were skeptical that we would be able to make anything from their earth," remembers Nadine. "They were like, 'Good luck, ladies!' But they were also very kind, offering us coffee, driving us around on their tractors, and sharing information about the land."

Collecting soil from a farmer's field.

Paul Scala’s atmospheric portraits provide a vibrant look into life in the polder. By capturing the farmers on their own turf, Scala crafted stunning photographs of the individuals that bring the Noordoostpolder to life.