Frank Döring finds a microcosm of the human—and animal—condition at the state and county fairs that take place all summer long within a day’s drive of his Lexington home. “There is skill and knowledge to appreciate (including sage advice on breeding prettier udders); there is courage, strength, joy, and hilarity; there is pain, exhaustion, and disappointment,” he says.
Agricultural fairs draw more visitors than major league baseball games annually. Yet, unlike the long tradition of street photography in big cities, there has been little serious examination of these rural events that celebrate the way of life in farming communities.
With great empathy and the occasional tongue in cheek, Döring has been photographing the champion steers, greased piglets, sheep rodeos, and garish midways since 2011. In his images, children expertly guide farm animals around the show ring, teenagers use blow dryers to fluff up heifers, and whole families form tableaux vivant at concession stands and carnival games.
He has also been working on a series of roadside views in Kentucky and surrounding states and has photographed a wide variety of landscape and architectural subjects.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.