The Story Behind The Shot

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Credit: Ashley Sears

It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that the photograph above was taken from atop 12-foot ladder in the pouring rain while balancing my camera in one hand and a quart container of iced coffee in the other. Occurrences like this are neither uncommon nor frowned upon at Raven & Boar, making it one of my favorite places to shoot.

Juggling a custom furniture business, a heritage pig farm and a soon-to-be charcuterie kitchen, Ruby and Sather Duke are masters of organized chaos, and nothing makes me feel more at home. They know no surface is too high, too rickety or too uneven for me to stand on in order to get the shot. And I know that I’ll leave covered in mud with sawdust in my hair, campfire on my clothes and a stitch in my side from laughing so hard.

The image pictured here was taken the morning of their third harvest dinner, an annual event which brings their community together to celebrate a year of hard work, with a feast prepared by the chefs of Gramercy Tavern. The damp October morning was far from ideal for the tradition of roasting a whole pig — a challenge in the rain.

With the industrious creativity that encompasses everything at Raven & Boar, Sather quickly built a three-walled structure to cover the pit and a custom grate, sized perfectly to fit the 160-pound pig. And true to his trade, with pig in place, he soldered on the final touches. For me, this shot — more than any I’ve taken there — embodies their unique world of resourceful farming, innovative design and unconventional tactics. When moments like this arise I drop everything and reach for my camera. As always, they had the ladder ready and waiting.

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