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An Image Speaks: Old Tobacco Barns and Carrots

Footnotes (Blog) / No Comment / 23/01/2018

Text and photographs by Chris Sheppard

Tobacco Barns at Centenary

I found myself early for my first appointment down in the Palm Block, not far from Centenary.  Knowing the person I was scheduled to meet would not be available until the agreed time, I wandered further down the road to find somewhere to stop and have a coffee.

I came across an old tobacco barn complex on the side of the road. The early morning light and backdrop of heavy clouds made for an interesting photographic composition, further enhanced by the framing effect of the two trees at the entrance. I pulled in, looking for the best angle to capture the scene.

I was so engrossed in my image capture quest that I did not notice a man coming towards me until I heard : “Good morning, Sir. How are you?”

Somewhat startled, I looked out to the left of my vehicle to see a well-dressed man looking at me with a smile on his face.

“I am good, thank you and good morning to you,” I replied. “How are things in Centenary?”

“Very good, very good,” my fellow road user answered. “We could just use some rain – this drought is serious. Can I help you?”

“Thank you, no, I am just waiting for my next visit,” I said looking anxiously towards the shifting light on the barns next to me, wondering if I would miss the perfect moment.

“Ah, good, my friend,” came the response.

Then he said: “We are farmers here on this farm and I would like to offer you some of our produce as proof of our endeavours.”

He handed me a punnet of bright orange carrots.

The photograph was forgotten as I expressed my appreciation, feeling very humbled by the generosity of his gesture.

I clapped my hands in traditional thanks, before saying goodbye to my new-found vegetable supplier. I watched him walk towards the roadside where he found a nearby tree, settling down to wait for a passing vehicle to (hopefully) carry him to his next market place.

“The barns!  The lights! The picture!”  Thoughts came rushing back to me. Looking back to my right, the sun had peeped out from behind the clouds, bathing the rich red bricks in a soft attractive light… just right. The perfect shot.

Out with the camera, check the settings, look through the viewfinder, compose…  snap, snap… and the scene was “in the bag.”

I waved to my fellow traveller as I left, receiving a cheerful farewell in return to send me on my way to my appointment.


Chris Sheppard is an ex-farmer who still works the soil by proxy. He has always been an outdoor person and a camera has added a new dimension to this passion. His work takes him all over the northern areas of Zimbabwe, often covering 1,500kms in a week. These journeys offer much scope for a photographer – as a result scenes that many people see, but are too busy to stop are now captured on camera. Writing is a skill in progress and adds value to a comprehensive photographic portfolio.


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