Getting the Farm Camera-Ready


Photo by Carol Ann Sayle

The author's Austin, Texas farmhouse appeared in the Wall Street Journal's real estate section last week. Here, she offers a behind-the-scenes description of the photo shoot:

The photographer, on his second trip to the farm, said The Wall Street Journal needed more photos of the interior of the farm house. This, on a market day! So instead of my usual sly-selling of vegetables--as in, "Have you ever tried purslane?"--I immediately begged him for ten minutes so I could rush to the house and swipe away some of the clutter.

You never see clutter in a news photograph lest it be in the interest of showing exactly how hellish the hermit's lair was, as, weaving their way through stacks of old newspapers and mounds of permanent laundry, the officials extricated all the cats and the keeper in the interest of his/her own safety.

We were pleased with the article, but even more pleased with the real estate market opinion. Lower value means lower taxes right?

Never in house fashion magazines do they show egg cartons and seed packages strewn over the kitchen counter. And Larry's unwashed breakfast saucer relaxing yolkily in the sink, with its accompanying yellow/silver fork! Rarely do they even show the inhabitants' television set! Surely the photographer would use careful angles...Bearing all that in mind, and doubting the careful-angle aspect, I raced from counter to table, washing the dishes, scooping up the "thises and thats" and carting them all to the hall, which I hoped he would not photograph.

And he didn't, but he did include the television set, revealing our shallow side. Well, at the end of the day, exhausted by the heat, we like to retreat to our darkened cave, place ourselves in our lean-back chairs and, gasp! watch some TV. Resting our brains, you know. Like almost everyone else.

The article in the Journal was more about the historic farmhouse than the surrounding farmland, but since it appeared in the "real estate section," it did mention the economic value of the property. The consulting RealtorĀ© noted that while the farm had an elevated value three years ago, and in today's market it would sell for half of that. Furthermore, he said that it's hard to find buyers who want to farm, so presumably it would sell for development, since five acres of land in the middle of the city is equally hard to find. However, he cautioned, developers aren't too "keen on this area."

We were pleased with the article, but even more pleased with the real estate market opinion. Lower value means lower taxes, right? And of course, we'd never sell the farm anyway. Why would we? We'd just have to look for another one, and five acres in the city would be hard to find.

To read the Wall Street Journal article online, click here.