A New York Cider Story
Fishkill Farm, home of Treasury Cidery
A New York Cider Story: by Amy Scott
When I learned that New York State cideries were being impacted by COVID in dramatically different ways- both positive and negative, I couldn’t get the story out of my head.
I had connections in the Hudson Valley and had been there for a job earlier in the summer. It was through these contacts that I learned about the cider industry, and I felt an urgency in the discovery, concerned that no one was talking about how these small businesses were being impacted by COVID. I decided to go to New York from Houston after researching and calling around for several weeks, and learning more. I had learned that New York cideries had a split experience in 2020, some doing incredibly well, while others suffered large losses (some up to 50% of their projected annual revenue) because of lost wholesale accounts.
As I got to know the cidermakers and their products, I fell in love with their stories, and wanted to find a way to share what was happening in their community. I decided to extend my stay and spend more time, so I could get to know each one better, and have more time to show the flurry of activity that takes place in fall at the cideries, as harvest and pressing take place.
Because this opportunity came up suddenly, I had to work quickly and on a tight budget.
I researched and communicated with each subject before I arrived, and had developed a rough shot list based on my research.
I traveled light, with my D850 and z7, a tripod, a few lenses, a clipboard with releases, and rain gear. On location, I followed whatever task the work crew was doing, setting up my tripod with the Z7 to capture b-roll of different scenes every few minutes, while I shot stills on my D850. Each evening I would review the images and footage, deciding what had worked, what angles I should get the next day, and adding to the shot list.
Safety During COVID
Completing this project, during the time of COVID shutdowns, required a lot of thought and planning.
While I had travelled earlier in the year for jobs, I had always chosen to drive because I had the time and flexibility.
This time, I had discovered the story as it was happening, and the harvest and pressing season was almost over. I was doing research over the phone initially, having calls with cidermakers throughout NY, and quickly I realized that the window for images was almost over. In order to move quickly, I had to fly from Houston to NY.
I took all the precautions that I could on the short timeline, doing research on photojournalist quarantine exemptions for work, how to travel safely, and obtaining an N95 mask and face shield to wear throughout the travel process. I wore the N95 mask from the moment I entered the airport in Houston, TX until I got into my rental car in Newark, NJ, choosing not to drink any water or eat during that time so that there was never a break in wearing the respirator so I didn't increase my risk unnecessarily.
Because there was also no time for quarantine, harvest was going to be over within 2 weeks, I communicated with each one of the cidermakers about the risks of my visit. They knew that I had just traveled, and that I would be wearing a mask at all times that was with them, including outdoors, and maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet at all times. Because the work was taking place outdoors, or in large, ventilated spaces, everyone decided they were comfortable moving forward with my visit.
I don't think this would be appropriate for all shoot scenarios. I considered the risks, made informed decisions, and I feel I did the best that I could within the constraints of the moment. I knew no one else was telling this story, and it was important enough for me to take on some level of risk personally, as long as I could ensure I was not going to be putting my subjects in danger.
In the future, I would choose to build in the time to receive 2 negative tests before moving forward with a project like this, to be even safer.
I am so glad I took the risk to go meet the cidermakers and tell their story. This was an incredible experience, and I'm so grateful for the cider makers who trusted me and shared about how their businesses have been impacted.
Click here to see the full project.
If you would like to try orchard-based ciders (they are incredible, delicious, and not at all what you might expect) please support these cidermakers, who were a part of the project.
I want to extend a special thank you to Glywood Center and the New York Cider Association for their support and help connecting with cidermakers in New York.
And finally, thank you to the following cideries for allowing me to photograph them and trusting me to share their stories. For more information, visit their websites, below: