Jim Norton: Chronicles of Pearl Morissette’s Farm

Nestled within the sprawling 42 acres of Pearl Morissette’s farm lies a world teeming with tales of nature, whispers of the seasons, and the antics of mischievous ducks. Here, amidst the serenity of orchards, the flourish of regenerative gardens, and the enigmatic allure of the winery, Jim Norton, a distinguished photographer, discovers stories waiting to be told. His lens captures moments of transient beauty, from gardens in the night to the unexpected pause of the Muscovy ducks by a reflective pond. Journey with us as Jim unveils the symphony of life, decay, and splendor of his award-winning work in “Muscovy Ducks of R*PM” and “Garden Darkness.”

By: Jim Norton

Muscovy Ducks of R*PM 

Every image has a story or a story that needs to be told. As a visual artist, I’ve always wanted to show that story through my images. And give people a glimpse of something that may be right in front of them. Whether it’s an illustration or photograph, there is always something that influences the image-making or the story surrounding it.

The Approach & the Image

Since the summer of 2021, I have been working on a long-term project at Pearl Morissette Winery. I was focused primarily on the regenerative farm but always experienced a crossover with the winery & restaurant, which has expanded the project scope over time.

For those who have had the opportunity to visit, the ducks on the property are infamous in their own mischievous way. They might be farm ducks, but they roam as they like and don’t stop for photos.

Arriving at the farm always presented the unexpected. Weather could be unpredictable, and depending on the season, there was always something new happening or to be discovered.

In the back of my mind, I always had the goal of trying to get a ‘portrait’ of one of the Muscovy Ducks at the property. And as luck would have one morning, these two guys paused long enough by the pond for me to capture their presence and stature. It happened very quickly and unpredictably, but I caught the moment before they realized I was there. I had the one image… the ones preceding and after just didn’t have that feeling. I always wanted to create this image using a focal length that suited portraits. A longer focal length would not have given this image the same depth and feeling needed.

Ultimately, it reminds me of a dramatic diorama one might find in a natural history museum, but in reality, it’s the ducks in their element at the farm. Which is why I love it so much. As the photographer, this was a true combination of the original idea surrounding the farm and bringing it to life in front of the camera. Not only was this creative but also surprisingly technical, requiring specific elements to work together to succeed.

The Result

An unposed, natural light example of the Muscovy ducks of Pearl Morissette, majestic in the world I genuinely believe they presided over.

Transcending from ducks to the flora, Jim’s journey at Pearl Morissette’s farm unveils yet another captivating narrative. Amidst the sprawling 42 acres, the farm tells tales of the ebbs and flows of nature.

Garden Darkness

The Approach & the Images

Since the summer of 2021, I have been working on a long-term project at Pearl Morissette’s farm. Even though the project has included a crossover with the winery & restaurant, the regenerative farm has always been the primary focus. With 42 acres to wander on, the regenerative farm, vegetable & flower gardens, and perennial & herb plots give me plenty of visuals to consider. Add in a peach orchard, and you start to imagine the beauty of it all. Many people, myself included, generally only appreciate gardens at the height of their beauty. But as I spent time on the property and watched it as the seasons changed, I started to see a little beyond the idealistic beauty.

Conversations with the farmers, Shane, Deirdre, Monica & Emily, opened my eyes to the beauty of the shoulder seasons. The time when plants sleep & store their energy for the next season to show their beauty again. And there is great beauty in the different stages of growth and deterioration.

The idea for the images took time; it evolved as I spent time on the property & wandered the gardens. Inspiration can come when you least expect it, but usually, that’s when you need it most. The world was emerging from a time of lockdowns and isolation, and this felt connected to the seasons and changes in the garden.

In that moment of inspiration, I decided to isolate the plants & flowers from their natural environment. But I also wanted to keep them as they were—un-styled, wild, and, at times, decaying. The dark background allowed for the dramatic impact I was looking to create, utilizing the natural sunlight to illuminate their beauty.

This ongoing series is a true combination of the original idea that tells the story of the farm and farmers and then brings it to life in front of the camera. Ultimately, the goal is to print this series in large format to really share this garden darkness.

The Result

A series of exquisite images that evoke the beauty of what surrounds us throughout the seasons.

Client: Garden & Restaurant at Pearl Morissette

Photographer: Jim Norton

Assistant: Simon Baker

Retouching: Evonne Bellefleur

Producer: Tonya Norton

Artist Agency: Fuze Reps

As a Toronto-based photographer, Jim Norton has provided award-winning visuals for many well-known brands and agencies. He specializes in food, food packaging, still life, and product photography. His work gives him the opportunity to collaborate with talented art directors, designers, and creatives from across the industry. A sense of adventure has allowed for the further exploration of creative projects that have resulted in repeated awards with Graphis, Applied Arts, and Communication Arts. When not behind the camera, Jim can be found in the kitchen, riding his motorcycle, or enjoying life outdoors with his family.

Social: Instagram, LinkedIn

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Author: Graphis