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14th Annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest Sustainable Travel
Egrets photo bombing a group of banana pickers.

I am a farmer in New York, and often travel to exchange ideas and learn about different agricultural techniques worldwide. I am drawn to agriculture by virtue of it's place as an intersection between human rights and environmental protection - and elements of this intersection are what i seek out while traveling. I think listening to farmers and agricultural workers has a special place within the context of "sustainable travel" because sharing ideas and connecting with people who grow the food that feeds society has lasting positive repercussions -- what is shared and learnt literally bears fruit. While riding through farmland near Dambulla, Sri Lanka, I stopped to greet banana pickers working in a grove. We were chatting about what it means to be a female agricultural worker -- much of the harvest work on farms in Sri Lanka (such as these banana pickers, and tea pluckers) is performed by women. They are also often guaranteed fewer rights and lower wages. After several women gave me gifts of bananas to carry home, they asked for a picture and grouped together in the road. I framed the shot, wholly focused on the dynamics and interaction of the group, and only later noticed the egrets perfectly suspended in flight above them.

Photo Detail
Date Taken: 03.2016
Date Uploaded: 11.2016
Photo Location: Dambulla, Sri Lanka
Copyright: © capers rumph