Photographers descend on Shelburne Farms to focus their “Lenses on the Land”

A photographer gets ready for the sunrise on Saturday.
Lenses on the Land leader Sebastian Ventrone (below) is never shy about getting right out in the field with his subjects. And they aren’t shy about trying to get his attention.

Photos and Story by Stephen Mease

Three times a year, 20 or so photographers drive through the gates of Shelburne Farm in the dark and head up to the Farm Barn parking lot. They pull out tripods and overstuffed camera bags and trudge up the hill to find that perfect spot to capture the sun rising over the castle-like landmark building with Camel’s Hump and Mt. Mansfield as distance backdrops.

The early morning start kicks off a full day of the popular education program called “Lenses on the Land,” which offers an all-access pass to photographers to tour the public and many of the private areas of the 1,400 acres historic farm, inn, barns and education center.

The program is led by Marshall Webb who grew up on the farm and whose family helped save Shelburne Farms in 1972 by conserving the land and becoming a non-profit education and agricultural organization. Webb, a long-time photographer who has documented his family’s land for many years, is assisted by Sebastian Ventrone, who has been photographing the world for more than 40 years.

Ventrone provides mini-photo lessons, both out in the field and when the participants head over to the Inn at Shelburne Farms for a hearty breakfast and lunch designed to keep them fueled for a day of composing and snapping images.

Shelburne Farms offers Lenses on the Land three times a year, once in the spring just before the Inn opens and the early wildflowers are blooming; once is the fall as the autumn foliage comes into its color; and a winter’s evening to photograph skyscapes, sleigh rides and the snowy landscape. Photographers then gather a couple weeks after the workshop to share their favorite images and compare techniques and technical notes. Registration for the next workshops will be announced on the Shelburne Farms online calendar of events.

The annual program culminates with a juried selection of the exhibit photos displayed in the Coach Barn in conjunction with the Burlington Center for the Arts “Of Land and Lake” exhibit. This year’s exhibit runs through Sunday, Oct. 29 and is free for Shelburne residents. Details at

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