University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources graduate Tyler Mudd sees farming through a different lens. He photographs everyday farm events with a keen eye for detail and lighting.
Mudd wasn’t always able to see the beauty of the land tilled by four generations of Mudd farmers in Monroe County.
He spent his freshman year of high school thinking that he would go blind.
Mudd developed Acanthamoeba keratitis in his eyes during his freshman year of high school. The rare, vision-threatening, parasitic infection causes light sensitivity, blurred vision and a feeling that something is in your eye. It is most common in contact lens wearers.
Despite dim prognosis from eye doctors, Mudd and his parents would not give up. They sought advice and hope from doctors until one had heard of treatment for the rare disease. Doctors implanted corneas from organ donors into Mudd’s eyes so he could see. He likely will need additional surgeries and daily steroid drops for life.
Mudd celebrates the gift of sight daily.
“I don’t take it for granted,” he said. “I lost it and got it back.”
Mudd went on to earn a degree in agricultural systems management in 2013 from CAFNR. He married his high school sweetheart in August 2013. They returned to their hometown and the Mudd family farm.
Mudd takes new ideas from MU and blends them with methods from his father. He is glad that both generations are open to trying the other’s.
The father-son team also agrees on controlled growth of their farming operation. They do not have to work on Sundays or late at night. They shut down the tractors and leave the fields to enjoy time with family and friends.
Mudd said he feels lucky that his parents for giving him the chance to return to the farm. Land and equipment prices prevent many young farmers from returning to the farm.
“I’m grateful to both of my parents for the opportunity to return to the farm,” he said. “Coming back meant that my dad couldn’t slow down. Obviously that affected both him and my mother. I don’t know what their version of ‘retirement’ would look like, but it wasn’t this.”
The Mudds practice stewardship such as limited tillage. They also invest in technology such as drones, precision planting and nutrient management. Mudd uses drones to take pictures for farm and fun. He started photography in 2014 when he began experimenting with Instagram to edit photos.
The camera on his new drone takes 12 megapixel pictures. It captures photos of areas where trucks compacted ground and where nutrients are needed. It also gives bird’s eye views of grain augered into a grain truck at day’s end.
He uses his cell phone to photograph everyday farm chores and events. When Mudd sees something interesting and the lighting is right, he stops, grabs a shot and uploads it to social media.
“Life inspires me,” he said. “So I’ll hop on the auger wagon to toss corn up in the sky 50 times until I get the picture I want. I’ll stop the combine just before dusk and walk 60 feet into standing beans to frame that machine against a breathtaking sunset. I do it because I haven’t always been able to do it. I do it because I may not always be able to do it.”
Mudd says he likes sharing his photos to remind others to slow down and enjoy the beauty around them. He also takes photos for himself to honor the people who donated corneas so that he might see the beauty of life.
“I appreciate the details – the little things,” he sid. “I know what it’s like to have those things taken from you. Thankfully, I also know what it’s like to get them back.”
Giving the gift of life and sight to others
Donations of corneas make it possible for Mudd to farm and photograph. He encourages others to consider making donations of organs and tissues.
Sign the back of your driver’s license with a permanent black felt pen. Tell family and friends, physician and faith leader about your choices.
You may also visit organdonor.gov to learn about donating vital organs and tissues for transplants.