Duncan Ferguson

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Intimate Photos from Inside the Weird World of Tree Planting

Planters from across the country come to western Canada to endure occasionally hard work, hellish conditions, and intense camaraderie.


Article originally published in VICE, see here: https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/ezx3zn/intimate-photos-from-inside-the-weird-world-of-tree-planting

Duncan Ferguson is a Canadian artist and tree planter. This is a sample of his three-year photo project, Shitheads, documenting planters all over western Canada and their love-hate relationship with the job.

People come from across the country for this, leaving their comfy beds to live in a tent in bush camps for months at a time. During the planting season, they get blasted by chopper dust, stuck waist deep in mud, snowed in, soaked in rain, eaten alive by bugs, and whatever other masochistic bullshit the job has to offer. According to Ferguson, "One time we accidentally disturbed a wolf den full of cubs, got surrounded by the rest of the pack howling at us and hiding in the trees. We had to call the chopper in to get us the hell out of there."

When the season is over it's normal for people to burn their stuff and swear they'll never plant trees again, but chances are they'll be back next year to drag themselves through hell for a good time and a paycheque.