Since the early 1970s, Debbie Fleming Caffrey has photographed workers from the sugarcane fields and sugar mills in rural Louisiana, where she was born. Her sensitive use of light, shadow, texture, and composition shapes romantic portraits of field workers, men, women, children, and the elderly. Images such as Burning Pine Needles, with its ghostly worker representing both activity and absence, are documents that belong to the realm of photographic abstraction as much as to the tradition of photographic reportage.
Debbie Fleming Caffrey received her BFA in photography from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1975, and since then has received numerous fellowships and awards. Caffrey’s work has been exhibited in one-person and group shows worldwide, and is included in the collections of the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris; International Museum of Photography, George Eastman House, Rochester, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. In 1990 a monograph of her work entitled Carry Me Home: Photographs by Debbie Fleming Caffrey was published by Smithsonian Press.