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Welcome to Hackberry Farm Photo School


About Russell Graves

Raised in rural Texas, Russell is the product of a modest, blue-collar upbringing, a stalwart work ethic, and a family who put no bounds on his imagination and creativity. When Russell was a junior in high school, he wrote a research paper for his end-of-year English project. The research paper (which he still has today), titled simply Wildlife Photography, earned him an "A" for the project. Still, more importantly, the mini-tome served as a manifesto of sorts that would define his life's work.

When he was 19, he had his first photographs and article published in a magazine. When he was 20, he earned his first magazine cover. By his own admission, the work now appears marginal and sophomoric. It was the spark, however, that ignited the fire to keep him going and perfect his creative craft.​

After earning a degree in agriculture education from East Texas State University (now Texas A&M-Commerce), Russell went out to the sparsely populated Texas Panhandle, where he was hired to teach agriculture science for the Childress Independent School District. Upon earning his degree, Russell describes the experience as surreal. He's the first in his family to earn a college degree. Upon the conference of his baccalaureate honors, he witnessed his father cry for the first time in his life. It's a moment of pride that has stuck with Russell and driven him to be the best he can be at whatever he chooses to do. As a result, in his 16-year teaching career, he was named Texas Agriscience Teacher of the Year on three occasions, a finalist for National Agriscience Teacher of the Year twice, and won just about every major award conferred on those in his former profession. He also built a solid reputation as a top Texas photographer and writer during that time. 

Upon leaving teaching in 2009, Russell continued his life's work by capturing the people and places outside of city limits in innovative and authentic ways. In the ensuing years, he continued to build on his experience and churn out content for clients through magazine pieces, advertising campaigns, television projects, and numerous books. In addition, he also worked with a small West Texas town to help them develop a marketing strategy and put together development deals that would bring jobs and prosperity to that little corner of rural Texas. 

In 2018, Russell started leading photographic workshops and sharing his knowledge and love of the outdoors and photography. Since then, Russell has led nearly 500 guests on adventures worldwide. 

Russell says he feels like he's come full circle by combining his love of photography with his teaching ability.

In the media, Russell's been called a rural renaissance man, recognized as one of the top photographers in Texas, and praised by editors, art directors, and audiences alike for his ability to connect people and places through his written, spoken, and photographic stories. He's had nearly a million words published, authored six books, has had thousands of images grace the pages of magazines and advertisements all over the world (including hundreds of magazine covers), is an in-demand speaker, has photographed some of the most prominent people in our country, and is the owner of two businesses. Still, he insists that his most significant accomplishments fall under the heading of father, husband, brother, son, and friend. 

When he's not in the field teaching or doing projects for one of his clients, Russell is found on his beloved Hackberry Farm driving his tractor and doing tasks that benefit the land and her denizens therein. He now lives a mile from the small stock farm on which he was raised. Black dirt and creek water is a powerful poultice. 

His parents are still proud of him.

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