Terra Fondriest is a documentary photographer living in the Ozarks of Arkansas with her husband, 2 children, 3 dogs, cat and 25+/- chickens. After halting her former work life as a US Forest Service hotshot firefighter, wilderness wrangler for a Montana outfitter, and BIO tech for the National Park Service, she began her journey as a mother in 2011 at the age of 27. Terra had always had an interest in photography, but having her first child brought that hobby to the next level. She started documenting her growing family at their remote home in the hills and her passion for visual storytelling was ignited.
While Terra has a background in Natural Resources, with a B.S. in Fish and Wildlife Conservation from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, her education in documentary photography largely began by being an active participant in the National Geographic Your Shot community. Between that and other self-study methods, she’s constantly pushed herself to tell better stories. When it was time to move beyond learning at home, she applied to the prestigious 69th Missouri Photo Workshop that was held in Eldon, MO in 2017. Participating in that workshop gave her the confidence to move beyond photographing her family and start telling the stories within her community. This was the beginning of her Ozark Life project where she is photographing the everyday lives of not only her family, but her friends and neighbors. The more people she meets, talks to, and photographs, the more Terra realizes that she is just at the tip of the iceberg with this project.
She's also gone on locally to be a photography speaker and educator for Buffalo National River and other Ozarks groups. Terra's work has been featured frequently with the National Geographic Your Shot community and she is a member of the highly esteemed 'Women Photograph', where she is currently participating in a yearlong (2018-2019) mentorship. She is a frequent contributor and part-time curator for the EverydayRuralAmerica project. Locally, she helps organize the NW Arkansas Senior Project (which provides local underprivileged high school seniors with free portraits) and photographs animals for the Ozark Humane Society. While Terra has taken on some small local assignments, mom and homesteading life takes most of her time, so her Ozark Life project is something she is able to realistically chip away at as the days with her little ones fly by.