“Gena and her family welcomed me onto their farm with open arms. I felt relaxed and right at home on the farm. I not only found my favorite place to take those kindred moments, but I also made a couple friends along the way,” Pastors said.
Jumping on the shutterbug band wagon was Nashville fashion and music photographer Mary Elizabeth Long of Mary Elizabeth Long Photography.
She recalled, “A friend of mine and I were scouting a location and we went out there and found so many awesome little areas on the property, but when I saw the whole farm, I fell in love with it.“
One thing it provides for me is beautiful natural light. We were there in the afternoon, and there are so many different areas close by that you can shoot for different looks at the same location,” Long said.
The farm has been in Gena’s family since the 1840s, and her mother grew up here. The acreage originally was obtained by John Donelson in a 1797 land grant. The house was erected around a log structure that went up in the early 1800s. Gena’s great-greatgrandfather Edmund Conn Burton bought the property in 1842, and Gena is the fifth generation of her family to make this the place where she hangs her hat.
“My grandfather died in 1947, and my grandmother lived here in and out for a long time,” she said. “The house sat empty for a while and was rented. In 1975, my parents, Paul and Lora Haney, decided to remodel and moved back here.
“My parents kept the heritage alive, and the family history was very important to them. My father took great pride in fixing up the house. This is all due to them,” said Gena, who moved into the house with husband David in 2005.
“I always called it ‘the house that Jack built’ as each generation added a part to it. My husband had done a lot to preserve the farm.”
Gena was born in Lebanon, majored in education at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and taught kindergarten for 32 year at Gladeville and Rutland Elementary schools. She and David have two sons, Joshua and Andrew.
Yvonne was born in Nashville and moved to Mt. Juliet in 1971. An education major at Middle Tennessee State University, she taught at Gladeville, Southside, Mt. Juliet Elementary, W.A. Wright Elementary and served as principal at Rutland Elementary. She and husband Rickey have a daughter, Whitney.
Gena and Yvonne retired last year, although Yvonne continues to work part time in curriculum. Jessica, who married Gena’s son Josh in a wedding here on the farm in 2009, graduated from Wilson Central High and earned a degree in mass communications at MTSU and worked four years as video team production coordinator for financial guru Dave Ramsey’s Lampo Group.
As for the breakdown of duties, Jessica said, “I’m in and out, the jack of all trades. I’m the techie. I take the photos for new props and post them on Facebook. I created our Facebook website and create print ads.”
Yvonne handles the scheduling by phone or the website. “We both do the props,” Gena said.
“They’re both pickers,” Jessica explained of their pursuit of items from the past.
“We’re in the process of getting a ’47 Chevy truck,” Gena shared, excited about the new heavy-metal prop that will be parked on the farm.
Gena Sloan said the best part of opening the farm to portrait photographers is “making it a place where families can have a good time and make memories. Children can enjoy the outdoors and the props, run in the grass or ride in a little red wagon to each photo location and maybe see a few calves and miniature donkeys on the farm. We’re happy to share a place that’s been ‘the home place’ to many generations.”
Ideally, those sentiments also will translate into pictures to fill family photograph albums that will be passed on to the next generation as well as fill memory banks with moments that will endure for a lifetime.