Portfolio: Lucas Foglia

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What would living life "off the grid" – with no electricity or running water – be like? One man who can offer an insight is the American photographer Lucas Foglia. It was growing up on a small family farm in New York state that Foglia got his first taste of the back-to-land movement: his family heated their house with wood, farmed and canned their own food and used the plants they grew to barter for everything from shoes to dental work.

"But while my family followed many of the [back-to-land] principles, by the time I was 18 we also owned three tractors, four cars and five computers, and this mixture of modern and rustic living made me curious to see what a completely self-sufficient way of living might look like," says Foglia.

So, from 2006 through to 2010, Foglia travelled throughout the south-eastern United States, interviewing and photographing a network of people who had left the cities and suburbs to live rurally, relying on his family and friends' connections to make contact with these hardcore pro-isolationists.

The resulting series, "A Natural Order", is a startlingly primitive series of images that make us question the value of our own gilded lives. These wild-living communities build their homes from local materials, obtain their water from nearby springs, and hunt, gather or grow their own food.

It's a hard life, for sure – so why do they do it? "Most people here were in search of a less chaotic life, freed from the excesses of consumer culture," says Foglia. "I hope these images start a conversation. I don't expect people to radically change their lives, but they can take some steps – such as learning more about gardening – to become a little more self-sufficient."

Lucas Foglia's 'A Natural Order' is published by Nazraeli Press, priced £40 (nazraeli.com)