Terra is a freelance documentary photographer, bringing the unique perspective of someone who lives and raises a family in rural America, specifically the Ozarks region of Arkansas.


      For the past ten years, Terra Fondriest has found herself on the journey of navigating motherhood. In 2011, with the birth of her first child, she transitioned from her former adventurous career of traveling the country as a wildland firefighter ‘hotshot’, wrangling horses for an outfitter in Montana’s Bob Marshall, and mapping the trails and features of Buffalo National River for the US Park Service, into a mostly stay-at-home mom at her hilltop house nestled in the woods of the Arkansas Ozarks. It turns out, those prior jobs were no match for the adventure of becoming a mother.

      In between changing diapers, growing a garden, wrangling chickens, cutting wood, and exploring the hills and hollers with children in tow, Terra decided to focus more on learning about photography, not only to document her first child and growing family, but also to help understand it. This new creative outlet ignited her passion for visual storytelling which has grown over time into a long-term personal project called ‘Ozark Life’ where she not only documents her family, but the everyday lives of others within her small community as part of a collective patchwork of present day life in the Ozarks. ‘Ozark Life’ has been a way to share with others, the rhythm of life that is so deeply tied to the land and explore the nuances that make living in the Ozarks so unique, yet similar to the human story shared by all.

      Back in 2004, Terra received her BS degree in Natural Resources from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and in 2011 a postbaccalaureate degree in GIS mapping from Penn State while working for Buffalo River. Her photography education has evolved from mostly self-taught while being an active participant in the National Geographic Your Shot community, to the Missouri Photo Workshop experience in 2017, a 2018-2019 Women Photograph Mentorship, and continues presently with other mentor and workshop situations and always self-study. She became a member of the highly esteemed Women Photograph in 2018.  And has gone on to be the creator and instructor for Buffalo River’s popular ‘photography workshops’, along with being their event photographer and a frequent contributor to both the Everyday Rural America project and National Geographic Your Shot story.

      As of 2019, Terra began doing freelance work with clients such as The New York Times, The Nature Conservancy, The Washington Post, Vogue, National Audubon Society, The Bitter Southerner, Bloomberg, Medium and more. 

Terra is available for assignments in the Ozarks region

Home is St. Joe, Arkansas, nestled in the hills of Buffalo River country

Contact: [email protected]

(portrait photo by Terra's 10 year old daughter)

Articles featuring Terra's Ozark Life project
Arkansas Life Magazine feature story
Recent Freelance/Published Work:
Collections - Awards
National Geographic Award - Eddie Adams XXXIV Workshop Story.  2021.
National Geographic Your Shot.  55 Published images. 2013-2019.
2019, 2020, 2021 Arkansas Small Works on Paper exhibit participant.  Arkansas Arts Council. 2020 purchase award.
June 2017.  The Boone County Library mezzanine gallery.  An Ozark Childhood: Photographs by Terra Fondriest.
2020  Dallas Center for Photography speaker
2017-Present.  Instructor for Buffalo National River Photo Workshops.  National Park Service.
April 2019.  Keynote speaker for Arkansas Women's Photography annual conference.
2021.  Editing the Visual Story workshop with Sarah Leen and Bill Marr.  Participant.
2017.  Missouri Photo Workshop 69-Eldon.  Participant.
2012.  George Melendez Wright Climate Change Intern at Buffalo National River.
2011-2012.  Penn State World Campus.  Postbaccalaureate Certificate in Geographical Information Systems.
2001-2004.  University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.  BS in Fish and Wildlife Conservation, minor in Animal Science.
Women Photograph.  Since 2018
Photography Club of the Ozarks.  Since 2016.