The eccentric photographer known as Disfarmer (1884-1959) seemed to be a man determined to shroud himself in mystery. Firstly, he was born Mike Meyers, the sixth of seven children in a German immigrant family. Disfarmer rejected the Arkansas farming world and the family in which he was raised. He even claimed at one point in his life that a tornado had lifted him up from places unknown and deposited him into the Meyers family.
In time Mike expressed his discontent with his family and farming by changing his name to Mike Disfarmer. In modern German “meier” means dairy farmer. Therefore, since he thought of himself as neither a “Meyer” nor a “farmer,” Mike Meyer became “dis”- farmer. Perhaps, it was his desire to break free of his Arkansas roots that led him to photography. He taught himself how to shoot and develop photographs, and he soon set up a studio on the back porch of his mother’s house in Heber Springs, Arkansas.
Disfarmer’s reclusive personality and his belief in his own unique superiority as a photographer. As well as a human being made him somewhat of an oddity to others. Having your picture taken at Disfarmer’s studio became one of the main attractions of a trip into town.