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Photographing Livestock - Q & A's from a pro - by Catherina Cunnane

Catherina Cunnane catches up with Hollie Crawshaw to receive a number of tips on how to photograph livestock.


A The very simple answer to this is, anytime! Events happening in the early morning with the rising sun can be just as interesting as late-night shoots in the lambing shed, where the only available light is the glowing amber heat lamps. As well as varying light, the time of day can affect how shadows fall, so ensure your own shadow is not noticeable in your photographs. Overcast days are my favorite, as the sun is naturally diffused through the clouds. Very sunny days are a little more challenging and harsh light can cause glare. However, this doesn’t mean you should be afraid to shoot under strong light. Some of my most creative shots contain glare on the lens and I also like to use the strong angling light to naturally highlight and exaggerate parts of a scene.


A A photograph’s success should not be determined by how good your camera is. If you want to take photos of your cattle and you only have your smartphone, then that should be fine. Anything that has the capability of capturing an image, will be okay and I have numerous images on my website which were shot on my iPhone. Without getting too technical, I regularly shoot on a full-frame DSLR but most new digital cameras are of a decent quality. As a hobby, I like to shoot on 35mm film using a passed down film camera. As most farmers will know, technology is progressing all the time and photography is always advancing too. I find that it is sometimes nice to experiment with the old camera kits generations before us used. As a young photographer, who mainly works digitally with duplicate files, processing film is very different and I usually only have one copy of each photo on physical paper. Second-hand film cameras can be purchased online and pop up in charity shops for a very small cost. If using a manual camera is a little daunting, why not experiment with taking some images on a cheap throwaway camera?


A Composition is one of the main aspects of taking a photograph. Where you stand, the angle of the camera, and the background of the image should all be considered. If you want to take a shot of your pedigree bull, for example, the angle of the shot will greatly affect how your livestock will appear on camera. Take the photo from a low angle, on the same level as your animal. Fill most of the frame with the bull and ensure it is looking forward, with its head up and ears forward. Pay close attention to the background of the photograph and ensure nothing is too distracting. Make sure nobody is standing in the shot or there is nothing too brightly colored to interfere with what you are capturing. Photographing subjects slightly off-center can also contribute to a more successful image. The benefit of digital shooting is that you can take multiple versions of a shot, without having to worry about using up expensive film. Experiment with a few angles, positions, and viewpoints and pick which photo you prefer afterward.


A If you look at my website ( you will see I take photographs of a wide variety of agricultural topics. Included in this, I will shoot landscapes, portraits, close-ups of still life objects, and of course, livestock. Most of my work is typically described as documentary photography, telling a visual record of a farming story. Whatever it is you choose to photograph, it’s important that it interests you and tells the audience something about the subject.


A Like modern agriculture, there is a huge online community of photographers who share their work on social media. In particular, Instagram allows you to capture images on your phone and apply some post-production effects, before sharing them with the world! I follow many farmers on Instagram who upload some great images of their working day, cattle, and farming landscapes. Not only is it a good platform for professionals, but it is also great for beginners who want to start shooting farming photography easily, cheaply, and creatively!

“I shoot what I love. I want my work to reflect my passion and show non-farming people the agricultural industry through photography”. Hollie Crawshaw


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