Focus on farms

29th October 2013

This blog was first published on the Freedom Food website here.

I have a fantastic job as a freelance photographer. Visiting a range of Freedom Food certified farms has been a highlight for me over the past few years. I am commissioned to take pictures of the farmers and their livestock and to show what these places are really like.

It’s great fun stepping into a pen with a dozen boisterous calves, nudging and smudging my cameras with their inquisitive tongues. Whilst focussing on farmer Ben Bayer of Brookfield Farm and Freedom Food Assessor Sarah Cutler, I get nudged from behind and end up on my knees. Fortunately, there is plenty of fresh dry straw for a soft landing. No harm done and I’ve got the shot!

Photography involving animals requires good preparation. I make sure that I know what I need for the job. Right clothing and footwear. Make sure I know about safety, both for me and for the animals concerned so neither of us gets hurt or stressed. Then I check that I have the right lenses on the cameras and the camera setting set correctly to take the first shot. Timing is crucial as animals move very quickly and without warning — so my eyes are open and scanning the scene with my finger ready on the shutter. There is also a fair bit of luck required!

Of course it helps having equipment to stand up to the job and doesn’t stop functioning when it gets covered in various forms of organic matter. Come to think of it, I do spend a lot of time washing down my gear after each shoot…

Surprisingly, there was not a lot of luck required at the turkey farm of Traditional Norfolk Poultry. I never knew that turkeys liked climbing trees. How about that for a shot! They needed no encouragement to act in front of the camera. These birds where happy, healthy and very vocal, following me around their woodland habitat with their synchronised clucking. Using a longer lens really worked well to get the nice close-up of their unique heads.

As a conscientious consumer and someone who is passionate about farming, it is hugely rewarding to see with my own eyes the benefits of my client’s work. Particularly inspiring is the passion the farmers have for their animals and how much good husbandry and animal welfare  means to them. Perhaps the best picture I feel that sums this up is of Nick Bragg of Frogmary Green Farm holding one of his chickens.

I can’t wait for the next commission!

Further info and links:

Ben Bayer, Sarah Cutler (Freedom Food Assessor) with veal calves at Brookfield Farm. Freedom Food certified veal farm. Tarrant Keynstone. Dorset. United Kingdom.