It's never easy. In fact, many times, the hardest part is getting started. But for me, I didn't even know what was happening until it was over.
Today someone asked, "How did you get started taking creative photos?
Many people know, before we began Herdmark's work of creating content for agricultural brands and businesses, I worked full time as a professional photographer of bovine beauties. That's right, I was a cow photographer, and I loved it. I like working outside, I love animals and I have a fondness for the Western United States that can only be described as complete infatuation. But it was almost an accident that I become infatuated with the art of photography at all.
Looking back, I can say it took root on a hot August day. While taking photos for Pegwood Farms in Ohio, the owner, Peggy Swartz, who loved her cows dearly, asked if I could get a group photo of all her animals together. I was happy to oblige.
We rounded up her little herd and pushed them underneath a beautiful Sycamore tree, her brick home placed neatly in the background, then we rolled on the ground and ran around and laughed and cackled at those cows until every single one of them was looking. The result was my first photograph in which the main subject wasn't the side profile of an individual cow.
Some time later, I was asked to tour a ranch in Oklahoma and capture scenic shots of the cows to be used in advertising for an upcoming event. I was already in love with Oklahoma, so this was a pretty fantastic assignment, to say the least. When the cattlemen who hosted me realized I wouldn't be deterred from my task very easily, they gave me a four-wheeler and sent me riding off into the sunset. That sunset changed my life.
That evening, with my entry level camera and my kit lens, I uncovered something I didn't even know was inside of me. A real photograph. It was the best I'd ever taken. To this day it hangs in our bedroom as a monument to the occasion. I dubbed the image Cowboy's Dream, and perhaps I could dream to become a much better photographer.
Cowboy's Dream - The sunset that changed the direction of my career as a photographer.
I was so captivated by the fact that I had created this image, I wanted only to create more. I wanted to learn more. For the first time, I desired to prioritize my knowledge of photography over my knowledge of cows. After each shoot day concluded, I would head out to the pasture to see what I could find. I took pictures of gates, fences, sunsets, barns, mailboxes, lonely country roads and hard-working farm dogs.
I began to take photos of the people I worked with each day, as they chased cows and, occasionally, as they were chased by cows. When I shared these images with my cattle clients, they loved them. They began to rely on me to take artistic images to improve their sale catalogs, websites and marketing.
I still dream of becoming a much better photographer, and because of how I got here, I still know how to get started. You just get started. Pick up the camera. Make something. Learn something.
Good luck and happy shooting!
Club Calf Heaven - Taken after a long day of photographing bred females for a Nebraska family.
A lonely windmill along the road to a client's ranch in Nebraska.