| May 14, 2020
We had the opportunity to interview our #HiredHandCustomer Lindsey Monk of Big Sky Livestock and ask her some questions about her tips and tricks when it comes to photographing Horses and Longhorns. Her Montana views may give her a gorgeous background to work with, but getting the shots she does takes learned skills. Read below to learn how she started and how she prepares differently for social media photos versus website and marketing photos.
Do you have any general tips and tricks for photographing Horses and Longhorns?
"A few of the tips and tricks for photographing animals that I've found to be helpful include taking someone with you. Sometimes another person isn't always available but can be a big help in getting an animal's attention. This could include waving a hat, making funny noises, shaking a bucket and doing strange poses to get ears forward and head turned your direction. In the event that you're going solo, maybe hang onto a mineral or cake sack that can be used to help get attention spans off grazing and looking your way whether it's equine or bovine attention you're trying to draw. If the cattle don't have really young calves, having a canine companion along can be useful as well."
What kind of camera do you use? What kind did you start with?
"I started out with cheap disposal film (gasp, what is that?!) cameras as a kid my mom would send me with. I then graduated to a small digital $100 Cannon from Wal*Mart that took decent pictures at a close range. Today I use a Nikon D5200 with a 55-200mm lens for long-range or the smaller lens for closer pictures."
Do you do any editing to your photos before posting them online?
"I have Photoshop on my computer, but if you take a nice picture most the time the general editing program cleans up the picture nicely if there are any exposure issues. If you have a good picture, a little editing is required. If I'm posting online or on our webpage, I do like to add a little color or play with the shadows and brightness. It will really make your picture 'pop'."
Do you have tips on the best photo angles for animals, the best time of day to shoot, best locations, etc. ?
"I kneel on my knee most of the time to get an accurate picture of the animal that shows the proper conformation. As far as color, if you take pictures in the mornings or evenings that's when the light is best. If you take pictures at noon you will have to do some editing with exposure. Mornings and evenings work the best for your animals I've found because that's when it's cool and they are most comfortable. If I can catch the herd, whether horses or cattle, on hilltops or open spaces you can get a nice background that's not too busy. Depending on where your sun is it can make for some really neat silhouette shots as well. If you have ponds or reservoirs and you can get the reflection of the animals in the water that can make for some pretty pictures too."
What do you focus on when taking pictures for social media vs. taking pictures to sell an animal or for your website?
"Even when I'm taking 'serious' pictures for a sale or our webpage, you're bound to get a few bloopers. Those are fun pictures that I will share on our Facebook page sometimes. I reserve the sale pictures or photos that show the animals the best for our webpage. A picture is worth a thousand words and if an interested buyer is only going to see one picture I want it to make a statement. I look for the things I look at when considering purchasing an animal. Conformation, color, horn set, and if it's a cow I like to get a picture that shows her udder. For horses, I want to see their legs, feet, and withers along with overall conformation and color. Generally speaking, if you can get them to stand broadside and looking at you with both ears forward and the back leg closest to you stretched back a little bit, that's ideal. However, you are working with animals and sometimes they're more interested in checking for treats than cooperating for pictures. I go out into a pasture 3-4 times to get ideal pictures of everyone because they're not all going to cooperate at once."
Find out more about Big Sky Livestock and see more of Lindsey's photography on her website www.BigSkyLivestock.com.
Do you have any tips for photographing your animals? Tell us below in the comments!