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Would you buy genetics from this heifer?


I would NOT!  However, it has nothing to do with her pedigree, because I don’t even know her pedigree.  The reason I would not buy genetics from this heifer is simply because I cannot trust that what I see in the picture is what I will actually get. You see this heifer, who looks for the most part to be a pretty decent heifer, actually has some major flaws that the current ethical standards of many photographers are more than willing to cover up.  The most major flaw that is blatant to the eye, when actually beside this heifer, is how weak loined she is.


Think about it. When was the last time you saw a dairy cow picture where the animal had a weak loin?  It doesn’t happen anymore.  In talking with a few photographers, they all say A) Is it really that bad? and B) ‘If I don’t do it`, breeders will not call me to take their pictures anymore.”  The answer to both these questions is “Do You Really Think I am That Stupid?”

“Is it really that bad?”

First, compare the two pictures below.  They are identical shots.  The only thing changed in the bottom picture is that she has had about 6 inches of hair added to the middle of her topline.  This is something that the show ring does not even find acceptable anymore.  Yes. I know you are going to say that this heifer is an extreme case. But also think about all the heifer pictures you see these days.  When was that last time you saw one with a weak loined animal?  Has the breed advanced so far that there is no longer an issue with loin strength?  Should all sires be ranked 7+ for loin strength?  I don’t think so.  Another question I ask is when was the last time you saw a 6+ month old calf that stands uphill?  And yet, you do see that in all their pictures that are taken these days.



“If I don’t do it breeders will not call me to take their pictures anymore.”

So I think most of you can see that it is pretty obvious how blatant this issue is.  So then why do you continue to support those that are working very hard to deceive you?  Each time you hire a photographer that finds this practice acceptable, or buy semen from a stud that supports these photographers, you are in a sense saying, “I am okay with being lied to.”

You see if a bull stud told you the sire you are using is a +18 (CDN) or +4 (US) for type but then only supplied a bull that was a +2 would, you be pissed?  But that is what you are doing when you are supporting these photographers who have no regard for ethical standards (Read more: Introducing the Dairy Marketing Code of Conduct, Dairy Cattle Photography – Over Exposed, No Cow Is Perfect – Not Even In Pictures and Has Photo Enhancement Gone Too Far?).  Yes, of course, there are some that are trying their best in the current marketplace.  (Read more: Tarred With The Same Brush).  But, as a whole, the industry is turning a blind eye to this issue.  The funny thing is it is just like drugs in baseball (Read more: The Big Bad Wolf of the Dairy Industry, Does The Dairy Genetics Industry Have A Drug Problem? and Lance Armstrong, Drugs and the Dairy Industry), you can only turn a blind eye for so long before it comes back and gives the whole industry a black eye.

Stop the Laziness

While I was taking these pictures the other day, I discovered many new issues with current photography practices.  The biggest one is just plain old laziness.  They are too lazy to do it right.  “Photoshop saved careers.” they say.  I say “Photoshop has made you lazy.”  Now many photographers are not even bothering to take the effort to put up lights anymore.  That is photography 101. Always control the light.  Otherwise the quality of the image you get is crap. These are all little things that the human eye catches but you don’t see in most of the dairy cattle photography anymore.  That is because they are just too lazy to do it right.


It Is Possible To Do It Right

Now some would say, “Hey Andrew, if you think it is that easy, show me that you can do it?”  So I did. I went to the effort to take the picture of three nice heifers that were by no means big time show heifers.  They are just good quality heifers that needed a good quality picture.  (Please note – Although I have been on the team prepping hundreds of cattle for pictures, this is only the second time in my life of me actually taking the side shots.  The last time was over 10 years ago).

Fennema Steady Amber

Fennema Windbrook Abrielle

Fennema rose Royce Danish

The interesting part was that in doing these pictures I found that I actually had to take more hair off than I had to add.  I could have done it with the clippers before the photo-shoot, but chose not to as these are also 4-H calves and they have their achievement day in two weeks’ time.  The other part I noticed is, you don’t need to jack their front ends up 2 feet and wrench their necks like a chicken.  Simply put a small block under their front legs and away you go.  So you say, “It’s easier to do it the way they are currently doing it.”  I say it’s easier to put up a couple of lights and away you go.  You get a better quality picture that the viewers can appreciate and more importantly trust.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

What I am saying is not new.  We all have known it to be true for years.  The problem is, instead of taking action to make change, we are all comfortable to sit back and be lied to.  Well guess what?  I am tired of being lied to.  I am tired of being slapped in the face every time one of the photographers thinks they are pulling a “fast one” on everyone and being lazy to boot.  Instead of compromising your ethics, I say get off your “butt” and do it right.  Because “Do You Really Think That We Are All That Stupid?”

To read more about this check out The Dairy Marketing Code of Conduct

To get a copy of the Dairy Marketing Code of Conduct please click here.

If you believe that there is a need for a ethical standard in marketing dairy cattle genetics please like and share this post.

The art of dairy cattle photography has certainly changed over the past 15 years.  With the introduction of digital cameras and advancements in programs like Adobe Photoshop, there is no question the industry is forever changed.  The problem is, with all these changes, there has been no one to establish or regulate a code of ethics to ensure that the animal you see in pictures is the same animal you are investing in when you buy embryos, progeny or semen from them.

I cannot tell you the number of times breeders have told us that the cow they saw in the picture looked nothing like the animal in real life.  While this non-reality has become acceptable for super models, that should not be the case with dairy cattle photos.  In the fashion industry you are not buying the genetics the super model has to offer, but rather the clothing she is wearing.  That’s a key difference.  A difference that many need to remember when taking and editing dairy cattle photos.  (Read more: Dairy Cattle Marketing Ethics – Do they exist? And Business Ethics and Marketing Dairy Cattle Genetics) Sure we all want the animal to look her best but that means she still looks like herself and not some other animal all together.

The following are three techniques that many livestock photographers use that “most” would consider acceptable and yet they really do a great deal to make the animal look considerably different than her true genetic self.

Addition to Toplines

While photographers have been adding hair, foam, tape, etc. to cows’ toplines for years, programs like Photoshop make it much easier to do and even harder to detect.  (Read more: Has Photo Enhancement Gone Too Far)  The following is an example of just how much the typical picture has had added.  The light overlay (Fade) is the amount that was present in the final picture and the dark is the cow’s natural self.

topline hair add

Not a big deal some would say, but there is no question that this adds about 3-5 points on loin strength, 1-2 points on rump and drastically enhances general appearance.  It is being done so often these days that it actually catches your eye when it’s not done.  This is very much a FALSE representation of what an animal’s actually genetic potential is.

Over Exposure of Photos

To hide this type of work many photographers will over expose (brighten) the white sections of the photos or burn (darken) the black sections of an animal so the average eye cannot catch what has been done.  Here is an example of a cow that has had this one. The following is a picture comparing her topline as it appears in the final picture and  the same topline with the exposure corrected.

hair add lms

A very flat loined heifer that would have looked very common in her picture ended up looking much better.  In measuring the proportions of this animal we estimate that this animal has had 6-7 inches of “hair” added. The interesting point is that this animal is classified VG-85 and yet in her picture looks more like 88 or even 89 points.  A big difference especially in an animal that many breeders could potentially be purchasing genetics from and, more importantly, semen from her sons.

This not only makes a difference in their toplines, but also in the cleanliness of their legs and other parts.  By over or under exposing details as needed you can greatly hide their flaws.  Some photographers comment that since they didn’t “edit” the conformation of the cow, it’s acceptable.  By hiding the flaws with these techniques, they are greatly misrepresenting the animal’s natural appearance and genetic potential.


Have you ever noticed that the pictures you take with your own camera, even your phone camera, have more clarity than the ones that are taken by most professional photographers who have cameras and equipment costing thousands of dollars?  Why do you think that is?  Typically this is because of the Photoshop skills of the photographer.  To make all these “typical” edits and still maintain that level of clarity requires a great deal of skill.  Since most of the photographers are just that photographers and not graphic designers, that is an area that they have not mastered yet.  The easiest way to account for this is to reduce the clarity so that some parts of the picture are very clear and others are not.  Here is an example of the clarity of what a typical professional dairy cattle photographer’s picture should look like.  It is taken with the same level of equipment, and has only had slight color correction and no exposure adjustments to the animal.

Woodsview Excitation Tracy (udder ring)

How many professional photographers’ photos look this clear?  They should. They easily have the equipment to achieve this or even greater results.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

While there is no doubt programs like Photoshop make it so that anything is possible, should it not be the job of the photographer to make sure the image they produce is the best possible representation of that animal  and not just what they think will sell the most embryos or semen?

To read more about this check out The Dairy Marketing Code of Conduct

To get a copy of the Dairy Marketing Code of Conduct please click here.

If you believe that there is a need for a ethical standard in marketing dairy cattle genetics please like and share this post.

The call for ethics in dairy cattle marketing has never been louder. With the increased power of programs like Adobe Photoshop, the ability to edit and manipulate pictures and ads has never been easier. For this reason, the Bullvine in combination with other dairy cattle marketers is pleased to introduce The Dairy Marketing Code of Conduct.

What is the Code?

  • The Code sets out specific standards of conduct for participants in the dairy cattle marketing industry in relation to individuals, organizations and consumers and serves as a benchmark in the highest level of ethics showing to all breeders that they can buy with confidence that the images, ads, and promotional materials they are seeing are of the highest ethical standard.
  • The requirements of the Code are based on common sense and are matters of fairness and honesty. The Code not only promotes ethical behavior but also is intended to serve as a point of reference for Members to ensure they follow acceptable best practices and ethical guidelines.

The Objectives of the Code :

  • To ensure business and consumers have access to the product and service information they need to make informed accurate choices and decisions
  • To promote a culture among members of conducting their businesses fairly, honestly, ethically and in accordance with best practices; and
  • To increase business and breeder confidence in doing business with dairy cattle genetic companies and breeders.

Why Is The Code Necessary?

  • The world dairy genetics market is big business. No longer is it possible for breeders to personally see the animals they are looking to invest in. Because we now operate at a distance rather than face-to-face with fellow breeders, dairy genetics organizations and breeders must place greater emphasis on establishing breeder confidence and trust. This is especially true in dairy cattle livestock photos, where tools like Adobe Photoshop have taken the potential of digital editing and photo manipulation to completely new levels.
  • The future expansion of dairy marketing depends on the players conducting their business in a fair, honest and ethical manner in dealing with other businesses and with consumers. Only by doing so can the reputation of the industry be enhanced so that breeder demand will continue to grow.
Programs like Adobe Photoshop have made it possible for breeders to tell what is real and what is fake.

Programs like Adobe Photoshop have made it possible for breeders to tell what is real and what is fake.

To Whom Does This Code Apply?

  • Livestock Photographers
  • Graphic Designers
  • Artificial Insemination Companies
  • Dairy Cattle Genetics Companies
  • Dairy Cattle Breeders
The Dairy Marketing Code of Conduct LOGO

The Dairy Marketing Code of Conduct LOGO
Program members can use this logo to show that they uphold to the standards of this program.

What are the benefits of membership?

  • With breeder confidence in the images and ads they see at an all-time low, the ability to display to breeders that your marketing and genetics meet the highest ethical standards is a great way to reassure them that you value your relationship with them.
  • All members of this program will have the ability to place the Dairy Marketing Code of Conduct (DMCC) logo on their images and ads, showing all who view those ads/images that they can buy with confidence knowing that the decisions they make based on these ads and images meet the highest standards in the industry.
  • Members will be entitled to exclusive training. That is correct, as part of the program there will be training from some of the greatest experts in the industry today. In such areas as:
    • Photoshop and digital post production for dairy cattle marketers
    • Video and post production for dairy cattle marketers
    • Advanced photo and video capture best practices
    • Dairy cattle ad design concepts and best practices

What are the penalties for violation of the code?

For all those who sign up for the program and then do not adhere to its code of conduct the follow actions will occur:

  • Original photos must be provided upon request
  • All claims must be able to be substantiated with factual proof/documentation.
  • There will be an appeal process where said individuals/organizations can defend their case against being expelled.
  • If it is deemed that those photos/images/claims do not comply with the program, said member will be publicly expelled from the program.

Who is responsible for running the program?

  • Initially, the Bullvine and its agents will be responsible for the development and enforcement of the program for a 1 year period. After that, there will be the development of a Council for Ethical Dairy Cattle Marketing that will take over the development and encouragement of ethical practices, with the Bullvine supporting and administering the program.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

While this Code of Conduct is obviously in the early stages of development, we trust that photographers, graphic designers and other members of the dairy marketing community will take time to think about where the industry is headed and why now is the time for the establishment of best practices and ethical guidelines that help grow business for all community members.

To get a copy of the Dairy Marketing Code of Conduct please click here.

If you believe that there is a need for a ethical standard in marketing dairy cattle genetics please like and share this post.

No Cow Is Perfect – Not Even in Pictures

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

top13of2013The other day I read a comment that basically asked, “If steroids are illegal for athletes then shouldn’t Photoshop be illegal for models?”  This got me thinking about the implications for dairy cattle marketing as well.  As the Bullvine approaches the one-year mark, it reminds me of one of our initial articles, Has Photo Enhancement gone too far?  In that article we first addressed this taboo subject questioning how programs like Adobe Photoshop lets designers create anything the client wants.  Our goal in publishing that article was to spur change (Read more: Dairy Cattle Photography: Ethics and Copyright).  Similar to the way that Jose Canseco’s book “Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big” exposed steroid use in Baseball, we wanted to spur change in the dairy cattle photography industry (Read more: The Big Bad Wolf of the Dairy Industry). The reality is that no cow is perfect, not even in pictures (Read more: The Perfect Holstein Cow).

The Bullvine Holstein Mature Model Cow

The Bullvine Holstein Mature Model Cow

If foreign substances are illegal for show cows, then shouldn’t they be illegal for cow pictures as well?

Like major league baseball the show ring has had a transformation in its perspective on drugs and ethics (Read more: The Code: The Unwritten Rules of Dairy Cattle Show Ethics).  However,  similar to the world of cycling, the dairy cattle marketing world has yet to see this transformation (Read more: Lance Armstrong, Drugs and the Dairy Industry) That really got me thinking that, if foreign substances are illegal for show cows, then shouldn’t they be illegal for cow ads as well?

Toplines that have had “hair” added, udder texture that has been enhanced and teat placement that has been corrected, all seem to be more prevalent than ever.  Don’t even get me started about how some photographers have single handedly solved many breeder’s challenges of getting clean long necked cattle.  Even the basics of getting good lighting seem to have gone out the window.  Photoshop has made it too easy and more profitable for photographers to do it in post production than making sure the animal was the real deal to start.

model retouch

With Great Expectations Comes Great Disappointment

In an industry that already has unreal expectations about real beauty, the use of Photoshop in the fashion-modeling world has made for even greater unrealistic expectations of appropriate body image – especially among impressionable children and adolescents.  But there is one big difference between the photo retouching of fashion models and photo retouching of cattle images – The models are not the product that people are buying.

Right there is the big issue that I think many people are missing in this whole debate.  While we have all become complacent about fashion models whose appearance has been retouched, we have also become complacent about dairy cattle photos that have been retouched.  It has come to the point where most don’t even look at photos anymore to gage a sire’s potential  (Check out our recent Facebook poll).

I can remember when we first marketed Calbrett-I HH Champion and we put a lineup of 10 VG 2YR test sire daughters photo’s together – the first in the industry to do so.  But I am sure with genomic sires being used on such high caliber animals it will happen again soon.  It sold semen like none other.  Today when a new proven sire comes out, you are lucky to get two or three daughter shots and that’s about it.  For genomic sires you are often lucky to get a picture of the sire himself let alone a picture of his dam (often it is a heifer picture as she was contracted and flushed at such a young age).

This has me thinking whether there is value in picturing anymore?  I realized that while pictures today may not directly sell semen or embryos, they do a great job of generating hype.  While everyone likes to bash some livestock photographers about the ethics of their photos, there is no question that you can share a great shot of a show-winning cow on Facebook and the thing goes Viral.

So what is the average ethical breeder to do when they don’t have some great show-winning cow but wants to market their cattle?

In thinking about this challenging question, I remembered what Unilever did with their Dove line of products when facing a very similar challenge.  In 2004 they released The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty.  The principle behind the campaign is to celebrate the natural physical variation embodied by all women and inspire them to have the confidence to be comfortable with themselves.

In the dairy industry three great ways I can see for this to be done are as follows:

  • Roy - ABS Global

    Show all the angles
    Instead of just a boring side shot, try to get different angles of your cattle.  Three quarter rear shots are great at grabbing attention.  Show multiple angles of your cow, in order to gain maximum attention.  It is also hard to fake a shot when you see all sides of the animal as any changes would be amplified when comparing angles.  (Read more: 5 Tips to Make Your Next Dairy Magazine Ad the Best Ever and All Talk and No Action)

  • Leverage the Power of Video
    There is nothing better than video to help you sell and promote your cattle.  It does not have to be some big costly production.  In fact, it can be much cheaper than having a professional photographer come in.  You can simply use your hand held blackberry or smartphone and snap some quick snippets to share with potential buyers on Facebook or on your website.  Even good quality digital video cameras can be picked up at your local Best-Buy or Wal-Mart.  Many even come with some basic software so that you can add your own titles, images, and music.  (Read more: Nothing Sells Like Video)
  • Share it on Facebook
    It’s really pretty simple.  Set up your own Facebook page or a Facebook Fan page for your farm.  Tell your story.  Did you have a great classification round and want to let the world know?  Share it on Facebook.  Had a great flush and want to sell the embryos from it?  Share it on Facebook.  Your friends will spread the word and before you know it, you too will start to have a loyal following. (Read more: 7 Reasons Why Your Dairy Farm Needs to be on Facebook and The Fakebook – Our secret is exposed)

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Yes!  There are certainly photographers who have held true to their ethics, however, it seems that they are now in the minority rather than the majority.  I understand that Photoshop, a program that I love to use, makes life easier for all.  There comes a point, however, where ease should not outweigh ethics, especially when you are editing the appearance of the very genetic product that you are selling. The reality is that no cow is perfect, not even in pictures



To learn how to get your farm on Facebook download this free guide.



Empty Chairs at Empty Tables

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Since the beginning, the Bullvine has been committed to talking about the issues that others run from.  It’s not surprising that this has provoked a lot of discussion.  From both sides.  Adding to everything is the power of the internet and social media, which is the biggest megaphone the world has ever known.  There is no question that the Bullvine has taken the dairy industry by storm.

Do You Hear the People Singing?

For years I have stood in barns and at cattle picturing sessions and listened to some of the most passionate people in the industry complain that change is needed.  Hearing that cry inspired   us to start the Bullvine and give a voice to that call for change.  From A.I. organizations to photo and show ethics and hothouse herds we have faced the issues.  (Read –  Dairy Cattle Photography: Ethics and Copyright, Business Ethics and Marketing Dairy Cattle Genetics, Has Photo Enhancement Gone Too Far?, The Hot House Effect on Sire Sampling, Select Sires vs. Semex – A Contrast in Cooperatives)

At the Bullvine we did not enter this with the delusional belief that we thought it would be easy. Having been involved at various levels in this industry for many years, the team here at the Bullvine knew that this would not come quickly.  The parties on both sides of these issues are very passionate and see the virtue in what they are doing.

Whenever you raise discussion about touchy issues in an industry as passionate as the dairy industry, you know that it’s going to get personal.  That is what makes the dairy industry so amazing.  For all those involved it’s more than just a job.  It’s a livelihood. It’s a way of life.  It’s that passion that drives the need for change.  If the dairy industry was like some industries, people just wouldn’t care.  It wouldn’t matter.  In the dairy industry, it’s because we all care so much that we want to help drive change.


When you take a leadership position, you put yourself in the direct line of fire.  While some like to lead from the rear, that has never been our style (Read more: What the Dairy Industry can Learn From The Firing of Brian Burke).  When my mother and father saw the need to cut costs, redundancy and could see that the Canadian A.I. companies did not want to work together on the world markets, they led the dissolution of the company they were passionate about (The Canadian Association of Animal Breeders).  They faced putting themselves out of work rather than quietly watch that organization become nothing more than a bureaucracy and logistics organization (Canadian Livestock Genetics Association).  Likewise, my brother saw the need to further maximize breeders’ investment in the industry and led the charge for the merger of Holstein Canada and Canadian Dairy Network (CDN).  Our family has never been afraid to face change.

While I have no doubt that others share that same passion, the challenge is always finding a way to see the vision through to the end.  Change is never easy.  There are those that would rather fight than risk change.  I get that.  Therefore, it’s only natural for those who are afraid to start firing bullets at those who push for change.  The part that has always got me is that how when these bullets start firing that many run for the hills instead of picking of the flag and supporting the charge.  Those same people that talked the talk in the barns, at the cow shows and during the picture sessions now find themselves running for the hills.  While the reasons are many, for the most part it comes down to the fact that they are afraid, just like those that are firing the bullets.

Upon These Stones

A funny thing happened on the way to change. The call that was started by some of the biggest names in the industry, that have now abandoned the charge, is now supported by the average breeder.  The groundswell of support that we have received from our readers has been insane!  Upon the stones first laid by those turncoats the banner has now been taken up by those who have felt that they never had a voice.  And that too has changed the voice of the Bullvine.  What started as a voice for education in the marketplace has now become a megaphone for the marketplace to educate its leaders on the need for change.  What started as a new way to market, sell and breed dairy cattle, has now become a rallying cry for those who never had their voices heard.

I want to say thank you to those who first started with us and laid the stones for what has now grown into the most talked about and relevant community in the dairy industry.  Even though it sometimes feels like that there is no one coming to support the battle and it makes you question if the fight is worth it?  Is it worth straining or losing relationships that have been built over the years? Tough question. But then at least 2 or 3 times every day, we receive messages of great appreciation for what we do from people that we have never known or would not have expected to hear from.  This support recharges our conviction and helps us fight that much harder.

In this time when many breeder organizations are having their annual meetings, I ask these new leaders to think about stepping up and taking positions on these boards.  It is time to help those who have already started the call for change to help bring it about.  We have all heard complaints about the direction that these organizations are head in.  Well the only way to bring about change is to step up and be heard.  Otherwise, the positions are filled but, sadly,we are left with empty chairs at empty tables.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Sometimes when we look back at the original group that helped us start the Bullvine, it feels like we are left sitting at an empty table with empty chairs.  However, we are no longer sitting at a small table but rather we are standing with a much larger community.  This one has been built on passion not for dollar signs, but rather built around a vision for tomorrow that is far greater.  This community is not afraid of change but rather demands it.  New leaders have emerged and great new friendships have started.  Voices we never expected now inspire us on a daily basis.  Does this make standing on the front line easy?  No.  However, it does make it worthwhile.  Here at the Bullvine that’s all we need.



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Yesterday I let my enthusiasm get the better of me and posted a picture on Facebook that I shouldn’t have posted.  The picture was a compilation of cattle parts from some of the greatest cows in the breed.  The response to the image was insane.  There were over 300 people trying to guess what parts were what, with not one comment on the ethics of the photo.  However, what I failed to realize is that in the image there were some mistakes, and for that I am sorry.

What mistakes you might ask?  Well it really comes down to three points: 1) The background of the image was a signature background of a well known photographer 2) The original images were copyright 3) The effect it could have on the perception of livestock photography.

Every Artist Has Their Signature

Just like Picasso had his Cubist movement, Michelangelo had his Mannerist style and Leonardo da Vinci had his constant experimentation with new techniques.  Every artist has their signature approach or technique that tells you instantly that it is one of his or her pieces of work.

For dairy cattle photographers that typically comes down to their signature background.  For Patty Jones, it is her Royal background that is different from Vickie Fletcher’s Royal background and Cybil Fisher has her Madison background.  Each one tells the viewer that the image is instantly their piece of work.

In the image I created, I had not changed the background from that of Cybil’s Madison background, and for that I am sorry.  Especially when I am the one who wrote the article about how and why to change backgrounds (read – Has Photo Enhancement Gone Too Far?). As someone who greatly appreciates the work that these artists do, I worked too fast and overlooked this key element.  When one of the photographers brought this to my attention, my heart instantly sank.  I know how much work these photographers do in building their brand and, unintentionally, I had kind of slapped Cybil in the face.  I apologized profusely when she and I connected on the phone.

Photo Copy Right

Always a touchy subject with any artist is the rights to their work.  These photographers work very hard and spend many days and even weeks at a time on the road to provide a great service to the industry.  When someone takes off or removes credit from their work it can be very disheartening.

In the image in question, we removed the photo credit as it was actually the work of three different photographers and would not be accurate to put just one back on.  Since the image was more than 50% altered it technically did not qualify as one original piece of work and we did not, on the image, give the credit on it because of that.  We were expecting to give the credit with the article we planned to publish explaining why we created the image – Digital True Type Model – and explain that the image was altered not for exposure reasons but rather to help further our discussion of what the ideal cow looks like.

My benchmark for photo credit goes like this – unless the cow, bull or animals themselves have been altered in any way, photo credit should always be given.  Since the image in question at its very core was an intentional alteration of the animals, I did not want to include the integrity of the photographer in the end results, and hence no photo credit.

Photo Manipulation

Photo manipulation for the purposes of deception is 100% wrong.  Anyone who alters an image with the intent of deception is not a professional photographer or marketer and brings great disservice to the industry.

In altering this image we did not do so for any purpose of deception but rather for the purpose of education.  Everyone knows the technology exists to alter images.  We see it in the movies when people are walking on Mars or in magazines when super models are so airbrushed that you would not even recognize them in their day-to-day lives.  There is no question that it can be done.

In the dairy industry it seems to be a taboo subject.  No one wants to acknowledge it and address it.  The problem is that, by not doing so, the issue has only gotten larger and larger.  It also has led to a wide variance in each photographer’s line on what is acceptable and what is not acceptable and, in the end all photographers tend to be painted with the same dirtied brush.

In talking with some of the photographers that I hold in the highest regard about this issue, the subject always comes up that there are no technical guidelines about what is acceptable and what is not.  There is not an accreditation process to ensure that the photographers and marketers in the industry all abide by the same guidelines.

I have heard this often enough, and am offering to help establish, champion, and fund such a process so that the great work that many of these photographers do is not diminished by the few.  In saying such I would be reaching out to each of the major photographers, getting their input and seeing how we can establish such an organization.  Those I know their integrity is above reproach will be eager to join, and those that are not, will quickly identify themselves to all.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

We all do things out of excitement that, looking back on, we wish we could do differently.  This is certainly one of those incidents for me.  In the past, when people have challenged my opinions or comments, I have stood my ground as I knew exactly how I felt and where I needed to hold my position (Read – The Bullvine – Under Fire).  On this issue, when certain aspects were brought to light, I instantly took action before even speaking with the photographers in question, because I knew I was wrong and for that I am very sorry.