It is the dream of every passionate dairy breeder to achieve recognition. This can be done in many ways, from success in the show ring to earning Master Breeder status. Dominique Savary of Grand-Clos Holstein in Switzerland has earned both those benchmarks. However, he has not stopped there and is continuing to gain recognition for his skill in taking great photographs of the cattle, people and dairy industry that he is so passionate about. The Bullvine recently had the pleasure of interviewing Dominique and discussing his experiences as dairy breeder, showman and photographer.
“My father was one of the first who went to Canada and the US to search for Holstein genetics.”
Childhood influences have shaped Dominique’s success as an adult. “In my childhood, many people involved in breeding passed through our home. They came to talk to my father, Jean, about the arrival of the Holstein in Switzerland. The first imports of Holstein semen from Canada were made when I was five years old. My father was very active in carrying out this import project. All my youth was bathed in the fighting so that the Holstein breed would find a real place in Switzerland. I think that is what gave me the biggest motivation to get involved in breeding.”
“North American dairy breeding has always fascinated me”
Dominique is proud of the pioneering dairy work carried out by his father Jean in the 1970s. “My father was the best role model for my future. From my childhood, I said, “I’m going to go to North America. I want to learn. I want to understand.’ I traveled there for the first time when I was twenty-two years old and have been there more than 25 times since.”
“Everything that revolves around breeding has always been a driving force for me.”
Dominique’s family history with dairy is relatively recent. “I am only the second generation involved in breeding. My paternal grandfather was the head of a small railway station. In fact, it was my father who gave the taste for breeding and milk production. He started his career with nothing. He fought for Holsteins to have a place in the Swiss landscape of the day. Switzerland, was almost entirely populated by Brown Swiss, Simmental, Swissfleckvieh and some Black Spotted. The dairy leaders in our country did not welcome the arrival of Holsteins into Switzerland.” Inspired by his father’s passion, Dominique “did a complete agricultural training and took over the paternal farm in 1994.” He proudly explains, “The milk produced on my farm is intended for cheese making “Le Gruyère AOP”.”
Dominique leads in the dairy industry through the Holstein Switzerland Association and Swissgenetics.
“Early on, I got involved in breeding and genetics organizations. Breeding, genetic selection and Breeding organizations have always fascinated me.” He is actively involved in leadership of the Holstein industry in Switzerland. “By presiding over the Holstein Switzerland association for eleven years and now Swissgenetics for three years, I have had the immense opportunity of getting to know many fascinating people in the world of Swiss and world breeding. The fact of having also chaired the Holstein Genetic Commission of Swissgenetics for many years has also allowed me to travel around the world for the selection of bulls.
Dominique and Grand-Clos Holstein received the title of Master Breeder in 2015
Dominique states quite simply that “receiving the title of Master Breeder in 2015 was a great moment of my breeding career. I am very grateful to the people who have trusted and supported me and feel lucky to have achieved all of this.”
“When I started photography again, it was to photograph cows.”
Sometimes hobby, career and passion all come together at the right time. Dominique started using his photography skills to photograph cows in the selection rounds for Swissgenetics. “I was taking pictures of the test daughters in North America to show them to our Swiss breeders. Then I went to take pictures in some exhibitions.” Dominique’s passion goes beyond the simple cataloguing of conformation. “I really like to photograph cows at work in the grasslands when they are grazing. In Switzerland, we have a lot of cattle grazing on the mountain pastures during the summer season. It is a pleasure to make images of cows or heifers in mountain scenery.”
“I really want to do more studying of the technical side of photography.”
As with everything he undertakes, Dominique applies himself to doing the very best that he can. In talking about his interest in photography he provides some background. “I always did a little photography but I really started seriously five years ago.” He feels he had good grounding in his understanding of the creative aspects. “I felt the artistic side in my eye, but I had a big gap in the technical side. I am an autodidact. I have never taken a photography class. I read a lot and watch videos on YouTube. Gradually the technical aspects of adjustments and post-processing became clearer for me.” He sums up. “I still have a lot to learn. I wish I could spend a few days with a professional who could help me really master the technique to learn more.”
“I like to bring emotion into my images. Whether in nature or in the show ring.”
Dominique is very clear in describing what inspires the photos he takes. “I am sensitive. I like to bring emotion into my images. Whether in nature or in an exhibition ring, I want to bring a different look by trying to give a little emotion to my photos. Posing cows as we see them in bull catalogs does not interest me. I am an ambient photographer.”
Dominique’s favorite photos. “The right time. The right light. The right composition.”
Dominique has a growing reputation for capturing the candid and emotional side of his subjects. He doesn’t want to be confined in his approach. “What I prefer is freedom of action. Power without pressure.” He continues his explanation by saying. “I want to free my mind to take pictures. I like having carte blanche and being able to make my inspiration work.” Dominique gives specific examples. “This year there were two places where I loved taking photos. One was at the Royal Winter Fair, where Holstein Canada gave me permission to enter the ring. The second was at the Samsales Desalp, where I had fun as a child and was now taking pictures of the cows with flowers and the people who accompanied them.” His assessment of the year. “It has been a pleasure!”
Dominique’s favorite places. “The Royal Winter Fair” “World Dairy Expo” “Quebec landscapes”
“I am lucky to have my son Grégoire who made the agricultural agro-technician school. He is currently working 100% on our farm. He and my wife Christiane get involved on the farm and it gives me more time to do other projects like photography”. Dominique enjoys the great showcases of the world’s top dairy cattle, “It would be great to go back to the Royal Winter Fair and World Dairy Expo in Madison to take pictures of the atmosphere.” But, he doesn’t limit himself to the show ring only. “For landscapes, I would like to take winter pictures in Quebec.” He also goes beyond the subject of cattle and is attracted to the people side of photography. “I would also like to accompany artisans who work with their hands.” He goes on to describe another growing passion. “I really like the traditions that are at home or elsewhere. Photographing traditions with costumes and customs is something that I like very much. “
The future. “I would like more time to do photography.”
As more and more people have the opportunity to see Dominique’s work, he is growing a following. “I started posting my photos on Facebook a few years ago and had a lot of feedback encouraging me to publish more. I also posted a portfolio (https://dsavary.myportfolio.com). Many people are interested in my images. Little my little, orders came in for me to make enlargements, to illustrate websites or magazines. I was very proud when one day a multimedia company contacted me to buy photos.” No wonder he sums up by saying, “I would like more time to do photography.”
The Bullvine Bottom Line
Dominique loves capturing the emotional connection to cows, people and traditions. He has used his knowledge of cows and his skill as a photographer to provide something unique. “My clients want emotion and my goal is to do something different.” The Bullvine joins with our readers in congratulating Dominique for turning his hobby and his passion for dairy cattle into a product that is an inspiration to dairy enthusiasts everywhere.