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Picture Perfect: Patty Jones

PATTY JONES: Picture Perfect!

Patty JonesPatty Jones has a passion for cows and for people who share that passion.  “I work with a lot of new young farmers.  I tell them off the bat what they need to do.”  And she says they listen and pay attention. No doubt they recognize that with nearly forty years of experience photographing between 60 and 65000 cows, she knows what she’s talking about. Even longtime clients of Canadian Livestock Photography occasionally forget details.  Patty says the young guys know this is important. “I wouldn’t be working if I didn’t help my clients make money.  They’re not just taking pictures for the hell of it”! She is sincere about what everyone is aiming for. “If I can help farmers, especially the younger guys, to get going and make a little bit more out of their investment.  What the heck?  That’s what I do it for.”


Once the preparation details have been discussed Patty hopes to arrive and find the heads have been tied up they are all cleaned and everything goes ahead on schedule. If picture taking is new to the breeder Patty has a couple of suggestions: “Pick out the top mother cows.” Looking at the changing industry she adds” Nowadays, of course, pick the genomic heifers.” What a change this has made in the industry and for Patty. “My business has really increased in photographing heifers because of genomics.”


The secret to great pictures according to Patty comes down to “Patience”. Patty is emphatic about this and gives an example. “Daughters of Goldwyn have taught a lot of people patience.” This is a lesson learned over time. “Twenty years ago we wouldn’t have known what to do with them. Today we know the secret. Patience!” She says she even practices this while waiting at stop lights. “Waiting for five minutes … Patience is a virtue.”


Good photography is taking the same old picture, cow, situation … and looking at it from a different angle. “Good pictures have always been the key to cattle marketing.” Wherever breeders talk marketing they are told a picture is worth a thousand words.  “A lot of farms like Roybrook and Glenafton knew the importance of pictures and made good use of them.” She feels the industry knows it isn’t a choice.  Just do it.


Stepping back from the camera lens Patty points out that there are some changes in the perspective of the modern dairy farmer that she thinks are good for the longevity of the cattle breeders themselves, “The biggest change that I see with the young guys is that I would call them smart farmers.  This is not to say that previous generations were not smart.  But these new guys are not focused on fourteen hour days of manual labour.  We will have a lot healthier and older farmers. As it has with cameras, mechanization has come into play. Modern farm families see that it is very important to be able to get away.  Kids, wives and husbands need that time away to get renewed.” She supports this by quoting advice she gave a young farmer who complained that relief milkers can be awfully expensive. She pointed out, “So can losing half the farm!”  “Stop and smell the flowers” is something that she preaches and tries to practise.


A world traveller who gets to know new countries from the very best location – people’s barns and kitchens.” How did she get these opportunities? “I never had specific goals but as I look back on my career, I can see that everything built on ability and passion. Everything has led me to where I am today.  I live for this.  Every morning I wake up and wonder what I’ll see today.”  She recalls doing a picture for the Pope at his summer residence. She explains, “Special arrangements had to be made.  After the third time that I crossed the helicopter pad I asked myself, “How many Popes have stood on this same spot.” Awesome she admits but not the most memorable ever because she says, “Hopefully I haven’t had it yet!|


Patty points to a career that is still evolving and teaching her new things about people, places and cows:


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