Candid ring and on-farm shots freeze time and bottle emotions, but does the industry truly appreciate the power the best images wield long after show day is over?
For the longest time, side-on photographs were the hallowed and lasting proof of excellence at the biggest shows. Now, there are a tight group of global photographers who routinely shoot and preserve action ring shots capable of raising the hair on the back of people’s necks. They are met halfway by an equally progressive group of breeders who know how to use that work – in tandem with side-on photographs – to their best advantage.
There are a couple of important “dos” and a “don’ts” for breeders who want to include candid ring shots in their marketing, and the ones who understand this undoubtedly have a head start when it comes to merchandising or saving images for their own memories…
The first and most meaningful piece of advice comes down to three words – “high resolution images”. Facebook immediately downsizes photographs, so they are not good enough quality to be used in print. If the file size doesn’t have a “MB” [megabyte] behind its name, it’s of limited use for print. It may be “marketing 101”, but it’s surprising how many make this mistake, and are left disappointed.
Breeders who want to add candid photographs to their marketing options, should request the high-resolution files from the photographer. Photographers should always also be acknowledged whenever images are used. This is not only common courtesy, it’s clearly covered in copyright law.
ADVISE FROM THE TOP
Terri Packard, of Kueffner Cows in Western Maryland, understands this part of the business well. Terri and her husband, Ernie Kueffner, are genius marketers and Terri has some simple advice. (Read more: Terri Packard: When you build it…they do come)
They launched Arethusa Farm’s brand and took its cows – among other achievements – to a history-breaking effort at the WDE. It was 2004 when Arethusa won both Supreme and Reserve Supreme Champion with their Holstein, Hillcroft Leader Melanie, and Jersey Huronia Centurion Veronica. They also won Premier Breeder banners for Arethusa in the two toughest breeds at WDE – Holsteins and Jerseys.
This couple also co-managed and hosted (with Dan Donor and Isaac Lancaster) the Global Glamour sale from Arethusa’s Connecticut base in 2008, which averaged US$97,491. This was the sale that Apple was sold for US$1million. (Read more: KHW Regiment Apple-Red-ET – Everything and more)
Today, Terri and Ernie enjoy concentrating on their own operation. They were the co-owners, masterminds, and daily grunt behind the 2019 WDE Grand Champion Holstein, Butz-Butler Gold Barbara EX95 (pictured), who was 65 days fresh after a two-year break when she won.
Terri says, “Before WDE Jenny Thomas [Triple-T Farm, North Lewisburg, Ohio] asked me to find some ring shots of Veronica [Huronia Centurion Veronica] for a project she was doing for Select Sires’ WDE displays.
“So, there I was digging back into my 2004 to 2006 files hoping to find something that was high enough resolution for her to enlarge. Eventually I did…and as I walked into the coliseum at Expo, there was a life-size banner of Veronica and Norman [Nabholz, her handler] hanging above one of the entrances.
“Anyway, as I had been digging, I found several that I wished I had of got in high resolution at the time. But we are talking 16 to18 years ago. Ring shots were just becoming a ‘thing’.
“There wasn’t necessarily a place to see or preview them all (like Facebook now where hundreds are posted) and you had to purchase them individually, which got to be expensive, so you only ordered your absolute favourites.
“This is what I said in my email to Jenny (thinking about the success the Vierra cattle have had recently under her families’ care). ‘A piece of advice – get all the good pictures even if you have to buy them. Gather them up and file them somewhere because you never know when you will need to pull them out.’
“Fifteen to 25 years later, I am still looking back for pictures – whether for a banner we’re doing to promote a certain cow family or accomplishment, a ‘remember when’ social media post (which people love), to add more variety to the photographic selection in a sale catalog, or at the request of an AI company that wants to promote one of their bull’s daughters from the past, or just to frame for our personal use, or for gifts for our friends or partners in cattle.
“So, that would be my advice to your readers too. Get all the good pictures you can. Every angle. And make sure you have your favourite ones saved in high resolution so that they can be used in print. Chances are the photos you grab from Facebook while scrolling on your phone are low resolution – fine for social media – but they won’t work for those special projects down the road. Twenty years from now the cost (if there is any) will seem minor compared to the memories that you have saved.”
Ysabel Jacobs, of Ferme Jacobs agrees. Based at Cap-Santé, in Québec, only one other Canadian farm has won Premier Breeder at The Royal more times than Ferme Jacobs (Romandale Holsteins, 13 times). Notably, at The Royal, in 2018 Ferme Jacobs showed no heifers and they have nudged ahead of household names like Dupasquier Holsteins, Hanover Hill Holsteins, Glenafton Holsteins and Rosafe Holsteins. (Read more: Ferme Jacobs – “Dreams without goals are just….dreams”)
In 2018 the Holstein breeders won Grand and Reserve Grand Champion with homebred entries. The last time that had happened at The Royal was Agro Acres with maternal sisters in 1969. Before that the only other recorded time was by Mount Victoria in 1935. Not bad for a family that didn’t show in-milk cows at The Royal until 2003, or at WDE until 2008.
“We mostly use our ring shots because we believe they are the most natural pictures of the cow,” Ysabel says.
It’s worth noting that they also have the advantage of the incredibly talented photographic story-teller, Carl Saucier, in-house.
A recent tragedy is perhaps the most potent reminder of the value of an exceptional photo. Blondin RD Unstopabull Maple appeared to indeed be “unstoppable” after winning Grand Champion of the Red & White Holstein show, Grand Champion of the Black & White Holstein Show, and Supreme Champion of the 100th Royal Winter Fair, in Canada. A month later, this exciting four-year-old passed away. She was owned by K Doeberiener, L Bowen, W Schilling & T&S Abbott.
It was also a sad day for Adam Hodgins, from Hodglynn Holsteins, Kincardine, Ontario who had bought Maple’s dam, Kawartha Armani Memory EX92 (in partnership with Select Farm, Export Ltd, Little Star Holsteins, and Crackholm Holsteins) when she was carrying Maple. However, his partnership still has Memory, along with several sisters and family members. He knows the reality is that those photos are potentially gilded with gold.
“I can’t emphasis enough the importance of getting a high-resolution photo to increase your profits, and the marketability of family members and future generations,” Adam said.
Han Hopman’s work through Holstein International is as iconic as his on-farm images which have been gracing this magazine for years. (Read more Han Hopman: Shooting Straight at Holstein International)
Another of the photographers who has more recently led the charge in candid ring photographs is Andrew Hunt, of The Bullvine. Never backward in coming forward, he doesn’t mince his words. (Read more: The Bullvine – Comfortable making others Uncomfortable)
“Nothing does a better job of grabbing the readers’ attention and capturing the moments people will never forget than show ring pictures,” Andrew said. “They tell a story and storytelling is timeless.”
The week following WDE there were more than 600 downloads of The Bullvine’s hi-resolution photographs.
“In an era of photoshop, show ring pictures leave no doubt as to the ethics of the photos. In show ring pictures you can ensure that what you see is what you are purchasing or investing in.”
For many in the industry, these images have also become more than simply about the great cows. It has also about the people, friends, and families who manage and show those cows.
SPAIN KNOWS HOW TO CELEBRATE
For any, who had any doubt about what that win meant for Spain, click on this link and see Jordan’s phenomenal homecoming. https://www.facebook.com/reel/533140285375660?fs=e&s=m
NZDE HAS A TALENTED BELGIUM ON THE BOOKS
The NZDE has an exciting opportunity to find its own iconic images from January 24 to 26 when Belgium photographer Laurens Rutten pictures at its Feilding event this year. Laurens, who is well known to the international show community, was nicknamed “the pretzel” by Canadian photographer Patty Jones because of his uncanny ability to fold his lanky frame into a low-lying pose to capture photographs. (Read more Photographer Laurens Rutten “A Rising Star”)
Laurens brings New Zealanders an advantage they haven’t had since UK photographers, Ginger & Pickles, and Claire Swale, visited.
Laurens has been working on-farm in New Zealand after finishing his bachelor’s degree in International Agribusiness (Van Hall Larenstein, Wageningen) and Masters degree in Animal Science specialising in Animal Nutrition & Metabolism (Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen, The Netherlands).
“I’m on a global dairy experience where I’m working in various roles for progressive dairies with a view to enhance my practical knowledge in dairy production,” Laurens said.
“I’m working across different regions while travelling, exploring different cultures, and developing my professional network,” he said. In the lead-up to the NZDE he was working on a 1400-cow pasture-based dairy in Methven, Canterbury (South Island).”
He was just 17 when he first worked the European show in March 2013 in Fribourg, Switzerland.
“It has truly been a fantastic experience and I feel very privileged to have photographed some of the best cows our industry has seen over the past decade.
“Two of my photos of O’Kalibra are still some of my favorites today, and when they were recognised at the time, it gave me opportunities like being asked by Holsteinplaza/Eurogenes to photograph at World Dairy Expo in October 2013,” Laurens said.
Laurens has pictured at four WDEs (2013, 2014, 2015, 2018), two European Shows (2013 Fribourg – 2016 Colmar), four Swiss Expos (2014, 2015, 2016, 2020), the Belgian National Show, the Dutch National Show, the Austrian National Show, the European Open Holstein Show at Montichiari (Italy), the Luxembourg National Show, various regional shows in Canada, Belgium and The Netherlands – in addition to young breeders competitions and auctions.
“A candid photo shows cows from many different angles and as a photographer there is nothing more exciting than having the 360-degree freedom around those amazing cows while integrating beautiful backgrounds and the scenery typical of a specific show,” Laurens said.
“A photographer generally has the best seat in the house. Therefore, from a short distance looking in the class for an animal’s strengths, capturing the atmosphere and searching for beautiful moments in and around the ring is very enjoyable, and all part of providing the best possible coverage.
“In the end, there is nothing more rewarding to see your photos being used. It has been exciting to see the uptake of everyone’s candid photos in our industry being nowadays the showcase/gateway for a show to the international dairy community as well as an integral part of breeders and farmers for their marketing their genetics.”
He credits his parents, Karel Rutten and Anne-Lies Martens for infusing a love of the industry from a young age and he is available for competitors at the NZDE to picture – either in the ring at the show – or by appointment following the show.
“It’s something that still gives me goosebumps when I reflect or look back at my work and continue to do photographing forward. I’m looking forward to being part of the NZDE’s media team.”
As the show focus heads Down Under over the next month, one of those shows – the New Zealand Dairy Event (NZDE) – will welcome a number of international fitters, in addition to ringside photographer Laurens Rutten (Belgium). He will team up with Dianna Malcolm (Mud Media) as the NZDE’s media team. Laurens’ candid ring shots include some iconic international work, and he offers New Zealand exhibitors a special opportunity to take their cows’ marketing to the next level. For the spectators who can’t get to the show, judging will be livestreamed via the show’s facebook page by On Target Productions. This story traverses the international industry and shows what can be achieved with savvy marketing…