Archive for Holstein International

CHRISTINE MASSFELLER “Once Upon A Time Calendar Girl”

For cattle photographer Christine Massfeller timing is everything.  As a young child, the timing was right for visits with her mother to a nearby dairy farm.  Next good timing provided her with the perfect mentor.  The timing was also right when a creative idea blossomed and the right subjects and the right team came together at the right time. It shouldn’t be surprising then to learn that Christine Massfeller is the photographer behind the 2014 Masterrind Calendar.  Any way you look at it that photo shoot has timeliness written all over it. (To view this keep sake Calendar click here)

calori_d_jasper_maribold_120607_0041 Kopie

Christine Massfeller holding Calori D Jasper Maribold

“From Behind the Scenes, Christine Moved to Behind the Camera.”

Many will tell you that the greatest thing about finding your true calling is the way it expands your talents and abilities.  Christine Massfeller found this to be true when she was working in the Public Relations department of the German AI Rinder-Union West.  For her what came next was a logical progression. “At RUW I was responsible for the magazine they produce for their local members. So I also started taking pictures for that magazine just learning by doing because I was not educated in photography at all. But at this time my interest grew and I bought my first semi professional camera, organized some photo shoots and bought and read literature about basic technical things.” A simple beginning that for Christine soon progressed to an important next step. “A few months later I was introduced to Han Hopman by my German colleague Steve Schneider and I started my career with Holstein International.”

Calendar Cover - Schneewittchen - Snow White Cow: Girl (Graceland), Owner: Agrargenossenschaft Eibau Model: Constance Nagler.

Calendar Cover – Schneewittchen – Snow White
Cow: Girl (Graceland), Owner: Agrargenossenschaft Eibau
Model: Constance Nagler.


JANUARY Sterntaler – The Star Talers
Calf: WEU Pamela (Fanatic),
Owner: Perk, Spanharrenstaette

“Looking Back it was Early Exposure that Inspired the Times of her Life”

Let’s rewind the story a bit to discover where a passion for cows started for a girl who wasn’t raised on a farm but learned to love cows anyway. Christine recalls the beginning. “I grew up in a small town and fell in love with cows when I was a child, when my mom and I picked up milk from a very small dairy farm close by. It was always difficult for my mom to get me out of the barn again. I could watch cows and spend time with them for hours.” Surprisingly, or maybe not, Christine made this the inspiration for her education. “After school I went to university and studied Agricultural Science with the focus on Animal Nutrition, Genetics and Breeding.”  This was no passing fancy and it is a daily party of her life. “I love everything that has to do with cows. My boyfriend’s cows realize that every day. I absolutely love spoiling them.”


Cow: WHC Schira (Golden Eye),
Owner: Weseloh, Schneverdingen
Model: Marion

“It is Invaluable to Have Timely Mentoring.”

The next timely occurrence for this budding photographer was getting employed by Holstein International.  Christine describes it as, “The best thing that could ever happen to me.  The people are wonderful and I had a perfect start there.” This also marked the timely entry of a very important mentor. “I got the best teacher you can imagine in Han Hopman.”  Here was an opportunity that would make a big difference to Christine. “Han Hopman developed creative and natural cow photography. (Read more about Hans Hopman in Han Hopman: Shooting Straight at Holstein International) In the beginning of my HI career he spent a lot of time with me, teaching and showing me everything he knew: technical aspects, how to work with cows behavior, putting legs, composing images, communication with people and animals etc.”  No doubt this input inspired Christine to delve deeper into photography and, with the generous support of Holstein International, Christine furthered her studies.  “I did an official photography education at a renowned Dutch school.” And she continued to learn from her mentor. “The most important thing was that Han is such a good teacher and great and loyal boss. That saved so much time in making progress.” Indeed people are the main success factor for Christine. “Being a member of the editorial team of HI gives me the chance to learn so much about the dairy and breeding business from my colleagues and of course from the business itself and all the people I meet and work with.”  (To see more great work from Holstein International photography team click here)

March Cover

MARCH Kleine Meerjungfrau – Little Mermaid
Cow: BcH Caroli (Stylist),
Owner: Luenschen
Model: Rabea

“It should be possible to take ordinary cows and make them Extraordinary”

It is obvious that Christine Massfeller is a true cow passionista.  Who else would come up with an idea that basically meant sending out a casting call for cows? But that is just one part of the challenges that she enjoys when doing cattle photography which has so many facets to get right.  She numbers them.  “Bringing a cow into balance and getting out the best of every animal, scene and model. Making the best of every situation. Working with light.”  Cows constantly influence Christine’s imagination and her work. “For my photography education exam, I developed my series “Cows Surreal”. The idea was to put cows in scenes they naturally never would appear. The idea behind that was that almost every human in our modern world has contact with dairy animals, but not in a direct way. People buy milk and milk products in supermarkets but almost never see a cow in real. So I tried bringing cows back to people in an abstract way. This series is not yet finished. I will continue working on it soon. But with starting this series I got some worthwhile experiences with real complicated and difficult photo shoots.”

April Cover

APRIL Baron von Muenchhausen
Cow: Kleopatra (Stempler),
Owner: Bertram, Hunden
Model: Gerhard

“They said ‘It Couldn’t Be Done!’”

Quite often it turns out that the best impetus for doing something exceptional happens when you’re told that it can’t be done.  Cow art, cow science and cow photography are not immune to naysayers.  In Christine Massfeller’s case she wanted to show the world a different perspective on cows. Not for her is the idea of “same old, same old.” She wants to take the whole experience for herself, her viewers … and even the settings the cattle are placed in to a whole new level.  “I had the idea to go a step further and I developed that fairytale idea. That would involve even more story telling. In the beginning it was very difficult to convince people that this could work. Too much effort.  Too expensive. Too Crazy.  Too Kitschy.”  So, of course, Christine didn’t give up. “The images were already finished in my head but most people I talked with first could not imagine how it would look like.” And then good timing entered the picture once again.  I got support from Han and he promised me we would do it together and publish it with HI.”

May Cover

MAY Schneeweisschen & Rosenrot
Limousin bull and Charolais heifer owned by Ahrens GbR, Hespe
Models: Sophia Sparkles and Eva Wermert.

“It was a BIG idea for BIG Calendar that had found it’s Time!”

When all the necessary parts of a project come together — you just know that something big is going to happen. “Han has done a calendar for Masterrind almost every year for the last 10 years. Their calendars always have a special theme. We brought the fairytale idea to the table and immediately got some supporters, who were very enthusiastic about the idea. Then we worked out a plan and Masterrind decided to do it with us. It was a win win situation. Masterrind was a great partner and they organized everything perfectly.”

June Cover

JUNE Bremer Stadtmusikanten – The Bremen Town Musicians
Cow: Schnicka (Donley), Owner: Hoeft, Bramstedt
sheep (14 year old Erna) and cock (still alive!!) owned by Evers family, Syke; dog Winnie owned by Hermann Bischoff

“Making it Look Simple Requires A Lot of Work”

With approval for the project, it was time to put in the hard work. “We had quite a few meetings and developed everything, the scenes, how the cows should look like, the human models, the costumes and everything else.” Although cows were the stars, it took a lot of people to pull it off. |Christine gives credit to the large behind-the-scenes-team. “It took everyone pulling together. There was the Masterrind organization, their PR department, some of their classifiers who selected the cows (and also helped washing & clipping them, organized the transportation to the scenes), the human models (some of them Masterrind employees or their kids, some of them from my soccer team), the cow models, the breeders of the cows who prepared their animals, professional hairdressers and makeup artists.”  Christine feels that having such an enthusiastic team was a key ingredient of the project’s success. “It was really wonderful to work with such great people (and cows) who did such a good job, even though they had no experience with such a project (me either)!”

July Cover

JULY Rotkaeppchen – Little Red Riding Hood
Bull: Smokin Joe (Observer), MASTERRIND
Model: Carolin
Wolf: Hermann Bischoff

August Cover

AUGUST Froschkoenig – The Princess & the Frog
Cow: FUX Sia (Alexander), owner: Hahn/Radtke GbR
Model: Teresa Kempe.

“The Fairy Tale Ending is A Pleasant Surprise”

When you plan a fairytale photo shoot, it would be nice to assume that it would end happily ever after.  Even with her passion for dairy cows, Christine has been pleasantly surprised at how the project has been received. “Honestly I did not expect such a big response. Masterrind gave the calendar to their members (in Germany the AIs are owned by their local breeders) and clients. It was out before 2014 started. We got many emails from people who wanted to buy one, also from people who are not in our business.”  (To order your copy of the keep sake Calendar click here)

September Cover

SEPTEMBER Dornroeschen – Sleeping Beauty
Cow: Jolli (Jotan), owner: Agrargenossenschaft Bockendorf eG
Model: Lori

October Cover

OCTOBER Hans im Glueck – Lucky Hans
Cow: Silva, owner: KÖG Kleinbardau
Models: Thomas & Thomas

“Dreamscapes Inspire a Dream Job”

Loving what you do every day is a dream that many wish they could fulfill.  Christine makes it look easy and inspiring, but she has eight steps that comprise her best advice to someone who would like to follow their photography dream: Work hard. Find a good teacher. Listen at the right moment. Don’t listen at the right moment. Be a better photographer then Photoshopper. Develop your own thing. Be open. Be always respectful to people and cows you are working with.” Christine is more than willing to take her own advice and adds a couple more action steps. “Staying healthy and open minded. Keep on working for HI. Keeping learning, because photography gets more and more difficult the deeper you get into it. It’s a big process.” Her dearest dream is to keep developing new ideas and producing the ideas that come up.” She sums it up enthusiastically. “There are so many pictures in my head that need to be taken!”

November Cover

NOVEMBER Haensel & Gretel
Cow: Litt Leo (Radenko), owner: Wortmann GbR, Morsum


DECEMBER Aschenputtel – Cinderella
Cow: Jess (Starfire), owner: Pfaff, Gahlenz
Model: Nicole
Castle: Schloss Moritzburg, Sachsen

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Not only have dairy calendars been taken in a totally unprecedented direction but so have the cows that are our daily inspiration.  With the turning of every page, there is a new dairy dimension to be celebrated.  Congratulations to you Christine Massfeller for sharing your wonderful images and giving us insight and inspiration for every dairy day of the calendar year. (To order your copy of the keep sake Calendar click here)



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Han Hopman: Shooting Straight at Holstein International

Dairy breeding is about putting the right pairings together. It is also the formula for success that has worked more than once for photographer Han Hopman, one of the founders of Holstein International.  He explains the beginning of his dual interests. “With my parents I always went on vacation to a dairy farmer. He always took me with him for milking and feeding the cows. I loved them. Back home in town again I missed them dearly. When I became 10 years old I asked for a camera to take pictures of the cows and glue them into a book. From that time I wanted to be a cow photographer.”  Cameras and cows. Han can’t have one without the other.

Han Hopman has captured some of the great bull shots in history, including this one of Ensenada Taboo Planet

Han Hopman has captured some of the greatest bull shots in history, including this one of Ensenada Taboo Planet

Mission Possible:  Write On!  Great pics!  From Cover to Cover

Han’s passion for cows was later enhanced by collaboration with Jan Bierma. “We were already making articles for several magazines like Holstein World, Holstein Journal, Typex in France, Bianco Nero in Italy and Veeteelt in the Netherlands and a few more. In Holstein World we had the Euroworld section. We published in that section information about bulls and genetics from Europe. When we had to stop that because of political reasons, we decided to start our own international magazine.” In 1994 they founded Holstein International in the Netherlands. Because of their professions Jan Bierma took on the editorial part of the magazine while Han took over the photography. Another great pairing.

Special presentation by Han Hopman (holding camera) and Jan Bierma (left) to Barry Slack and Charlie Will of Select Sires.

Quantum of Success

Hopman and Bierma already shared the bonds of friendship and commitment to Holsteins and it soon became obvious how well their words and pictures would continue the complementary relationship. “We have made Holstein International as it is now. One of the most important and leading Holstein Magazines in the World. The only independent unbiased magazine in the world, which is published in six different languages in over 60 countries. And all the information so up to date!” They have come a long way as Han marvels, “I didn’t foresee this when we started in 1994.”

The Incredible Shrinking World – Cows Unlimited  

During the nineteen years spanned by their publication, Holstein dairy breeding has gone from primarily a country-by-country breeding focus to a global panorama where the Holstein breed is international in every way. “When we started HI, global breeding was just beginning. Every country was on its own. Now days you can use almost every bull you want and use every cow family you like – from anywhere in the world. The breeding world has become one big country. I think this is the biggest change I have seen. It has helped the industry a lot.” Han is happy with these changes and proudly affirms, “I am sure Holstein International did a good job to speed up this process!”

Han Hopman has captured some of the most iconic images in the dairy industry. Including this shot of the great Harvue Roy Frosty.

Genomics Isn’t a ‘Point and Shoot’ Solution

Han urges caution when incorporating new and exciting changes such as the ones coming about with Genomics. He advises. “Genomics is a good tool for a breeder. But only a few parts are known.” It is the unknown that concerns him. “What is the influence of linking genes? We don’t know yet but we act as if we know everything about it.” He has concerns for the future. “We have to take care that we do not destroy our breed by using genomic bulls on daughters of genomic bulls who don’t have a daughter-proof yet. It is a pity if we destroy what breeders like Pete Heffering, Frank Reagan and others like them have built up for us.” The worst case scenario for Han would be, “Mating purely on genomics (because that) has nothing to do with breeding any more. It is multiplying the ‘highest bull with the highest heifer’. A pity.”

Always catching the moment this is a great teamwork shot by Han Hopman.

The “BIG” Picture is Changing Focus

Han anticipates that other changes will also be coming into view. “In the long run I think that small farms cannot survive and that there will be more and bigger farms.” These evolving changes will be impacted by many other things as Han points out “Land will be expensive and also the costs of transporting food will increase.” He foresees major changes ahead for the cows he loves.  “Genetics technology will have a big influence on our Holstein population. Genomics in the future will have more and more reliability. If that is true, then you will see a larger difference between farms who have cows to produce milk and farms who produce the animals for the next generation. So the whole set up of the industry will change when genomics becomes more reliable.”

Han Hopman’s great passion is catching dairy cattle in their natural state.

Shooting Stars – Naturally

From the very beginning Han has enjoyed taking pictures of cows in a natural setting. “I started as a side shot photographer but my passion is to picture them as relaxed as possible. It is nice to make a natural shot of a cow. To picture her in a way that you can see from the picture that she is happy or at least fully herself. If you can catch that moment, it gives me a happy feeling. And it is nice that I have my own magazine, which is a beautiful podium to publish these kinds of pictures.”

Han Hopman always get’s his shot including this one of Eastside Lewisdale Goldwyn Missy & RF Goldwyn Hailey, Grand Champion and Reserve Grand Champion at Royal Winter Fair 2011.

You Only Love Once – Get It on Film

Han loves his work and has advice for others. “Do what you like and love. You only live once! I loved cows as a child and got homesick when I wasn’t with them. Now I have the best job in the world. I have my own cow magazine and travel a lot around the world to visit the most important herds of the world and see the most beautiful cows.”

Han Hopman pictured To-Mar Blackstar pictured a few weeks before Blackstar died.

Han Hopman pictured To-Mar Blackstar pictured a few weeks before Blackstar died.

Photographic memory: Once More with Feeling

Such enthusiasm and dedication has undoubtedly produced a huge portfolio of images. Han has an evolving list of favorites.  He says, “For a long time it was the picture of Blackstar. I pictured him a few weeks before he died in his box. He was my first important American bull that I pictured. I was so proud that I got the opportunity to do that. Charley Will from Select Sires made it happen for me and I am still thankful for that.” New pictures are always rising up his list. “At the moment it is the picture of Planet. In the picture you can see who he is. And such an important bull at the moment!” Han speaks emotionally of a picture he took last year at Omaha Beach. “Just a cow with a beautiful girl. It was the place where D-day started and you could still feel the atmosphere of the awful things that happened there. So many young people killed. The picture is very serene. And the interaction between the woman and the cow was so special. It looks as if they are alone in the world.  A great moment which I never will forget!”

Omaha Beach

The Bullvine Bottom Line: Aim High

Han has discovered much wisdom from his chosen breed and chosen career. “There are so many small lessons I have learned through the years. The biggest one is that it is better to cooperate with your competitors than to compete with them.” That’s a lesson we can all benefit from. However Han feels his greatest life lessons are owed to his friend. “Jan Bierma, taught me what friendship means and from him I learned the passion to make a magazine.”  As they head into their third successful decade, we thank Han for sharing with the Bullvine.  “All the best as you continue to aim HI.”


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