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Photographer Laurens Rutten “A Rising Star”

Laurens Rutten is only 19 years old but, already, he has garnered recognition in the world of dairy photography. He is both humbled and amazed at what he has achieved in under three years. “Whenever I see one of my photos passing (on the Internet or in magazines), I look back with a heart full of passion. They all contributed tremendously to my incredible journey.”

Little Laurens

Laurens Got His Start with Dad and Dairy Shows

Since he was a child, cows have always been part of Laurens’ life. “My dad has always been actively involved in the dairy industry. He has been the best mentor I could wish for to teach me about the business.” Laurens explains how broad that exposure was. “Back then my dad used to fit a lot of cows in Belgium and sell semen. I regularly went with him to the cow shows and farms to see my dad clipping and showing lots of his own cows/heifers.” Very soon Laurens took a more active part. “When I was six years old (2001), I participated for the very first time in a junior showmanship competition in Battice, Belgium.” That was the start. “After my first experience in the ring, I was so passionate about cows that it kept on growing.”

Dad and I2

Setting Up for Success

Not every dairy photographer starts in the show ring however Laurens has a good foundation there. “In 2004 I became reserve champion handler in Battice and Champion handler in Roeselare (Biggest showmanship competition in the Flemish part). I continuously kept participating at shows, my lifetime highlight in showing was at the European Young Breeders School in Battice, Belgium with my team “Flanders Future”. I ended up 3rd in my class of the showmanship competition, 2nd in the class of the best participators under 16, 3rd with our team and eventually a 14th placement in total out of the 125 participants.”

Roccafarm Windbrook Zaninda

Valued Training

Although he is very young, Laurens already recognizes the importance of getting dairy experience. “Besides showing and helping at shows, I have been doing training during my summer holidays in order to improve my knowledge about cows, travel abroad and improve my languages. I started doing this at an age of 13 years old. Currently, I have trained in Belgium, France, Switzerland, Spain and Italy. My first training was at the well know Italian Farm M.E.dal Farm Ladina in Pandino. When I was 15, I did training at Ruegruet Holsteins where I was able to work with some of Switzerland’s best-known cows such as Mox Kite Maryrose. For the last four years, I have been to Spain to farms such as Ganaderia CID, Ganaderia Blanco, Ganaderia La Benera. All of them have been very successful in the show ring with cows such as James Gretta, James Rosalia and Pebi.” One other thing stands out for Laurens in this list of valued achievements.” I was one of the first 3 members in the junior panel of Holstein International.” He describes this experience of having the opportunity to share his opinions about dairy topics in one word – “Awesome!”


Laurens Begins His Quest for the Very Best

It isn’t surprising to learn that Laurens has always sought out something different. “I was looking for a new challenge besides showing cattle and helping at the shows, so I thought, why not start taking photos and showing my passion through them?” He describes his mindset at the time “I want to make the best photos of the best cows in the world” He immediately took steps to achieve his goal. “I bought myself a professional camera. I bought iPhoto on my IPad and started visiting international shows to seek out the best cows in the world.”

Butz Butler Gold Barbara back

Reaping Recognition from the Right Shot at the Right Time

Part of Laurens’ always-ready-attitude, relates to technology. “I always carried an IPad with me where I always saved side photos of the best cows in the world.” This was a significant undertaking. “I remember having around 800 photos of cows and heifers of which I could nearly name all of them by name, classification results and show results.” His very focused passion paid off. “During my visit at the National Show of Italy in Cremona (2012) I shot a couple of photos for fun. Afterwards I published 2 of my photos on my Facebook profile and got instant reaction from M.E.dal farm Ladina which used them in an ad and were also used by an All-Breeds dairy magazine in it as their show result. This resulted into massive support and positive comments from lots and lots of people. This was the start of Laurens Rutten Photography.” reports this young entrepreneur.

Voorpagina Hotspots kopie

From Covering the Shows to Capturing the Cover Shot

Laurens describes what happened next. “Things got serious when I took photos at the European championship: Afterwards I made a Facebook page and published a series of photos. Hotspots contacted me to see if I had a photo which would fit for their front cover. I couldn’t find a photo until I looked in my garbage can on my computer. There I found a great photo of O’Kalibra that would later become one of my most seen and famous photos ever!” That was just the beginning. “I have had many fantastic opportunities since providing them with that Jun2013 Hotspots cover.”  Including covering World Dairy Expo and Swiss Expo and many sales.” Things were moving quickly for the young man who was a high school student at that time. ‘I decided for myself to try and cover only the biggest shows or the shows, which were during the holidays to stay focused on my studies.’


Laurens Has Favorite Shots in a Growing Portfolio

Photographer Laurens is passionate about which of his photos are his favorites. I absolutely love two of the early photos that I made of O’Kalibra. I still get goose bumps when looking back at the great moments captured in these pictures. These photos truly gave me tears in the eyes the first time I saw them!  I find them to be so special!” He appreciates what it means to him and his future “It gives me great pride I had this chance to capture this amazing cow in this amazing setting. Both photos just show the fantastic quality of O’Kalibra all the way through combined with the great atmosphere of the European show.”

Laurens "The Pretzel" Rutten

Laurens “The Pretzel” Rutten

Young Talent Nurtured by Family

One has to ask how such talent seems to blossom overnight.  Laurens attributes it to his parents Karel Rutten and Anne-lies. “My parents have been the persons, best friends and mentors who have helped me so much in my life and are the reason for where I am today. My dad has a huge network, which helped me tremendously to build up my own network. Besides, without him I would probably never have done anything with cows. Everything I know about cows to preparing and showing cattle is because of him, and I am so happy we share the same passion. Whenever we are together, we talk about it and share our opinions about the dairy industry. My mom has been a great help giving feedback on my work making me more critical and making me more aware of details. Their support has been outstanding, and I cannot thank them enough for what they have done for me and for what they have meant to me in this story.”

1st side photo

Building an International Network of Support

Laurens’ passion and experience continue to grow thanks to the wonderful mentors, advisors and friends that he hasThrough Karen Knutsen I was able to cover my first show, which was the European show. Thanks to her trust I had the incredible opportunity of photographing Europe’s best cows. Thanks to Eurogenes – Holstein Plaza – Hotspots and the people behind these companies such as Jan de Vries, Arjan Van Der Vlis, Jennifer Dingbaum, and Steve Mower.  They have been terrific supporters of my work and were one of the first ones back then that had confidence in my work even though I was rather unknown as a photographer.” Laurens also credits others who helped him to grow his network. “Another person that comes to mind is Isaac Lancaster, who introduced me to Andrew Hunt of The Bullvine. Andrew has been a fantastic help for me with his advice and trust in my work. The Bullvine commissions most of the shows I currently cover for which I am gratefully thankful for.” Laurens continues to hone is photography skills. “Giorgio Soldi has been a great mentor to me on the photography side, through him I learned more about cow photography. Especially on the branch of side photography he has shared incredible amounts of knowledge with me. I had the chance to photograph with him one week during one of his trips in France.”

Ribs Swiss Expo

Capturing the Excitement and Mystique of Showrings around the World

Laurens is enthusiastic about the opportunity to photograph elite dairy shows such as the European Championship and World Dairy Expo. “To me it is a great honor being part of these kinds of shows. It gives me an enormous amount of pride and satisfaction. Both shows are different from each other and are both in their own way a tremendous experience for every dairy photographer.” He explains. “At World Dairy Expo there is the quality of the cows each class all the way through and the way it is organised is beyond excellent.” Laurens especially likes the atmospheric touch, which brings his loyalties close to home. “The European Championship and Swiss Expo are a true must for every dairy enthusiast who loves to see a great show, quality and atmosphere wise.” He particularly loves the great atmosphere of Swiss Expo. “For me it the most epic show I have ever covered. The atmosphere is so special, and the cows are from tremendous quality.”

Laurens Crazy Cow

Laurens Enjoys the Insiders’ Perspective on the Show Ring

As his global experiences have mount up, so has his appreciation for the dairy show ring. “I have noticed that you get a better view of the cows when you are photographing them. Especially at shows like World Dairy Expo or European Championships as the rings are so big.” However, he admits his enthusiasm isn’t only about the photography. “I notice that whenever I am in the ring, I start judging the cows myself to see if I have a true match with the judge. On the other hand, I feel useless whenever I sit and watch the show, I always get the urge to jump in the ring and start making photos of potential winners.”


Laurens is ready for Future Challenges

It isn’t surprising that Laurens is looking to challenges ahead. They may come at University where the 19 year old is currently studying International Agribusiness and Trade in his first year at the University of Applied Sciences Van Hall Larenstein in Wageningen. Here too he has set a goal. “I would like to specialize myself in commodity trading and all the aspects that come in mind to this such as logistics.”  His attitude is positive. “I look forward to what and where the future will still bring me. I look back with great pride and emotion on what I have achieved so far. It has been a tremendous, and I have enjoyed every second of it. On the way, I have been able to meet so many great new people from all over the globe and build up an international network. I am truly honored and thankful that I have had the chance to travel already so much to photograph at some of the best shows along with the best cows in the world.

Medal Stormatic Ilma

The Bullvine Bottom Line

This has indeed been a whirlwind ride for Laurens and the Bullvine, and our readers join in wishing him all the best as he continues to shoot for the top in studies, cameras+ and cows!

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