The Biggest Mistake I Made as a Livestock Photographer


Someone asked me recently what the biggest mistake I ever made as a livestock photographer was. I assume they expected me to answer with a hilarious story about cattle handling gone wrong, and while I have made more than a few of those mistakes, picture pen wrecks weren't even close to the first thing on my mind.


The biggest mistake I ever made was believing that my job was to make animals look ideal in their photograph. Since every animal is not ideal, I taught myself to become an exceptional editor. In fact, I'd put my editing skills up against anyone in the industry. If you can do it to a photo, I've done it, and even better (or worse) I know how to hide it from you. 

Luckily for me, I had the good fortune of meeting some exceptional cattlemen with some exceptional livestock that helped me learn to appreciate my role as a photographer in a new light. I learned that my job was not to make every animal look perfect, but to document the positive qualities I saw in each animal and to represent those animals and the people who owned them in the best light possible. 

A good stockman can tell good from bad. A great stockman appreciates the work it takes just to get a live animal to sale day, and they appreciate that animal for whatever it really is, whether they're weighing 'em up, or worth their weight in gold. 

 My livestock online photography course launches this February. Join our mailing list below to receive updates and weekly photography tips. 

 B.J. Eick is the Founder of Learn Livestock, the Founder and C.E.O. of Herdmark Media, Inc., a writer, photographer, and filmmaker with a passion for animal agriculture. You can contact B.J. directly here. 

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