7 Tips to get the best farm photos

Functional or Fancified?

By: Jenny Schweigert

Photography and the outdoors are two passions which have followed me through most of life. I’ve been taking pictures for as long as I can remember and the majority of this time was spent behind a point and shoot camera. Whether I’m shooting with a P&S or my fancified Canon, farms and ranches lend so many photogenic opportunities putting this subject at the top of favorites to photograph. Its about representing the everyday processes, machinery, a blade of wheat grass, the birth of a calf, the planting of sweet corn, herding a lone cow, harvesting soybeans and overall, honoring a legacy.  Whether its a P&S camera or a Nikon, pictures are waiting to be captured and stories told. With this said, I’ve had my insecurities about what I can and cannot capture. Will my photos qualify for award status? Measure up to others? Are these photos good enough to be used in blog posts?

tractor, #agchat, photograhry

Source: Jenny Schweigert

Recently, it was brought to my attention that my P&S hesitation, among others, is shared by others. Here is a list of items which touches on dissolving some possible issues:

1.)  Convenience. Although popular, the DSLR isn’t necessarily the best tool for farm/ranch photography. While you can produce fantastic photos, they tend to be bulky and therefore inconvenient for toting around the tractor. Not to mention the dust and blowing debris. In my experience, you have to be realistic rather than being enticed towards perfection through the lens of a DSLR. I think you too will find that a functional camera will capture your farm just as well as a fancy camera!

farm, tractor, agriculture, #agchat, photography

Source: Jenny Schweigert

3.) Read the manual. Read the manual. Read the manual. While all cameras may seem the same, each has its own quarks. Even a P&S. Its important to know if the camera has a special setting for whatever it is you want to do, especially when you are in the field. Cows are like kids; when the opportunity presents itself, you need to be ready.

4.) Opportunity costs. Photography on the farm comes with its hurdles. Most obvious being a window of opportunity. When the good stuff is happening you are usually right in the thick of it limiting that window. We all know that time is money. So you can choose to take a little time off or incorporate those opportunities into your work (easier said than done). Always carry the camera with you and take advantage of situations like equipment breakdowns. Grab the camera while you wait for the milker to finish up or bring it out for the birth of a calf. Remember, sharing your story will increase support of farmers and ranchers, alike.

farm, field, agriculture, #agchat, photography

Source: Jenny Schweigert

5.) Think outside the camera. Experiment with different angles and aspects. Try laying on the ground to capture a row of corn; having spent considerable time testing the technique, I have found it to be a whole new world. Ruminate on photographing atop your horse when herding cows or give a cotton plant a diagonal view. Don’t be afraid to try a new perspective-You’ll find that your photos will have more dimension, making the photo more interesting for your readers.

farm, field, agriculture, photography

Source: Jenny Schweigert

6.) Understand your flash. One of the most frustrating things about P&S cameras is the flash. In an effort to produce a small but exceptional product a P&S camera tends to be small. Which means your flash is close to the lens which over exposes the photo. My recommendation would be to ditch the flash altogether and work with the natural light.

7.) Stability. This isn’t quite as important for P&S cameras. If you are using DSLR this is key if your lens does not have a stabilizer. Brace yourself against a wall, door or whatever is nearby. Concentrate on your breathing so that you snap the picture in between breaths. And, relax.

Whatever the hurdle, let’s help America understand where their food comes from by starting with shooting pictures of your experiences. Grab your camera, seize the day and become a story teller. After you grab that camera, let us know other hurdles you are looking to conquer.

Jenny, aka, The Magic Mama, lives with her amazing husband, three crazy boys & three loyal dogs on an old farmstead in rural Illinois. The farmstead comes complete with a circa 1880‘s farmhouse & small hobby farm where the family raises chickens, steers, ducks & two pet goats. Jenny blogs at http://www.themagicfarmhouse.com/

April 24th, 2012 – AgChat on Planting choices

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April 17th, 2012 – FoodChat on Where Does Your Food Come From?

Where does your food come from?Food Comes From Someplace Food is everywhere and yet where does it come from? Consumers see food stacked and organized in groceries and restaurants magically bring the food from the kitchen. But food has to come from someplace, doesn’t it? This FoodChat aims to help consumers understand the origins of food and help farmers learn more about consumer’s questions.
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AgChat Foundation is Hiring Communications Assistant

We are excited to to announce that we are hiring a communications assistant to join our team.

AgChat Foundation, Inc

Communications Assistant

Job Description

Mission: To empower farmers and ranchers to connect communities through social media platforms.

The AgChat Foundation is designed to help those who produce food, fuel, fiber and feed tell agriculture’s story from their point of view. The Foundation educates and equips farmers and ranchers with the skill sets needed to effectively engage on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, YouTube and other social media platforms.

Description:The AgChat Foundation (ACF) is seeking a self motivated individual to serve as a communications assistant. This position works directly with the farmer, rancher and agribusiness volunteers of the organization and reports to the executive director. The position will be broken down into two key areas of focus.


  • Assist with daily social media interactions, including but not limited to: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and blog. This includes posting status updates, tweets and replying to questions and comments.
  • Work with board members and volunteers to produce, create/write and publish content on blog.
  • Website updating as needed.

Event and Training Planning

  • Assist with the planning and logistics of the ACF Agvocacy 2.0 Training Conference.
  • Assist with developing promotional materials for ACF events
  • Work with volunteers to implement special projects such as: webinars, e-newsletters, outreach, social media campaigns.


  • Must have experience using social media platforms including but not limited to: WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+,  Pinterest.
  • Must have the ability to work remotely.
  • Must have good proofreading skills.
  • Some knowledge of the agriculture industry is desired.
  • Access to and knowledge of desktop publishing software such as InDesign, Quark or Photoshop is desired.
  • Must be able to attend ACF’s Agvocacy 2.0 Training Conference August 22-24 in Kansas City, MO.

Location: Working Remotely. Candidate must have access to their own computer, internet connection, and mobile phone.

Pay: This position is a contract position. The contractor must be able to dedicate 10 to 20 hours per week to this position. Please submit a detailed draft contract with pay expectations when applying.

Interested applicants need to send a resume, draft contract, references and two samples of writing or a link to a digital portfolio or blog to the ACF executive director, Emily Zweber, at execdir@agchat.org by April 23, 2012. Please direct questions to Emily Zweber at execdir@agchat.org or 651-341-0430.

April 10th, 2012 – AgChat on Young Farmers and Startup Businesses

Young Farmers and Startup BusinessesYoung Farmers and Startup Businesses How does one get started in agriculture as a business? What are some of the issues and where does one turn for advice? This #AgChat conversation looks toward those with some experience in running farm and ranch operation for some advice and input.
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