The Importance of Making a Cow Look Her Best

“There are no instructions on how to take cow pictures,” says photographer Jack Remsberg. “I used what I had learned about cow judging and conformation. It’s like being a portrait photographer; you just try to help a cow look her best.”

Remsberg ought to know: he took more than 50,000 pictures of cows in a five-decade career as one of the country’s busiest cattle photographers.

Remsberg, who was recently interviewed by Lancaster Farming, has written a memoir of his career called Cow-Pic, which can be purchased from Remsberg’s Web site.

Remsberg, a former dairy farmer and self-taught photographer, began taking photographs of cattle in 1953 for advertising and promotional purposes. As his talents became known,

increasing numbers of neighboring dairy breeders and exhibitors contacted him requesting photographs of their sale consignments and show winners. Often, Remsberg would help with milking morning and evening, drive off to photograph cows in between, and then develop the prints in his basement darkroom late into the night.

He went on to shoot countless cattle shows along the East Coast and even in far-flung locations like Bogota, Columbia.

Remsberg retired in 2006 and expresses concern about the future of the cattle photography business. He believes digital manipulation of images is compromising the business’ integrity.

Says Remsberg:

In recent years a vast majority of published cattle photographs give the impression that genetic type traits may or may not have been altered … One photographer related to me that if he does not use certain “methods” when picturing cattle for various clients, he will lose business. So where does the question of integrity lie — with the photographers, with the owners, or with bull stud personnel? Who can police the situation?

Despite his concerns about the profession, he offers this timeless advice for those who would follow in his footsteps: “Cattle are like people … No two are alike in personality. You need to learn their personalities if you’re going to work with them.”

[tags]Jack Remsberg, cattle photography, Photoshop[/tags]

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