Greetings from Farmer Tom.
One of my tasks at the farm is managing the various social media channels for the farm, and create most of the content for them. This involves a fair amount of photography to augment telling the farm’s story via imagery. From a single elective class for Photography that I took in college, I never thought I’d be offering tips on what I have found to be successful in photography!
Since one of my roles as a Farm Manager is maintaining our facilities, I am familiar with the numerous landscape locations on the farm property that can make beautiful photos at sunset, or a scene that is great in winter time versus summer; but I’m not walking around with expensive cameras or lenses waiting to capture them.
It may surprise some to learn that all of my photo images and videos are taken with my mobile phone while I’m on the move doing other things. Using an image from my mobile device allows it’s quick utilization on any of our social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube, etc). Many of the images on our website were drawn from this pool of photos taken over the years with a simple phone.
I use a 2013 model Motorola Moto X, which has a pure-Android based operating system. I use the built-in phone app which has numerous ways to capture an image digitally, such as panoramic mode, or with a depth of focus (see below photo). Knowing your imaging tool and it’s capabilities is important, be that an SLR camera or simply your phone.
I believe in creating authentic imagery to illustrate the farm’s activities. I don’t put filters upon or photoshop any image just to make it look better. I don’t sugar coat it: If it’s a grey day on the strawberry patch – you will know that. If it’s a bright sunny day – you will know that too (and don’t forget your sunscreen!). The only changes I make to imagery is when I “mock-up” photos to overlay text or logos to better inform or watermark the image (see below).
So, a couple of things that I consider when trying to get a good shot.
- I try to be thoughtful in what I’m trying to communicate. Is it the natural beauty of the farm’s surroundings? Is the subject matter of a crop that is currently in season? Is there an experience component that would be enticing to feel in person? I could be taking photos for a training manual, or documenting a scene for later analysis in order to improve the presentation of a setting in the following year.
- Photography at it’s core is capturing light. Light at a lower point in the sky (dawn or dusk) is less harsh on the subject (plants, people, landscape). A clear day in winter will have less haze to effect a long distance panorama than a humid summer day. Where will the shadows fall.
- Focus on the subject. Taking a group photo of individuals, doesn’t always require them to be centered in the frame. Sometimes, off to the side, or from on high can work quite well. Consider experimenting with depth of focus so that elements in the distance are out-of-focus.
- Remember the background. Are their shadows that fall into your photo’s frame? Are their other individuals or movements in the background that distract from your subject.