Photo by Isabel Grudowski, 2013
Beautiful, vibrant photos of your farm or apiary are some of your most important marketing tools. They serve as powerful visuals everywhere from your online marketing strategy to banners, business cards, and postcards.
We often rely too much on the intern who’s “good with cameras” or the friend who can stop by sometime with their new iphone. But the best photos come from people with amazing cameras and talent.
You might be wondering...I take great photos on my smartphone...so why do I need better photos than that? The answer is twofold: 1) you might need to print your photos, and your phone’s photos won’t print very well and 2) you never know when someone will ask for a high-resolution photo, but if you’re doing cool things, chances are someone will ask!
Moon Dog Farms in Texas found an affordable, fun way to get high-quality photos of their farm by inviting high school photography students to their farm a few times a year. We thought that sounded like the perfect partnership, so we asked farmer Casey MacAuffle about it. Here’s what she had to say:
Q: How did you come up with the idea to invite student photographers out to the farm?
A: Our relationship with the high-school photographers came about after we were featured in a local magazine story only a few months after we arrived. I had reached out to the editor of the magazine announcing our presence and letting her know we were open to be a part of any stories they were cooking up. The photographer for the project happened to be a well-known local photographer involved with lots of different publications and who also heads up a photography workshop as part of a huge summer camp program put on by Texas A&M Galveston called SeaCamp.
When we first met, we chatted about collaborating in the future and he mentioned he was always looking for new sites to take his kiddos. After putting together liability release forms and some documents telling kids what to bring (closed-toed shoes, water bottles,etc.), we were all set. He now brings about 3-4 groups out to the farm a year, and it only takes about an hour max.
Q: What do your photography days look like?
A: The kids walk around, I give them a brief tour and we talk flowers, foods and insects. Alex, my partner, runs and hides from them until it's "portrait time" and then we stand and sweat like boneheads for 5 minutes while teenagers snap away. It's a lovely partnership--they have much better cameras than I'll ever want and I get great photos for marketing and they get an interesting tableau to shoot. And, we teach a few more young folks about farming and make them squish stink bugs. :)
Q: Do you have any advice for CNG farmers who might want to replicate this program?
A: My advice for getting a similar relationship like this would be as follows:
Start by reaching out to local summer camps or workshops. They might be through a community college, a smaller organization or a large institution, like the one we work with. Extend an invitation to your farm if they ever need a new location for nature/portrait/light play/etc. shoots.
Along that vein, reach out to any photography teachers at local schools (high schools, private schools, colleges, etc.). In our experience, they always need ideas for inexpensive, easily-accessible but out-of-the-ordinary landscapes and intriguing stories that can be told through the lens. What better than a farm?
If ever featured in a local magazine/newspaper and a photographer pays a visit, chat them up! So many of the folks we've met in that business freelance and patch together lots of different gigs, and they're also eager to know of a different opportunity (ie using your farm) that they can offer future paying customers.