Photographing picture-perfect pigs is about as easy as trying to say photographing picture-perfect pigs ten times fast; not very. Wrangling baby pigs to photograph is often the hardest part of the business. Here are some of the secrets from the experts in the business to help you get the perfect shot.
Carl Kent with Kent and Sons said the key to the perfect shot is two-fold. It starts with, 1) having nice pigs in your barn to picture, and 2) have the pigs gentle prior to picturing. Kent suggests spending time playing with them in their pen, and introducing them to tools you use during photographing sessions. His top picks for tools are sticks and pipes with a flag or rag on the end with tasty things on them.
All of Aaron Cobb’s, with Steve Cobb & Family Farm, secrets have to do with keeping the pigs comfortable. While photographing, Cobb suggests picturing the pigs in pairs and picturing them in their own pen. Having a buddy while they are being photographed helps them from getting scared, and keeping their surroundings familiar keeps them feeling comfortable, making it easy to capture a great shot. Most importantly, Cobb warns to have LOTS and LOTS of patience. It just might pay off, Cobb said, to try and try again.
Troy Sloan, Team Sloan Livestock thinks that the most important part of picturing is sometimes the hardest – finding the time. “Finding enough time to get the perfect picture of every prospect can seem nearly impossible but it’s an absolute must. I recommend setting aside 15 minutes per pig to get the ideal picture. I realize this may seem excessive to some but the difference between a poor or average picture and a good picture can be hundreds or even thousands of dollars!” He thinks good lighting is a definite must but so a flash doesn’t have to be used, but had one other gem to share , “I don’t know anything about cameras except that you need one that takes like ten pictures a second – machine gun style!”
Mike McCoy, from Real McCoy Genetics, said the most important part of picture taking is making sure the pigs are familiar with the people photographing them. He suggests the more you handle them the easier your job will be. Anything from washing and brushing them, to letting them look at you in the aisle helps them become more familiar with you.
Another pre photo shoot tip, McCoy shared was tying shop rags smeared with marshmallow paste on them to the pigs’ pens twice a day for three days prior to picturing. McCoy said it helps to get them accustomed to the taste and then use the rags during the photo shoot.
Jordan Leatherman, Final Drive Genetics, feels the biggest key is preparation. He spends 7-10 days prior to the actual shoot getting the pigs ready to be pictured. “The first few days we will sit in the pen and simply work on calming the pigs down. Once that is accomplished, we will work for several days on them letting us brush them down and conditioning their skin and hair. The last several days prior to picture day we will let the pigs out of their pen and take them to the picture pen to get use to the environment they will be in on picture day. As anything, it takes tweaking and adjusting depending on the group of pigs. If you want picture day to go more smoothly and get the right pictures, it takes preparation and work in advance.”
Ryan Stohlquist of Stohlquist Showpigs has just one piece of advice – patience and a forgiving wife!
Hopefully these experts’ secrets to the shots will help you as you photograph your next set in preparation for sale day.