A while ago I was on the phone with my dad, and he told me he had just finished photographing cows with Frank Robinson.
There are a number of magazines, catalogues, and advertisements that require livestock to look their best, and so professional photographers are called in. And Hawarden Jerseys has used Frank Robinson for as long as I can remember. He is after all the expert “bovine beautician,” according to an article by California Bountiful.
For those unfamiliar with cow modeling, I hope this post will help you get an idea of what it takes to glam up a cow.
First, a farmer selects which of his cows should model. I’ll write more later about what makes a cow beautiful by farmer standards, but for now understand that some are better than others.
Second, it’s not a one person job. You need the photographer, the farmer, and some extra helpers.
The cow is groomed. It’s coat trimmed to give it a nice shine. Everything is cleaned because no one wants to pay money for a photo of a dirty cow. They’re gross. Hooves are trimmed. And the fake tail attached. (Think of a wig atop a pageant toddler’s head.)
The team sets up the cow per the photographer’s experienced eye. The feet have to be placed just so because as with selfie takers, angle is everything. One person holds the cow’s head with a halter.
And if the cow would hold still and look at the camera, all would be over soon. But with exception, cows are camera shy. They move their feet out of position. They get nervous.
Hopefully, the helpers are good because it is in these moments that they need to shine—or grunt. Yes, sometimes they are called on to make loud and strange grunting noises to get the cow’s attention. They might also hold some hay, playing the hungry cow card, or they might bring out a young calf for the matronly cow to look at. Once we used a goat.
The photos are later edited. Often transposed to a pretty scene. Then the final pictures are sent to the proud farmer.