Career Profile: Agricultural Photographer

A picture is worth a thousand words, and for Emily Goins capturing some of cattle showman’s best moments is a privilege for her. Emily is a junior at Western Kentucky University where she is majoring in Recreation Administration, but in her spare time she is a photographer for The Bullvine magazine at the major dairy shows around the country including World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin.

For Emily, photography has always been a passion and one of her dreams while growing up in 4-H and FFA. 

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“I grew up in the show cattle industry and enjoyed taking photos of my friends and family showing. I loved the feedback I got from my Facebook friends so I kept taking more and more photos and now I do dairy cattle show photography, senior photos, and I’ve done a couple of weddings.”

Even with no formal training, except for a brief stint in photojournalism at WKU, Emily emphasizes the need to share your work and build connections. 

“I think experience and making connections within the industry would most prepare someone for a career within this field. I was lucky to already be involved in the dairy industry for many years before my passion was ignited for capturing show photos.”

Photography can be a hard career with lots of long days shooting events, followed up with edits that can take days. The industry isn’t always for the faint of heart explains Emily. 

“To be successful in this career I would definitely say that you need to have a thick skin and not be afraid to tell people no. You also need to be very organized and be good at time management.”

Some of her favorite moments while on the job also happen to be some of the best moments in people’s lives. 

“My absolute favorite part of show photography is getting to be hidden behind the scenes and capture very monumental moments of families and friends. My favorite photo that I have ever taken was of a father son duo giving each other a high five after the young boy and his Guernsey were names Junior Champion Guernsey of the junior show at the 2017 World Dairy Expo.”

Her passion for dairy cattle is what made her stand out from the rest.

“The photography skills can always be taught, but the passion for your subject must be something that comes from within yourself.”

Most students might think in order to get started you must have expensive equipment. To Emily, there are no limitations to start capturing moments.

“It doesn’t matter if you use your iPhone or the most expensive equipment available, if you have the passion and skill to take photos, go for it. If you’re lucky enough, people might even pay you to take photos of them.”

By: Carilynn Coombs