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Don Schindler

Executive Reputation Coach & Digital Marketer

Tag: top ten

10 Photography Tips for Farmers and Foodies

I recently taught a couple of workshops on photography and videography for beginners to some of our communicators. It’s amazing how advanced technology allows us to produce good photography by just knowing some of the basics.

Now does this mean that you will never need a professional photographer – absolutely not! Professionals have thousands of hours of training and can see things that you and I would never catch. And I don’t claim to be an expert at this at all. I’m just passing along the basics that I’ve learned and that I believe will help you capture better photos while you are on the farm or at the restaurant/market.

Here are 10 tips that I’ve picked up on photography – I hope they help you out.

1. Lighting is everything.

You need good lighting. What makes good lighting? Indirect natural sunlight is awesome. Then after that sunlight. Gray days can be really good as well because they will make the shadows less harsh.


Photo courtesy of Jalal Hameed Bhatti via Flickr Creative Commons



Check out the natural light vs. the in-camera flash on food. It can make the food look unnatural or look like it’s floating in space. Look how much texture gets blown out because of the light source.


Photo courtesy of The Serious Eats Team

I loved the article on “Beginner’s Guide to Food Photography” from The Serious Eats Team and I recommend you check it out.

2. Look at the background first and add depth if you can.


Photo courtesy of Dennis Jarvis via Flickr Creative Commons

This photo is great because it has serious depth, but he’s also using diagonals to drive your eye to the beautiful trees in the slight right of the center of the photo. Instead of being right up on the buildings, it’s great to walk away and look at them from different angles to see the uniques shapes and lines the photograph is producing.


3. The Rule of Thirds helps your composition.


The Rule of Thirds courtesy of The Serious Eats Team

The Rule of Thirds is laying out the composition or elements of your photograph along the intersecting lines of the nine boxes created by the grid. Where did you find a grid? Well with most phones and cameras, you can turn on the grid in the camera settings.  This will help you align the subject of your photograph along these lines.


4. The eye loves textures and patterns – getting close can help you see them.


Photo courtesy of Geraint Rowland via Flickr Creative Commons

Focusing in on your subjects can produce some amazing shots especially with animals (that people normally don’t get too close to). I love the patterns of the fur and foreground grass in juxtaposition to the background signs. You can also see the Rule of Thirds here as well with the off set subject but the dominate eye almost in the center.


5. With food, you have control over how to dress it up and style it.


Photo courtesy of The Serious Eats Team

The Serious Eats Team does an amazing job of showcasing how they dress up this plate of chili. I would recommend going over and reading the entire article. What I took from the article was how much control you have over the food. It’s worth the time to invest to get a good shot of the food.


6. Use diagonal lines to guide the eyes.


Photo courtesy of Berit Watkin via Flickr Creative Commons

The diagonals of this picture are fairly obvious just like the picture above but I would also take note of the gaze of the animals as well and you can see how their gaze with the diagonals drive the eye to the center of the picture.


7. Use natural frames to frame your subjects.


Photo courtesy of MFer Photography via Flickr Creative Commons

Here’s a great photo that uses a natural frame as well as symmetry and patterns. You can definitely see the subjects (close to Rule of Thirds) framed by the building’s doors and then off set by the lean-to shed on the right. Great composition here.


8. Symmetry is pleasing to the eye.


Photo courtesy of George Thomas via Flickr Creative Commons

You can see with this photo that the building is almost dead center and looks symmetrical even with the missing boards. But one thing you probably didn’t notice is the natural framing – do you see the two birds at the top. Great composition.


9. Rules are meant to be broken.


Photo courtesy of The Serious Eats Team

There was a rule a while back about plating food on blue plates because it would make the food pop! That’s not true. It really depends on the food itself and the angle of how you shoot it. Here is a great example of food being placed in a natural flowing way on plates that put emphasis on the food and how the eye is moving around them. And it’s also cheese! Yay, cheese! Great composition by The Serious Eats team.


10. Take lots of photos – you’ll make mistakes but that’s ok.


Photos courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

When it comes to good photography, being intentional is very important with your shots but don’t kill yourself over one photo. Take lots and lots of them and sort through the ones you don’t like. That’s what is so awesome about today’s technology. Get lots of practices, definitely take a few classes if you have time and keep producing those amazing photos.

If you have tip you want to share, feel free to leave a comment or email me at don.schindler (at) gmail.

If you want to use my deck, you can download it from Slideshare.




What should you be posting on Facebook Farm Page? Top ten tips on what you should post to Facebook.


What does the other 98% think about farming?

So if you know that most of today’s U.S. population is disconnected from farming, then giving them an inside view is important. Notice, I didn’t say “educate” them on farming – it’s not what they want and definitely not how they want to hear it.

They want to be insiders on how farming works and they want to know farmers (farmers are still one of the most respected industries in the nation – check out the latest Gallup Poll) so they can ask questions directly.

When you look at it from their point of view, what do you think they would like to know?

How cows are milked? How hay is cut? What do dairy cows eat? Where do they sleep? How long after the milk leaves the farm does it take to get to my house? Are dairy cows treated well?

You can answer these types of questions easily. But instead of just answering, think of showing them and telling them a story around the answer.

If you’ve got your smartphone with you, then think of how you would answer questions on farm life using photos and videos.

Here’s a top ten list of things to post on your Facebook Farm page…

1. Post photos of farm life

Photos are half of all posts on Facebook and are the top shared posts. If you want your status update to be shared a lot, your best shot is with a photo.  Table Rock Farm and Hahn-Way Holsteins does a great job of showcasing a photo with insider information.


Top Tip – use a photo program like picmonkey.com or Over app for your phone to put text or your farm’s logo on the picture. This keeps it from being misused or stolen and it helps your brand.


2. Post videos of farm life

Videos are the next best thing to a photo and you can get more of the story of what you are doing. The only problem with video is that it takes more effort from the user to actually get the story. YouTube is the most shared website on Facebook so if you can put together a short video (2 min) then you’ve got a good shot at getting your message across.  Dairygood posted several videos on sustainability and dairy farming.


3. Answer questions without them asking

If you ever want to know what people are searching for answers, simply use the Facebook search or a Google search and read the autocompletes. These are the top searches in your region.


Type in your search and see what Google displays for you – make sure you log out of Google.

4. Get fans to engage and participate

You can ask people to help name calves, give them insight into how does modern farm equipment works, or just let them know what happened today on the farm.

This post by Dairy Carrie does a great job at getting people involved with naming a calf and showing how calves look when they are born.


5. Give farm tours virtually

LeCows Dairy gives insight into silage, what it is and why they use it along with photos to engage people.  This takes time but the engagement is high and people love it.



The Farmer’s Life also gets a question in this picture asking about what these tractors are used for.  It’s a great way to answer a question and engage someone not familiar with farming.

6. Ask them what they want to know.

Sometimes all you have to do is ask and people will let you know what they want to know.  Now you will always have people that will be distractors.  The main thing here is to engage when people really want to know vs. people just trying to get you to fight.  If that happens, you can check out this post on arguments and what to do.


7. Share the best photos, videos, status updates from other farm pages.

When Redhead Creamery started its kickstarter campaign, they needed help from everyone – including other farm pages to spread the word.  Dairy Carrie stepped up to help and got the word out.  I’m sure Redhead Creamery will return the favor.  This should be the Golden Rule for all farmers on facebook.  Help spread the word and it will come back to you.


8. Treat other pages like your page – post comments and share on their walls.

When Al Roker of the Today Show visited the Hatcher Family Dairy,  DairyGood tagged them in the post to let them know that they were talking about them on Facebook.  This also encourages the other pages to comment, like or share the post.


Tagging other pages lets them know that you are talking about them.

9. Be active at least once a day

It’s hard to argue when you are getting information directly from the source.


If you can post more than that, it’s ok. Just don’t go too crazy.

10. When you share on your page, make sure to share on your profile as well.

So should be a no-brainer, but many people fail to do it.  You can easily switch to your page and then back to your profile via the desktop version of facebook.  With the Facebook Page Application, you can do it on your phone as well.

Ray Prock of Ray-Lin Dairy is very good at pushing his blog posts through Twitter, his Facebook Page and his personal Facebook profile right after a post.


BONUS TIP – Use hashtags to reach new people

Will Gilmer of Gilmer Dairy uses the hashtag #dairy to reach people who may be using Facebook’s hashtag search to find out more about what people are talking about when they talk about dairy.  Don’t use more than three hashtags per post.


So what are your best practices for posting on your family farm page?  I would love to add them here.

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