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Take a Perfect Picture

08:10AM Jan 03, 2015

Tips to take better photos and videos on your farm

A picture says a thousand words. A video—it’s hard to say exactly, but surely the effect is exponential. Farmers are discovering that a beautiful farm photo or video is a great way to get a conversation going. You don’t necessarily need to be a seasoned professional to get decent results.

As with any task, a smart first step is defining your purpose and setting goals, says Doug Armknecht, who has shot multiple harvest videos for his in-laws on their family farm in north-central Kansas.

“Do you want to produce pictures or video?” he says. “If pictures, you can do quick snapshots with your iPhone that will be sufficient for sharing on social media. Or, if you need better quality for hobby or commercial use, you can invest a little bit in a compact camera, or a lot in a DSLR.”

For video, it comes down to the style of filming you want to do, Armknecht says.

  • For point-of-view and wide-angle shots, go with a durable, attachable camera, such as a GoPro.
  • For professional-looking video with a cinematic feel, you might want to consider a high-end DSLR with HD video capacity.
  • For a balanced camera that will do a good job inexpensively, look into consumer-grade compact camcorders.
  • For quick, casual video, some smartphones can take decent footage.

When you have the right tools for the job, a few “best practices” will give you the best shot at success. The most valuable advice is simply practice, says Erin Freel, owner of The Market Place, a agricultural communications and marketing company. 

“Practice, practice, practice,” she says. “You can quickly become good at this and quickly learn all the mistakes as well. Everything changes so fast. Find a camera and editing system you are comfortable with and make yourself an expert.”

Start by getting more footage than you will actually use, Freel says. Take about seven seconds of video for each shot. Don’t zoom or pan, and take a mix of close-up, medium and long shots.

“You will thank yourself later when editing,” she says.

One more must-follow piece of advice? “Please, for the love of all things—say no to vertical videos!” Freel says.

Once the raw footage has been collected, take the time to learn some basic editing processes too, Armknecht recommends.

“Most computers today come with basic photo- and video-editing software built in,” he says. “Taking a few hours to look at tutorials and educate yourself can really pay off.”

As with taking video, editing video gets easier with practice, Armknecht adds. Making more videos and watching other peoples’ videos will help you improve. Teaching yourself basic video-cutting and -editing techniques can turn a mess of video files into something you’d be proud to share with family and friends, he says.

Even if you’re worried about being tech-savvy enough to become an amateur video producer, chances are you know someone who is up to the task, Armknecht notes.

“There’s a good chance that you have family or friends who would be happy to help you get started,” he says. “Photographers and videographers are always looking for interesting subjects to snap or record. My father-in-law does not fly drones or work with video, but I do, and I love to capture harvest and other farm operations for him.”

To learn more about Doug Armknecht’s experiences shooting harvest videos on his father-in-law’s Kansas operation, visit