An Interview with Bradley Cullen

by Hu Team on May 16, 2014

Below is an interview with Bradley Cullen of Australia.

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HU: Where are you from?

Brad: I’m from a small coastal town by the name of Gerringong located an hour and a half south of Sydney, NSW, Australia

HU: Did you grow up with a farm background?

Brad: Yes

(IF YES) HU: Tell us a bit about your family farm

(IF NO) HU: Explain how you became involved with the dairy industry?

Brad: My family currently runs a 120 Holstein cow dairy farm. Dairy farming has actually been in our family for quite a few generations making my brother and I the seventh generation.

HU: What is your current occupation(s) in Australia?

Brad: I am currently on the road full time photographing and when I get a chance I help out on the family farm.

 

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HU: What was your initial interest with cattle? (showing, pictures, milking, etc…)

Brad: As soon as I could walk as a kid we were always helping dad with the farm and cattle. But it was through showing cows that my passion really took off.

HU: What sparked your interest in the professional cattle photography?

Brad: I would have to say watching and observing some of our Australian cattle photographers in Australia such as Ross Easterbrook and Dean Malcolm. From watching and talking to them my passion for cattle photography soon became my dream job for what I wanted to do once I finished high school

HU: Where did you learn how to properly photograph cattle?

Brad: I see myself as a very visual learner and it was through observing the Australian cattle photographers where I picked up the basics. I haven’t ever trained with a photographer and I have had to learn almost everything solo. I studied the photographs that the American and Canadian photographers were taking (as I see them as the best in the Business), and through studying them, I slowly got a better idea the small details that make a big difference in getting that photograph everyone likes.

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HU: Where did you work/visit when in North American last year?

Brad: Last year was my first trip to America, I traveled down from Quebec in Canada to WDE in Wisconsin US with Gen-Com. I worked as an intern at Gen-Com for 4 weeks from Expo to the Royal. I also went to Arethusa Farms in Connecticut US for a few days to check out their cows and to see Veronica.

HU: Tell us your favorite memoirs or experiences of time spent in Canada and the US

Brad: I have a lot of good memoirs from my trip overseas. The first one that comes to mind would have to be working with RF Goldwyn Hailey at Gen-Com, I don’t think I have ever known a cow to have so much personality, she is defiantly one of a kind and was a very cool to observe. Another memory I had is when I was getting my photo taken with Veronica, when we put the leather halter on her I took hold of her and she nearly threw me on the ground, I later found out she wont allow you to place your hand in the halter, Veronica is also another cow that has an awesome personality and is very different to observe. I also worked with Vicki Fletcher and her crew at the Royal, it was an awesome experience and lots of fun!

HU: What are you long term goals with photography?

Brad: I want to keep on improving and growing as a business. I try to keep up with the new technology and work with experienced photographers outside the industry when I can.

HU: Is there a large enough market and demand in Australia to make photography a full time career?

Brad: At the moment yes, I believe there is more than enough work to keep me busy in both New Zealand and Australia between shows, daughter photos and photography tours.

HU: Who are you mentors or adviser?

Brad: I have had so many people both inside and outside the industry mentor me. The first one that comes to mind is MMK Photography, they are a wedding photography business in Australia that have tutored me with my photography skills and have always supported me in everything I do. Vicki Fletcher over the last two years in particularly, has helped me so much and took me back to the basics, I was lucky enough to be able to work with Vicki at the Royal last year and also on the road during a Semex tour in Quebec. Cybil Fisher and Jenny Thomas from Cybil Fisher Photography have also helped me out with my photography as well. Ella Wright has also been tutoring me over the years and helping me, Ella gave me the opportunity to photograph in the ring at WDE last year during the Jersey and Color judging, this is something I have always wanted to do and I am so thankful to have been given the opportunity. Andrew Hunt from The Bullvine recently has also been there for advice and has been helping me out as well.
I think you can learn something from everyone and for me its so important to get out their and work with as many people as you can, within the dairy industry but I also have found it helpful to work with photographers outside the industry to see there approach to photography and how they do things.

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HU: Do you have any interest to do other photography jobs as well, such as weddings, babies, etc…? or just stick to cows?

Brad: To be honest I started with working for MMK Photography while I was in high school as a wedding assistant photographer. I do like photographing weddings and its there where I can put the true art of photography into practice, I love getting creative and looking for that perfect moment between the Bride and Groom. I have also done a small amount of modelling photography. My older brother Mitch, has his own photography business and when the timing is right as he has a wedding to photograph we work together. But to be honest I can sometimes find it easier to deal with cows than people  – haha. I have always had a huge passion for photographing dairy cattle and I can’t see that rapidly changing anytime soon.

HU: What is your favorite aspect of cattle photography?

Brad: I like photographing cows in their natural environment and wait for that perfect moment where she is standing right, it takes time and I certainly wouldn’t want to do that with every cow but its just something less staged and a bit of a challenge. I think the photograph of Veronica is a perfect example of this.

HU: What is your least favorite aspect of cattle photography?

Brad: There are lots of things that make the job a lot more challenging. Its so important to have a good crew as I have learned and when you don’t have enough help it can make the process a lot more challenging and difficult, at IDW I can confidently say that this year when I had a group of talented people helping me we could get the job done in a few minutes and are able to photograph around 50-70 a day. Weather can also play a big role in getting that perfect photo, if its very hot for example the cow will be a lot harder to photograph and get that nice “pop”, then you get those days where its raining that make it more challenging.

HU:  Does picturing cattle differ much from Australia to Canada? If yes, in what ways?

Brad: Yes and No. Here in Australia we can photograph pretty all year round with no problems, where as in some parts of the US and Canada the photographers are forced to move inside because of the snow. I also find it a challenge to photograph in the extreme temperatures, at IDW its not uncommon for the temperatures to peak in the high 40 degrees Celsius. For this reason when I photograph there I run two large industrial air-conditioning units for the cows to make sure they are the most comfortable they can be.

HU: Is it sometimes stressful being behind the camera and trying to get that perfect shot?  Or do you stay pretty calm at all times?

Brad: Yes it can get quite frustrating when things don’t go to plan, but I always try to stay as clam as possible and I see this to be very important. Yes its annoying when you were so close to getting her but the more worked up I get the more likely the cow is to not corporate, that’s just what I have found.

HU: Who is your favorite or most memorable cow you have photographed so far?

Brad: Two that come to mind would have to be when I was took some grazing photos of Veronica and also photographing the supreme champion at IDW this year. Veronica is a personal favorite of mine she is such a unique cow, just watching her walk around was pretty cool, whenever I saw her she was eating flat out and always had a huge fill on her. Photographing the champion cow at IDW wasn’t an easy task, Lady is one of my favorites I have always loved from the moment I first saw her, but she is a cow that will only trust certain people and if she doesn’t like you she isn’t afraid to let you know. I was very lucky enough to have some very experienced people come in and help me photograph her.

 

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