The story behind Emily H Photography

Leading livestock photographer Emily Hurst shares her favourite photos


Emily Hurst shares her best shots and clever tricks.

Emily Hurst now does photography full-time with a Nikon D850 and D750. Photo: Heidi Fulton Anderson

Emily Hurst now does photography full-time with a Nikon D850 and D750. Photo: Heidi Fulton Anderson

How far would you go to get the perfect shot? Stand out in -40C temperatures?

That's what Gunning's Emily Hurst faced during her first photoshoot on a Canadian farm in winter.

A wind chill and more than a foot of snow met her as they tried to track down two heifers that were in line for a photograph.

The conditions were so cold that even Emily's camera struggled.

"After about the first 20 minutes my camera got so cold that it shut down," she said.

"We had to put it in the car to defrost, and I don't think I was far behind.

"We eventually found them (the heifers), hardly able to walk in our eight layers, and after shuffling around to get them to a good spot, the rest of the herd came and stood right in the way. We finally got the photo, but that was definitely a shock to the system."

It was 2013 when Emily received her first camera as a birthday present; a Nikon D3300.

Originally she took photos of her family's cattle and property known as Tickalara Angus and it wasn't until a gap year to America that she came to realise she could make a career out of her passion.

"During my gap year I was able to spend some time over in the USA with the incredible Heidi and Charles Anderson from Legacy Livestock Imaging who showed me that livestock photography could be more than just a hobby," she said.

"Coming back home I started photographing shows while I was at UNE. Upon graduating I moved into photography full time."

While she excels with standup shots, Emily has built a reputation for capturing not just quiet moments, but framing sometimes ordinary practices in a new light.

Clipping cattle, a ribbon presentation or junior judges competitions can be transformed through Emily's lens.

She sees photography as more than just a domestic tool but an opportunity to market livestock to the world.

Photoshop and editing tools allow to remove halters, fix lighting, or clean a background. All simple fixes that are frequently made to images and gain the attention of breeders worldwide.

"Today more than ever we see images of livestock from around the world," she said.

"This ability to compare and benchmark is a great opportunity, and when producers are able to know and trust that the images being shown are good photos and the animal is not being changed, then this is a massive asset in looking at international programs.

"More than just a good photo or a good animal, we are able to use images (both profiles and candids) to showcase the whole operation. With online media being as popular as it is, we are able to connect with this global audience in a whole new way.

"Photos have an amazing way of being able to talk better than words, and when producers are able to use this the sky's the limit."

Many of Emily's images capture some really raw emotion between people, so picking a favourite constantly changes.

A line up of Speckle Park bulls at Jackungah are a current favourite but she can't go past her shot of a herd of cows pushing through the snow on a farm in Canada.

So how does she do it?

Patience, space and a good team go a long way.

"I think they are probably the biggest influences on how your picturing of stock will go," she said.

"Start with a relatively small, paddock. Pushing cattle along a fence line is easiest, and ideally you would have an animal/s at either end of this fence so that the one you are picturing is always walking towards a buddy.

"Having people that aren't going to get mad and stress animals out is a massive plus, and remember that people tend to take hints off you - if you're calm and happy everyone else is far more likely to follow.

"Just take it as slowly as you need, as soon as you try and rush the animal will do the opposite of what you want, every time."

The story The story behind Emily H Photography first appeared on The Land.


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