Photographer Amanda King from ‘By the Horns’ lives on a sheep and beef farm in rural Canterbury, New Zealand. Her career took a turn after she took a photo of a "big hairy cow" to display in her living room. Her friends loved her 40x30 print and requested copies for themselves. She sensed an opportunity, and within nine weeks had built up a 16,000 following on Facebook.
We asked Amanda about her new business venture, what inspires her about rural animals and a bit about the way she chooses to display her work.
Amanda had been a school teacher for about 11 years, and her principal put her through a digital photography course so she could teach it as an Options Class. That's where she discovered her love and passion for photography. She put herself through a few more courses and started up her own children’s photography business.
Living on a sheep and beef farm, Amanda's surrounded by animals all day. "I'm a huge animal lover, and really aim to pet everything in our paddock that's not there purely to eat! I've always wanted a large print of a hairy cow on my wall, so I went out looking for one to photograph. I got it printed to a large 40x30 and then had a few requests from friends to do the same for them. I figured, why not keep doing this with all the other rural animals around me and see where it takes me?"
"It's been an amazing reaction," Amanda says, "something I wasn’t expecting at all! I am shocked and overwhelmed by it all, and am just enjoying the ride at the moment."
Asked what goes into capturing images like these, she says, "Having the animals close by helps! I try to either have a dark background such as the shelter belt on the farm in order to manipulate the background easily, or look up to the sky to gain a clean white background image. Also, having a bit of courage helps, as getting close to those bulls gets my heart racing."
Amanda says she loves to print big. "I think the bigger the print the better. It has such an impact design-wise, and can really accentuate a living space. I have a particular soft spot for animals with horns. I just think they look wonderful in photos. However I photograph almost anything. I have many requests for many different types of rural animals!"
"Great photographs move me, and photography forces me to look at the world much harder … I really do enjoy what I do, whether that is taking photos of children or animals. When I'm photographing, I'm all in. And in addition to my camera, I usually carry a big dumb grin around with me. All worries, sadness and regrets are forgotten."
Amanda agrees that these animals are underrated as subjects. "Absolutely, they're full of so much personality, and I hope to capture that in my photographs. They are so inquisitive! They often come up to me, cautiously sussing out what I am and what my intentions are. It is also about getting the timing right. I wouldn’t want to go near a roaring stag, put it that way. I have had some very friendly farmers even bring the stock into their yards so I can get closer to them."
"I have a few projects lined up. I will continue to expand my gallery and sell my products on my online store. I will be selling my fine art prints in a new pop-up store in the Arts Centre in Christchurch called “Shopology”, starting in October. And finally I will be holding a gallery evening in our very own wool shed on our farm, mid to late October. I am always on the hunt for new and unique rural animals to photograph. I have some exciting new subjects to photograph coming soon."
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