How to Photograph Your Cattle

By September 4, 2019 January 3rd, 2020 Resources, Tips & Tricks

Good pictures of your cattle are important to:

  1. Represent your cattle in advertisements
  2. Email pictures of your cattle to potential buyers
  3. Represent your cattle on your website
  4. Good first impression in sale catalogs
  5. Share photos with friends and others
  6. Personal satisfaction


  1. Digital camera
  2. Choose a camera with a fast shutter speed
  3. Camera with rotating view finder

Best weather and time for photos

  1. Lightly overcast day – no shadows, but still enough light
  2. Cool day so cattle will stand out in sunlight and not seek shade
  3. Season when green grass is abundant
  4. Early in day when cattle are finishing morning grazing period
  5. Just before feeding time
  6. Later in day before cattle have moved out for afternoon grazing
  7. When cattle first stand from resting they will urinate and defecate, so give them time
  8. Shaking feed bucket is best attention getting device.  Never put one cube on the ground!!!
  9. Take the picture so the camera is level with the midline of the animals body
  10. Position animal so that animal’s shadow is pointing directly away from the photographer

Positioning cattle

Side view with head turned toward camera or slightly forward of 90 degree, front legs together or slightly apart, rear legs apart with leg closest to camera (near leg) back and leg away from camera (off leg) forward, ears forward, alert appearance, tail down with switch showing, light behind photographer (shadow of animal away from photographer)

Front legs together, near rear legs back with off rear leg slightly forward

Different placement of front legs, rear legs still positioned correctly

Examples of Incorrectly Positioned Cattle

Cow looks awkward, out of balance, cannot see conformation

Rear legs positioned incorrectly, head down, tail switching; cow looks shortened because legs are camped under her

Light is on the wrong side of cow putting shadow on her, head is down, ear is back, poor background

Cow is standing in hay bale.

Cow is on a mission to get away, light is on the incorrect side, and does not show cow’s features and horns.

Please, give her some privacy!

Where did she go?

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Which picture do you want representing your heifer in a sale catalog?

Use of photo editing software to improve and correct imperfections in pictures:
(I use Corel PaintShop Pro X4)

Rotate and crop commands: used to straighten picture that is slanted and remove excess back ground to bring subject to the front


When you crop a picture be sure “Keep aspect ratio” is selected, otherwise picture will have “stretched” or “shortened” appearance.

Clone tool – Can be used to remove unwanted background or objects in picture


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