Photo Tips for Farmers

I attended the “Safe Portrayal In the Ag Industry & How to Spot Harmful Messaging” webinar as part of the 2020 CASA annual conference where the participants learned why messaging is key in shifting behaviours and creating safer farms.  Marsha Salzwedel, Ed.D, Project Scientist for the National Farm Medicine Center presented some great hints and tips for safe messaging through photos.

Here are a few lessons learned from the session.

As you know, farms use photos not just for business practices but also to communicate farming activities through social media, various methods of advertising in farmers markets and stores, news and magazine articles, and much more.

The content of the photo and what is in the background is important to keep in mind before posting photos.  Sunlight, shadows, animals, people, objects, weather, unsafe acts and conditions and other distractions can take away from the intent of the picture.  This can change the viewers focus causing detrimental unintended messaging for the farm resulting in unwanted back lash from the public or media.

The best time to take a photo outdoors is in the morning or evening on a cloudy day using flash and a background free of distractions.

For example:

  • Show children being supervised and doing activities and chores appropriate for their age.  Check out the Cultivate Safety webpage for more information.
  • If you want young children in a photo, show them in supervised fenced play areas on the farm.
  • Avoid showing children under the age of 14 driving farm machinery, riding ATVs, or ride-on lawn mowers.
  • Also, avoid showing adults with children riding in the adults’ laps on farm machinery, ATV’s, or lawn mowers.
  • Evaluate pictures with children; they may be cute, but can it be interpreted as unsafe? For example, is the child near a large animal with no barrier or fence in between the child and animal or are they playing on farm equipment or in piles of material
  • Show tractors and farm equipment being serviced, maintained, and operated safely, including rollover protective systems (ROPS), PTO guards in place, safety chains attached, operator wearing a seat belt and wearing the correct personal protective equipment, etc.
  • Avoid taking pictures in front of manure pits, clotheslines, aggressive animals, powerlines, etc.
  • Avoid showing workers climbing Silo’s or grain bins without wearing fall protection or workers working around unguarded equipment or machinery such as PTO and augers.
  • If you are unsure if the background is appropriate, use digital correction to blur it out.

A picture can is worth a thousand words, ensure those words convey a positive message for your farm.


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