Wheat. Old-school pano
Wheat. Old-school pano

Crops.  They are all around us out here.  As one of our staple locations, in some areas of the State they are literally part of the neighborhood.  

We shoot a fair amount of agriculture (AG) by default (tractors, combines, fertilizers) even if that’s not what the project is about.  Regionally, many different non-AG clients (healthcare, banks, insurance) will use the crops and farms metaphorically.  Nationally, the tie-in could be anything from potato chips to pick-up trucks.

From late April to November, seeing crops almost daily has grown into an appreciation of their colors and textures and contrast to the land and sky.  A special point of respect has been learned about those who raise them.

But it’s just a field, what’s the big deal?  Well.  If you think that, please turn to the person near you that has a passion for capturing great photography and give them your job.

Since the easy perception of Nebraska is corn, an inquiry I often get is “What does the corn look like?”  Well thanks for asking.

Here are some tips about photography and filming in and around CROPS:

  • In Nebraska, the growing SEASON is roughly five months.  That’s from the time anything starts to pop through harvest.  If you want cut fields, you get an extra month.
  • The CORN gets going in late June.  This Spring was a tad later because of cool and wet weather.  JULY is supposed to be prime-time but last year, we shot some stuff in August that was still holding up.  The photo below was taken the second week of July.
  • For corn HEIGHT, there’s an old saying, “Knee-high by Fourth of July.”  This is a decent gauge but I’ve seen this defeated.  In warmer springs on corn that gets an early start, it could be much higher.  Ideally, six to eight feet is corn awesomeness.
  • The LOOK of crops goes like this, speaking photographically – CORN looks best when it’s full on green, lush, big, with the tassel exposed but not dried out.  BEANS start out green then go gold, then turn harvest ready brown.  WHEAT is green before it’s golden blond (the photo above is from August).  August is best for the latter, although wheat fields here have been sparse to non-existent in the past few years.
  • PRICES of crops reflect what is mostly being grown.
  • Here’s the most important thing.  I speak often of RESPECT.  I reiterate it here.  A Farmer’s crop is money.  Just as you wouldn’t want strangers rifling through your bank account, land owners deserve the respect of permission before you traipse across or into their field for the shot.  Even if you’re shooting their fields from the road and it will be offered up as a sold image, PLEASE inform the crop owner.   It’s the right thing to do.

    Corn. It's best in July.
    Corn. Most years, it’s best in July.


Images and words COPYRIGHT © Jamie Vesay         Please ask for permission to use.


Friendly cattle on their way to dinner.

Firstly, before I forget, you should know the cattle here are indeed delicious. It’s just the fresh thing. I grew up on the east coast and we had our fresh seafood. The steak was okay but not until I moved here did I taste a memorable one. Fear not all those who will not eat anything with parents. What was once known as vegetarian hell has become a much easier place to finding non-meat options.

Regarding working around cattle, there is really no worry per se. They are curious and mostly friendly. But they are animals. In the rare instance (like above) that you would be away from the rancher or wrangler – stay calm.  Respecting the wrangler and the animals and asking what you can or can not do will save everybody any embarrassment. The majority of ranchers are more than happy to help. Here are a few tips to consider when filming near cattle:

  • Yes, they do smell. They are cows. But pig and chicken crap smells much worse.
  • If you are shooting at a dairy, keep in mind there are milking times, usually twice a day every 12 hours. So the dairy might say “We milk at 3 and 3.”  That’s AM then PM.
  • Don’t build a set or place the camera between the herd and their dinner. They are heavy clumsy animals. When hungry, they are on a straight line to the food.
  • A sensitive client probably should NOT be there on “off to market” day. Also known as getting picked up for slaughter. It’s just a tad emotional.
  • DO NOT order your meat well done. And NEVER – ever – put ketchup on your steak.

Photos and words COPYRIGHT Jamie Vesay   ANY USE requires permission.