People who work with farm animals know that they all have their own distinctive personalities but capturing their characters on camera can be fraught with difficulty.
Those who have tried often quote the old adage “never with work with children and animals” and if they do get a great shot it’s usually more luck than good management.
It’s taken years of practice to make Anthea Kitching’s pictures perfect, but thanks to her farming background and a few tricks of the trade she has become an accomplished agricultural photographer.
She is a regular contributor to Farmers Weekly and her clients include agricultural companies, but she now has her own range of products featuring her trademark humorous images. They include prints, cards, coasters, mugs, jigsaws and tea towels.
“It’s all born out of a love of animals, a passion for farming and a great big sense of humour,” says Anthea, who looks set to be a favourite at next week’s Great Yorkshire Show, where she has a stand.
She grew up in a farming family and she and her husband, David, who live at Swainby, near Northallerton, have their own commercial flock of sheep and are building up a small flock of pedigree blue faced Leicesters.
“I have worked with animals all my life. We have our own sheep and I also milk cows on a farm near Northallerton a few times a week,” she says. “The photography evolved from me taking photos while out and about on farms. Over the years I have found my own style. Working with farm animals every day you get to see their individual personalities and I have found that they are usually more than happy to pose for the camera, either out of pure curiosity or in return for food.”
Anthea began by selling prints, cards and jigsaws at agricultural shows but has recently expanded. “My main aim is to make people smile but I also want to have as many items as possible produced in the UK. My 1,000 piece jigsaws are manufactured in Dorset and the cards are all printed in North Yorkshire,” she says.
“When I started to look for other products to put my images on, I couldn’t find any companies that I could order small quantities from at a price that would allow me to sell on. So a month ago, and with the show season looming, I took the plunge and bought the equipment that allows me to print onto mugs, coasters, tea towels and small jigsaws. I have had to learn very quickly but early indications are that people love them, which I’m really pleased about.”
Most of the summer will be spent touring the shows with her Kitchy & Co. stall, but Anthea is also planning to develop her website and to find more retail outlets to stock her work.
“Sales are not my strong point. At the end of the day I am happiest in the field with our sheep and my camera,” she says, though her growing number of fans might say that her pictures sell themselves.
*For more details visit www.antheakitching.co.uk/kitchyco
* Anthea Kitching is on stand 205 on Avenue Q, behind the food hall at the Great Yorkshire Show.
The show, one of the key events in Yorkshire’s calendar, has everything from livestock and events to food and fashion shows plus an array of stalls.
It runs from Tuesday, July 14, to July 16. Tickets are available on the gates or at a reduced rate if you order by the end of today, July 8.
They cost £26 each and children’s tickets are (five to 18) £13 each. Tel: 01423 541222, www.greatyorkshireshow.co.uk