By Bob Stefko, First Place Award Winner “Portrait/Personality” Photo Category
*Editor’s Note: This article is part of the “Story Behind the Photo” series featuring first place 2018 AAEA Communication award winners.
My assistant and I spent a summer afternoon in 2017 at the Gonzalez dairy farm in Waupaca, Wisconsin to make this and some additional images to illustrate the cover and inside story for Successful Farming magazine. In all we spent roughly 5 hours with the family that day, some of that time was just talking with them and looking around the farm then about 2 solid hours photographing the family and individual members in different locations around the farm. This group shot was taken at the beginning of that 2 hour period and memory serving me correctly I used a Canon 5D mk II fitted with a Canon 70-200mm lens set closer to 70mm for this specific shot. Lighting was a mix of existing natural light that I supplemented with Profoto battery powered lighting. For this type of location I usually use soft boxes or beauty dishes attached to each Profoto light head. I didn’t want to make this shot look overly artificial with regard to the lighting so decided to let more of the available light come through and just use my battery powered lights to fill in some of the shadows and pull the image together. Working on farms can be tricky, they are often muddy and dirty places with animals and big equipment moving around so you always have to be a little extra careful and alert, however on this day we didn’t have any big issues and the family was extremely kind and giving of their time.
The story about the Gonzalez’s was all about the closeness of this large loving emigrant family so our number one goal was getting images of the family together in the environment of the farm which I think this image accomplishes. Since I’ve been a photographer so many years I’m not sure I learned anything technically new on this shoot but to me one of the best aspects of my job is getting to meet new people everyday from all walks of life. It really makes you appreciate how each of our lives can be so different with what we do but also how interconnected we all are in this world.