When I was first contacted by my publisher to photograph the high country and high-country farming community for a book project I was unbelievably excited and a little nervous.
Having grown up on a farm this was like the Formula 1 of farming in my eyes – as close to working with nature, the environment and livestock as you can get. It was a dream assignment and I wanted to do it full justice – produce a series of images that captured the real feeling of life in these spectacular places.
So I asked for help from my photography mentor, Kim Westerskov. Kim is a five times BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year and one of the most intrepid Antarctic photographers there are. He was in his usual contemplative mood and challenged me in my ways of thinking about approaching the assignment. He’s good like that.
One of the things he suggested was to absorb myself in some of the incredible art that has emerged from the high country of New Zealand. To explore the artists’ creativity and the way they weave story telling into their work.
That struck a chord with me as my family home on the farm has walls lined with high-country paintings – even blade shearing gangs hard at work in Australia like Tom Roberts’ “Shearing the Rams”. And Julie Greig’s incredible work adorned coasters and place mats throughout my family home. I took a renewed interest in all the moments they had captured.
My two high-country books: Merino Country and Life on Muzzle both found success and a large part of that is due to my research into these artists and painters.
So earlier this year I was really moved when I was approached by artist Cindy Hutton. She had a commission to paint one of my pictures from my book. A shot of a group of musterers heading out on horseback into a giant, mountainous block to bring in the cattle for calf marking at The Ravine on Muzzle Station.
Her painting completed the cycle for me and the final result was incredible. I felt very honoured.
A huge thanks to Cindy for her professionalism and talent with a brush. I’d also like to thank Muzzle Station owners O and Guy Redfern for being so generous with me throughout the assignment (which I dragged out as long as I could so I could spend time there). And to the calf-marking team who helped me to get around and in position for photos, put up with my snoring and entertained me along the way. Also thanks to Truce my horse on Muzzle. Unlike others I have ridden he knew we were shooting photos … we just clicked …