Getting the Shots: Evansville, WI

One of the most interesting aspects of my job are the photo and video shoots. The phrase itself conjures up images of models, gorgeous scenery, exotic locations, amazing effects, tables spread with lavish foods, film crews, and drama.

Ag photo shoots are just like that, except without the models, exotic locations, lavish food, or amazing effects. We do get to keep the drama, but Waco, Texas is about as exotic as it gets.

Most John Deere Ag shoots actually happen on customers' farms. We find people who are willing to let our three ring circus onto their land, and we go to work. Sometimes, we shoot equipment that's new from the factory, and sometimes we shoot the customer's own machines. We try not to disrupt things too much, but what we do tends to look so different than actual farming that we end up as a bit of a distraction.

One of my first shoots was in Evansville, WI, just south of Madison. This was the shoot where I discovered that I am officially the world's WORST boom lift driver.

We were shooting the new Self-Propelled Forage Harvesters on a customer's dairy. These machines are pretty darn impressive, and they are really darn big.


By the way, what you see there is John Deere employees cleaning machines. Doesn't matter if it's the smallest push mower or the biggest combine- we detail them repeatedly during the shoot. 4 people can wipe down a baler in about a minute, but something like an SPFH takes considerable longer.

You'll also see lots of scenes like this on a shoot:

Just because something looks good in person doesn't mean it looks good on camera. We use giant whiteboards to reflect just the right amount of light into just the right places.  Those big old white screens make for some interesting moments on windy days, too.

So, we had some great shots of the SPFH in corn, and we decided to take it over to another field a few miles away. The guys from the factory took the big stuff, leaving the boom lift for yours truly.

If you've never had the dubious pleasure of driving a lift, they are not what I'd call fast. Fortunately, the one we had was the deluxe high-speed model– it went 6 mph. You stand in a basket, grab a joy stick, and hope for the best. It's kind of like trying to back a wagon with an old pickup with a flat tire and no power steering.

They also don't do very well with corn fields or irrigation pivots, I discovered. Or country roads, trees, or cross traffic.

I don't recommend it.

The good news though, was we got some amazing shots.


I was a teeny bit nervous standing in front of it even when it wasn't running.


And the best part? I found a mug like this in the Madison airport:


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