I attended an informative lighting workshop this weekend that had a wedding theme to it. Doing these workshops are of incredible value and there is always something new to learn despite wedding photography not being my subject. Other than a heap of helpful information I got from this workshop, I also got confirmation that the type of photography I do (agriculture and small businesses) is hands-down, what I love to do!
I got to my ‘office’ early this morning to shoot Ashleigh Farm Contracting and Field Services in action. The sun was just up and the trusty beast of a John Deere Combine Harvester was ready to clock in another day of service. There is nothing pretty about this machine (and this work) except of course for the spectacular sunsets that come with long hours of harvesting maize. On these shoots, there is no make-up or models or care for a bit of mud on the shoes! This is about a beast of a machine hard at work. It’s gritty, dirty and dangerous if you are in its path! It’s about traipsing through maize stalks twice the length of my tripod, (!) it’s about being coated with blackjacks from top to toe and it’s about capturing the action and the atmosphere of this work, giving you a feel of what it was like to be there.
I think that agriculture photography, in general, can be quite dull at times or maybe ‘flat’ is a better word and lacks the ‘romance’ of the industry. I want non-farmers to be intrigued or inspired even, by farm life and agriculture. This is an industry that is a way of life, and all who choose it, immerse themselves in it. These agriculture characters are almost always absolutely passionate about what they do.
Skimps Knight is one of these characters! Skimps comes from a long line of farmers and from little, his future in agriculture machinery was set in motion. Skimps was the kid who likes to take broken things apart and fix them, quite literally. With any machine, be it a motorbike, a lawnmower or a tractor that had been deemed ‘properly broken,’ Skimps would make it his mission to fix it and get it running again. Nothing ever ‘retired’ on the Knights farm, ever! It comes as no surprise that after school, Skimps decided to take his love for machines one step further and get a formal education in mechanics. Skimps would help his father on the farm as well as exercise his ability to fix and operate farm machinery.
Many years on, Skimps is farming on the farm he grew up on and building his business Ashleigh Farm Contracting and Field services at the same time. His contracting business started with a simple 460 Massey Ferguson tractor with which he’d do discing for a local farmer and make some extra cash to help with the cost and running of the farm. Soon after, another farmer requested Skimp’s services and another and another and this is how he started! 6 years on, Skimps has steadily grown his business and now has a fleet of tractors, a combine Harvester and enough discers, rippers, ploughs, rollers, planters and sprayers to keep up with the growing demand for contracting and field services in the Ixopo, Highflats and Creighton districts. Though he still sees his business as a small business, there is no denying that Skimps’s ‘little’ world of pulling machines apart as a kid and fixing them is translating into the ‘big world!’ His love of machines and his experience in farming are the perfect marriage of skills for this business and it’s thriving – the way it so often happens, when what you do is what you love and you are good at it.
These days, it’s not Skimps alone. He has a lovely wife who as Skimps puts it, ‘drives the computer,’ a very new Knight edition and a little wing man who is about 4 years old and whose eyes light up at the sight of a big green machine, just like Daddy’s did and still do!
To find out more about Ashleigh Farm Contracting and field services, contact Skimps Knight on 079 220 0016. As Skimp says,
“Don’t skimp, phone Skimps!!!”
Lianne Ashton Photography
If you are needing agriculture imagery of your business for anything from websites, brochures or advertising or simply need more information about my photography service, I’d love to hear from you. Please ‘click here’ to connect! Alternatively email me on lianneashtonphotography at gmail.com I am based in the Ixopo area, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, though have done numerous commissioned agriculture shoots in Africa.