Award-winning photographer Wayne Hutchinson is recognised as one of the UK’s leading agricultural and rural life photographers. Maureen Hodges takes a peek at the man behind the lens.

Wayne Hutchinson captures slices of agricultural life in the county and beyond.

Since establishing Hutchinson Photography in 1994, Wayne has seen his business grow rapidly and with growing acclaim and is now recognised as one of the leading agricultural and livestock photographers in the country.

He says when he had his first set of accounts for his business he thinks he made

a loss of about £25 for the year…..'and it’s been downhill ever since!’ he joked.

“I got my first camera when I was 18, a Praktika, an old East German camera, and started taking it around the farm with me all the time, snapping and learning about the camera and exposure etc and that taught me the basics I guess of photography and seeing a photo opportunity,” says Wayne.

“I started selling photocards around local shops and further afield initially, selling several thousand a year to tourist shops in the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. One of the main influences was a man who came and stayed at my parents B&B on the farm who used to be a photographer for the National Geographic magazine and he suggested my photos were worth pushing more and that they were half decent.”

Wayne, 49, bought his first digital camera in 2000, one of the first in the agricultural sector to do so, but things really took off after the Foot-and-Mouth outbreak in 2001. When the sales restarted he was asked by several breed societies, such as Limousin, British Blues, Blue Faced Leicesters and Beltex, to do their work for them and since then has been on the go all the time covering the major shows and sales all over the country.

“Business is just as brisk as ever too. One weekend this autumn I covered sales in Southern Ireland, Northern Ireland and did two features in Scotland. I was due to travel to Wales for a job on the Monday but that was postponed due to the Queen's funeral. As well as the photography I also write features / articles and sale reports for the breed societies too.

“I supply images to several agencies around the world, and they are a good source of extra earnings too as all the photos that I take and deem good enough end up on there and they market them for me......even though they help themselves to a nice slice of the pie for the honour of doing it! These photos can sell 10-15 years after taking them and you never know what is going to of my best-selling photos is of a water butt in a garden, another is a pile of rubbish left on the banks of the river Eden. Another year a shot of a rabbit running in the snow sold BIG in Japan....appearing on television, billboards and magazines! The Department for Transport used an image, taken at night, of the M6 near Junction 37, for an night time driving awareness marketing campaign...that was good seeing pictures on the wall in service stations and in newspapers thinking 'That's mine!'"

Wayne’s work takes him all over the country from Cornwall to Inverness. “But I

have also travelled further afield, working in France, Belgium, Estonia and the USA and have also done several trips for a charity called "Send A Cow" out to Africa, showing how agriculture can transform peoples lives,” he says.

Brought up on a Cumbrian hill farm, he also breeds Swaledale sheep and trains and breeds sheepdogs, both of which he photographs. “I think at the heart of all my images, fantastic or not, is the desire to show the world what a great industry agriculture is. I see it as my job as to present the countryside to an unaware public just what a great place farmers have made their countryside...there is so much negative press around farming, I just hope I can show people how it really is. Being brought up and working on a farm, and indeed still running my own small place alongside the photography, helps me 'see' how animals will react to situations and they work into the countryside. It's about seeing things before they actually happen. When we take photos of sheep I often take my own sheepdogs with me and using them I can generally make a sheep look where I want it to....we make a great team! One thing I am also always aware of is that each photo tells a story.....and maybe in 30-40 years time people will be looking at them and saying, 'oh, that was so and so'. Each photo is a snapshot of history and I am privileged enough to be documenting it.”

Married to Karen, he has one son Sam, who is 19. They farm near Ravenstonedale and as well as helping Wayne with his photography business, Sam makes videos and ‘vloggs’ on his ‘ewetube’ channel under the heading of ‘The Swaley Man’.

“Sam has started working with me, producing videos for clients. This is a side which is developing well, with more requests for video and also he is doing photography jobs for me too, and making a good job of it! I also have two stepchildren, Libby and Scott. Libby is very keen and capable, helping us on our farm and is very good at helping to set sheep up to be photographed. Scott is at university studying Bio-science."

With many businesses affected by the pandemic, how has the agricultural photography business fared? “To be fair Covid hasn't been as much of an issue as it could have been....obviously we lost a lot of work as sales and shows were cancelled, but on the flip side farmers were looking to do more promotional work at home to sell their livestock and also it gave me more time to work on our farm and get stuff done that needed to be done......there always jobs to do. It must have been far harder to be stuck in a flat in a of the big advantages of the countryside is that there is a lot of healthy fresh air!!”

Wayne has a library of more than 20,000 photos online and he is proud of all of them in one way or another. "They all tell a story of a particular moment in time," he says.