A sheep getting a shower, a pig smiling or a tasty bite are sights to capture at the fair

Jennifer Stultz
Pratt Tribune
Nothing better than a frothy snack for this calf at the Pratt County Fair.

It is county fair season at many Kansas communities at this time of year and that means there are some great photo opportunities at hand. Photographers of all ages can safely get close to many different types of animals and people-friendly events at county fairs that make for some fun photos.

Pigs in the wash pen enjoying a cool hose bath, colorful cattle lined up in the show ring, chickens with attitude or unique top-knots in the poultry barn and even baby animals, like foals with a mare in the horse barn, are often sights not seen on the average day that can be photographed at a county fair.

Always remember to stay out of the way of fair exhibitors as they are working with their animals or projects, and be kind and unobtrusive as possible. A photographers should never be out to get attention, and better results come from lurking in the background. Taking a camera to the county fair can be a great adventure, but it is of upmost importance to be courteous and mindful of space and safety issues.

While the usual photography tips of using thirds, take time to focus, etc. apply, there are some additional tips to keep in mind to get some great photographs at the fair. If any Pratt, Stafford or Kiowa county fair photo enthusiasts get some great pictures that they would like to share with the newspaper, and are reading this article, by all means, please email those best shots to jstultz@gannett.com for possible publication in a coming fair feature. Be sure to include as much identifying information as possible about submitted photos.

Tips for fun fair photos:

1) Get close - it is much more fun to as good as feel the slobber on a piggy smile and to see the twinkle in their eye, than to maybe imagine it. At the fair, show animals are often penned in smaller areas than in natural spaces on the farm, so find a pen-side perch and adjust the focus to get as up close and personal as possible.

2) Look for action - a duck cleaning it's feathers might be a more exciting and attention-getting photograph than just one sitting in the corner of it's fair pen. A quicker camera-trigger is needed to catch action shots, but the reward is capturing someone avoiding a water hose at the wash-station or finding a sheep owner all lathered up right along with their project lamb. Those are the fun and memorable photos that could be taken at the fair.

3) Avoid bright background lighting - this is difficult at county fair show-rings and there is often a large shaded roof on top and open-air sides that are blinding with summer sun-rays. The trick is to get the right angle of photograph, maybe from perching on a railing, or zoom in close to the subject so the light/dark contrast of background lighting is not a distraction.

4) Be creative - static exhibits (those inside fairground buildings on display) are fun to photograph as well and a person can experiment with different angles to create an interesting shot. Sometimes the best photo is one of an individual experiencing the sight of an unexpected bug in an entomology exhibit or a kid taking a big bite of a hot dog or hamburger at the usual county fair food booth.

All fair photos are fun, especially when shared with others!