Livestock Photographer: Altitude Advantage captures livestock and industry memories
Saratoga native Kaylee Kerbs is a third-generation rancher who found a passion for livestock photography and documenting the ranching industry. In her spare time, she helps her family run a commercial cow/calf operation.
After graduating high school, she studied animal science at Casper College and Oklahoma State University where she was a key member of two national champion judging teams. She then got her master’s degree in animal science from Sam Houston State University in Texas.
Kaylee says she started her photography career by helping a friend take livestock photos while she was living in Texas. Now, as a photographer for nearly a decade, she has captured thousands of photos and videos at livestock sales, shows, family portraits and sporting events.
Kaylee returned home to her family’s ranch four years ago and has since incorporated show photography at jackpot shows and fairs, including the Carbon County Fair and the Wyoming State Fair (WSF). This year marks her second year offering full WSF photography coverage.
Many of the projects Kaylee works on are diverse, she notes, but some of the larger shows, like the WSF, are huge accomplishments.
“It takes an entire team,” says Kaylee. “I have several people helping me with some of our larger projects.”
“Most state fairs or national shows have a professional livestock photographer taking backdrop and ring shots,” she explains. “To be able to cover an event of this magnitude, be there for every show and get photos of every exhibitor and every animal, it’s such a new thing in Wyoming.”
Growing up, she was very involved with showing in 4-H. Coming from a cattle and sheep ranch, she always had a few of each animal, as well as pigs, for projects at the fair. Being able to capture a moment in time for the exhibitors and families in the industry that shaped her life is what makes her job special, she explains.
“Just being able to be there and having the opportunity to provide high-quality images and memories to those families for years to come, whether they win or not, is very rewarding,” she adds. “Our photos come from inside the ring – we can have a better perspective and really capture the emotion of a moment.”
Preparation and giving back
Kaylee and her team use natural lighting in many livestock sale and video sessions and artificial lighting for fair backdrops.
“Extra lighting really helps brighten everything up,” she shares. “It’s important to be set up and ready to go because anything can happen – you can’t go back and ask someone to pose again or redo a handshake – you have to be ready to go in the moment.”
Kaylee is very grateful for the individuals who have helped her along the way and never hesitates to help someone else who has questions about photography.
“Sometimes, others within an industry hesitate to teach others, but I love teaching people,” shares Kaylee. “Whether it’s about show photography or helping them with their sale pictures and videos, I’m an open book when it comes to teaching people, because someone once helped me and gave me a chance when I didn’t know anything about cameras.”
She mentions she didn’t originally study photography or design, so she is grateful for the people who have helped her along the way.
“A lot of what I’ve learned is self-taught and developed from being around others who wanted to help me grow and be successful, so I try to provide that to anyone who comes up to me,” she adds.
Passion for photography
An important aspect of her job is managing and editing photos.
“Having the ability to edit photos afterwards is one thing that makes someone a better photographer,” she explains. “But planning and scheduling is another important aspect of the job – winter and spring are typically bull sale catalog seasons. Sometimes, the weather can be unpredictable, so it’s important to plan accordingly.”
Although Kaylee helps on her family’s ranch when she can, her true passion is photography. Through her business, Altitude Advantage, Kaylee has been able to meet people and make lasting impacts. She looks forward to capturing many more memories down the photography road.
“Photography consumes pretty much all of my time,” mentions Kaylee. “I’m constantly on the road and everywhere between here and Texas. I love being able to revisit people – my customers become part of my family.”
For more information, visit altitudeadvantage.shootproof.com.
Brittany Gunn is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.