A cheeky shearing shed snap that became a viral trump card for the Australian wool industry, and made a cult hero out of a local shearer, has proved a winner for a South Australian rural photographer.
When a shearer nicknamed Telf stripped off during shearing time on her family’s Furner property in recent years, photographer Jacqui Bateman grabbed her camera and immortalised the moment.
This week, the impromptu shot – nicknamed The Naked Gun – won the People section in the 2017 Australian Council of Agricultural Journalists Rural Photography Awards, and has put Ms Bateman in the running for an international photography award.
Ms Bateman said she had been delighted to win because there had been some tough competition from excellent rural photographers.
“I was pretty stoked. It is the image that just keeps on giving,” she said.
“He disappeared into the catching pen and came out starkers, except for his moccasins.”
Livening things up
The number one question Ms Bateman gets asked about the photograph is ‘How did you get him to take his gear off?’
Promising shearing in the nude was not a regular occurrence in their shed, and was perhaps frowned upon under occupational health and safety regulations, Ms Bateman said it had been all the shearer’s idea.
“I think he decided to liven things up a bit. He shore one ewe, in the raw,” she said.
Ms Bateman said she had been lucky to get the shot as the battery in her first camera went flat, and a full card in her second meant she had precious little time to snap away.
Then there was the delicate matter of getting a shot that was PG-rated.
Ms Bateman said the 30 or so outtakes were not for public consumption.
“You couldn’t avoid them,” Ms Bateman said, of Telf’s privates.
“I managed to get one shot where you couldn’t see any dangly bits.”
A positive look at wool industry
The world got a look at Furner’s naked shearer after Ms Bateman used the shot as her personal response to an anti-wool campaign by animal rights campaigners People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
PETA’s Wool: The Naked Truth campaign used an image of a bloodied lamb with a naked model, and urged consumers to boycott Australian wool.
Wanting to show what she said was the true nature of Australian shearing, Ms Bateman knew her quintessential Aussie shearer shot was perfect.
“There was a group of producers who got together and were posting good stories about shearing on social media and I thought ‘Well, I have one that will do the job’,” she said.
The meme, which took just 10 minutes for Ms Bateman to create, resonated around the world.
“It went viral. It went worldwide. I had enquiries from Europe and America. It just went crazy,” Ms Bateman said.
After being seen by millions of people, the photograph won Ms Bateman two categories in the Rural Media South Australia Awards in November.
The world award will be decided at the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists 2017 Congress in South Africa in April.
A repeat performance
After such an immense response from the public, has Telf performed his party trick again?
“Not in our shed,” Ms Bateman said. “I don’t think he is game now after the reaction to the first time, but maybe other sheds.
“He is a very experienced shearer and that just goes to prove how safe Australian shearers are.”
When the image was circulated on social media, many people commented on the safety aspect, perhaps fearing Telf might do himself an injury with those sharp shears.
But there were “no nicks on the sheep and no nicks on Telf”, Ms Bateman said.
“I think he has become a bit of cult hero in the shearing shed,” she said.