Califonia Bountiful

Reflections of agriculture

January/February 2022 California Bountiful magazine

Photographers capture their perspectives of farm life

From a walnut harvest highlighted by beams of morning light to sheep at pasture during sunset to a calf moments after birth, each picture tells a poignant story about California agriculture.

With the theme "Member Reflections," the 40th annual California Farm Bureau Photo Contest encouraged amateur photographers to enter shots that showcase the Golden State's farms and ranches from their personal perspective.

Members came through, submitting photos of animals, fruits and vegetables, machinery, landscapes and farm and ranch employees hard at work.

Cash prizes were given to the adult winners as well as the Budding Artists under age 14, in a category sponsored by the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom.

There's also a new bonus this year: Winning photos are featured in a 2022 monthly wall calendar, available by emailing

Photo: Brett Schneider

Grand PrizeBrett Schneider, Placer County Farm Bureau

Schneider is a full-time police officer who lives on a ranch with several Clydesdales, sharing a private road with a neighboring cattle rancher. One evening when he went to check the mail and take out the trash, Schneider had his camera with him, hoping to get a good sunset photo. "Louie's a really friendly bull, and as I rode past, he poked his head up and just gave me that look, and I said, 'I've got to get a photo.'" He changed the photo to black and white because the texture was sharper and "it seemed to fit the mood better."

Photo: Andy Scheer

First Place, Andy Scheer, Butte County Farm Bureau

Scheer married into a rice- and walnut-growing family, and as a civil engineer, he works on a lot of agriculture-related water infrastructure projects. The first time he visited his in-laws' orchard during harvest and saw how beautiful the light was shining through the trees, he knew he had to come back with his camera. The day of the shoot, he followed the shaker, always trying to keep it lit by the morning light. "I got as close as possible to the shaker and falling nuts while trying to avoid getting hit in the head with walnuts. A walnut with the hull still on it is pretty heavy."

Photo: Crystal Sanchez

Second Place, Crystal Sanchez, Sacramento County Farm Bureau

Sanchez works for a fruit-processing facility in Isleton and her father works on a Solano County farm that includes sheep. "We are fortunate to live on this ranch, so I take advantage of accompanying my father during the evenings to see what kind of work he does." When she saw the sheep gathered and the beautiful sunset, she grabbed her smartphone and snapped the picture. "No filter was needed for this photo, as the scenery was just spectacular. It's as if I told all the sheep to gather around and say, 'Cheese.' It was just perfect!"

Photo: Donald Sodaro

Third Place, Donald Sodaro, Napa County Farm Bureau

Sodaro's family owns a vineyard and winery in Napa. He snapped this photo of employees lined up next to a conveyer belt, conducting the final round of inspection of cabernet grapes before they go to the fermenter. "It was completely spontaneous," he said, adding he thought the shot would demonstrate the hard work involved in producing wine. "It's very tedious to stand there and pick out, by hand, all the little bad things that could taint the taste of the wine," Sodaro said.

Honorable Mentions

Photo: Kera Brichetto

Kera Brichetto, Stanislaus County Farm Bureau

Brichetto began breeding Scottish Highland cattle a little over a year ago after marrying a third-generation farmer. Right after one of her cows gave birth, Brichetto grabbed her smartphone and got this photo in one try, just as the momma cow was starting to stand and attend to her newborn. "Being 9 months pregnant myself at the time, kneeling down on all fours and leaning under the fence rail to get a picture was kind of hard—but I got it!"

Photo: Lindsey Mebane

Lindsey Mebane, Kern County Farm Bureau

A food-safety manager for a grower, packer and shipper of bite-sized potatoes, Mebane grew up on a commercial cow-calf operation and still works with her husband on a cattle ranch. She shot this photo of her brother-in-law, Justin Mebane, as he was taking his horse into the corral when the sun had just come up. "I bring my camera when we work cattle so I can try to capture the Western way of life," she said.

Photo: Megan Cline

Megan Cline, Sonoma County Farm Bureau

In 2008, Cline's father and his business partner opened an organic farm, where this photo was taken. "I saw the beets on sale at the store and I was in awe of their vibrant colors and asked our farm store manager, Linda Fahy, to hold them up for the camera," Cline said. "To me, it's a wonderful representation of the bounty and beauty that comes from our land here in California."

Photo: Kyle Venhousen

Kyle Venhousen, Riverside County Farm Bureau

Venhousen works as a sales representative for an herb grower in the Coachella Valley. The photography enthusiast was out walking the fields one day when he saw this potential for a good shot. "I'm always looking for new angles and perspectives to make a photo interesting. So, for this one, I was lying down in the dirt," he said. "Water is such a precious resource out here in our desert where we live and where we farm. So, I wanted to capture that in the photo."

Photo: Terrence Wilson

Terrence Wilson, Napa County Farm Bureau

Wilson's family has had a vineyard in Napa since the early 1970s. He captured this image one morning after a light overnight rain. "It's a beautiful area. It was very fresh, bright and clear, the sky was really blue, there were some puffy white clouds and some mist just out of the shot to the right," he said. He noted that a little over a year before he took this photo, this entire landscape, except for the vineyard itself, had burned and was completely black.

Photo: Hannah Gill

Hannah Gill, Tulare County Farm Bureau

Longtime cattle ranchers, the Gill family suddenly had nine puppies to take care of after their border collie had a litter. One day, Hannah Gill and her husband were cleaning them off and needed a place to put the clean puppies to separate them from the others. With no container handy, they improvised: "We just started taking shoes off," Gill said. "So, we put this one in my boot and then I looked over and the boot had a cute little heart shape—and I knew I had to take a picture of it."

Budding Artists

Photo: Kaydence Erickson

First Place, Kaydence Erickson, age 12, 
Madera County Farm Bureau

Kaydence's family has been farming since 1879, growing crops such as almonds, olives, pistachios, grapes and prunes.

Kaydence took this winning photo of her Golden Comet pullet, Fudge, looking around curiously as
she stepped down from the ramp of the coop.

"I was able to catch her expression as she walked toward me."

Second Place, Natalie Webb, age 8,
Sonoma County Farm Bureau

A wine enthusiast family, the Webbs have lived
for three years in Napa County, where their
neighbors grow grapes and then make and
share homemade wine.

Photo: Natalie Webb

Each year, the neighbors invite them to help
harvest. In between clippings, Natalie snapped
this photo of zinfandel grapes in the early
morning sun.

"I thought the lighting was nice, and the cobwebs
and dew made the grapes prettier."

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