ROEMER: I started my photography career working as a photojournalist in South Dakota after growing up in Wisconsin. My dad was a photographer at the paper in Green Bay, so I grew up around photography. I went to college for communications/photography, and I interned at a number of different newspapers while going to college. I spent the first 10 years of my career as a staff photographer at a newspaper before going off on my own to pursue clients in the commercial and editorial work.
What is your favorite type of photo to shoot?
ROEMER: Any type of shoot where I can photograph real people in real situations. I have the skills to do product photography or food photography, but I love to focus my creative visual skills on real people in real situations and telling their story.
Describe your most memorable photo shoot.
ROEMER: No specific shoots come to mind as my favorite. What jumps out at me is a moment when I’ve caught that connection between two people or a person and an animal or a person and their environment. Sometimes I don’t even realize that special connection while I’m shooting, but when I’m editing and see that frame frozen in time, and you see that connection through a smile, body language or even a look in their eye.
Why do you enjoy farm-related photography?
ROEMER: I enjoy photographing real people – real, hard-working people – and getting to know their story and what they are passionate about. You don’t get more real than farmers, and they are all so passionate about what they do. During my newspaper days in South Dakota, I shot plenty of assignments related to agriculture, but when I moved back to Wisconsin in the mid-’90s I didn’t have many ag clients. I married my wife 10 years ago, and she grew up on a dairy farm in St. Anna, Wisconsin. I started hanging out with her family and her brother who still lives on the family farm, and hearing their stories of growing up on a family dairy farm rekindled my desire to get back out shooting that type of photography.
Last year, I spent a great deal of time documenting a dairy farm run by two brothers near Denmark, Wisconsin. That was a very rewarding experience, and I think I came away with some great images. This year, I’ve been trying to get out to shoot more drone and aerial images, and I’ve really enjoyed that. You don’t have that human connection, but I love how the land looks from the lower height a drone allows you to shoot from. Probably my favorite shot of the year so far is of a farmer tilling his land near sunset because the low sun adds such great dimension to the dust he is kicking up.
What are one or two tips you would give to an amateur photographer who wants to take a great picture of people or animals?
ROEMER: Pay attention to how the light is hitting your subject. Try to avoid midday light when the sun is directly overhead, causing contrasting light and deep shadows in the eyes. Try to shoot either early in the day or later in the day when the light is more flattering. Look for that candid moment that tells the story of the event or tells the story of the subject.
PHOTO 1: Mike Roemer.
PHOTO 2: Ryan Schlies bottle feeds calves at Old Settler’s Dairy near Denmark, Wisconsin.
PHOTO 3: Tyler Selner treats a group of barn cats to some fresh milk at Old Settler’s Dairy near Denmark, Wisconsin.
PHOTO 4: Preparing the land for planting at Old Settler’s Dairy near Denmark, Wisconsin.
PHOTO 5: Jeff Wunrow passes an American flag as he heads in for another load of seed at his farm near Potter, Wisconsin.
PHOTO 6: Standing in a field of corn near Somonauk, Illinois, a farmer talks with a chemical rep. Photos by Mike Roemer.
Mike Roemer Photography Inc.
Green Bay, Wisconsin