Don't let People Discourage you - Zannmari Crous, AffiePlaas Fotografie

Zannmari Crous’s work is nothing short of an amazing farming story told through photography. She is the founder and owner of AffiePlaas Fotografie

She developed her love for photography in high school. She took photos of sports events for the school newspaper and on holidays. 

"I never really thought of making a career out of it, as it was just a hobby. Through my university studies, I carried a small camera, documenting my studies I did during my master's degree in animal nutrition. Once I started working, I also had the camera around just as a hobby and taking some photos for marketing material."

She studied  BSc in Agriculture Animal Science at Stellenbosch University and finished her MSc in Agriculture in Animal Nutrition in 2015. She always had a love for animals and much preferred the company of any animal than people. Her childhood dream was one day to be able to work with animals, either as a veterinarian, train racehorses or as a farmer. 

Taking the Leap

Things became clear to Crous when she got married to her farmer husband and her childhood dream was realised. "I became a farmer's wife and a farmer.  It was then that I decided I want to take my photography to the next level."

 Zannmari realised the need for a photographer in her farming community, be it for engagement photos, baptisms, or animal auctions. "I decided to buy myself a proper camera. I created social media pages and loaded the images I took around the farm into them. Since then I take my camera with me everywhere, capturing all those farm moments people in the city don't get to see or experience."

As a birthday present, her husband bought her a Canon EOS 2000D. She used it for photoshoots and made some money off it. "I then had to choose between adding a new lens or upgrading to a better camera. With some money saved up, I decided to upgrade to a Canon EOS M50. A mirrorless system." 

Advantages and Challenges

The biggest advantage she has is that she lives on a farm and there are always so many different things to photograph. She says lifestyle photography is her second choice as she enjoys taking moments and making them a memory for the people she photographs. 

The biggest challenge was to build up a portfolio and get people to notice her work and the services she offers. "I just kept on taking photos, trying to improve my shots and share it on social media for prospective clients to see."

To manage her finances, she plans accordingly and has always followed through with her initial plan to make the business a success from the start. "I saved up enough to be able to buy the new camera and not having to lend money and that made a huge difference."

Opportunities during Lockdown 

Photography in modern times is more of a luxury than a necessity, and it's dependent on the rising and falling of the clients' income. As a self-employed photographer, Zannmari's business was affected by lockdown. 

Luckily,  the farm was able to go on as usual and she used that time to refine her technical and creative skills in photography. "I improved my agricultural photography skills and that got me noticed by a few agriculture companies interested in my work. I got asked to do some photos of the products for marketing purposes,” she says of the highlights of which she’s sharing on her Instagram account AffiePlaas Fotografie.

As the world gets accustomed to greeting with nods and toe taps instead of handshakes and hugs, Zanmari learned determination and perseverance are the keys to her success. "I was frustrated that I was not getting as many photo opportunities as I'd like to, but with a little patience I got those amazing job offers!"

Just Do It

Her advice to aspiring photographers is to just keep on practicing! "And ask other photographers to rate your work and listen to their suggestions and then go out and apply what they have suggested."

To those who are struggling to step out in business, she says, "just do it. The mountain in front of you is not as big as the fire within you. Take that burning urge to succeed and go do it! Don't let people discourage you. Listen to opinions take what is useful and go on."

When she's not working she likes walking around the farm or take the horses out for a ride. "I like strolling between the grasslands, sit and watch the little lambs or calves play, and stop to smell the flowers. I appreciate every beautiful sunrise or sunset and I am grateful to be able to live on the farm." 

Her future plans include taking more photos for stud farmers that have animals going on auctions. "I would also like to become a well-known name in the agricultural photography industry and I would like to inspire other female photographers."

Get in touch with Zanmari via her social pages: Facebook and Instagram