My day job usually finds me either rolling around in manure, or elbow-deep in a malfunctioning robot. Sometimes it's both at the same time. I work as a technician at a company that specializes in agricultural robots. We have robots that milk cows, feed cows, and even clean up after cows.
Since I'm in the habit of hauling my camera everywhere it usually rides along with me in my service van. After a service visit is over and the tools are packed up I will try and get some pictures of the various pieces of equipment around the barn. I also update the company website with photos of new projects and run print advertisements with my photos of our equipment.
The challenge is: all these barns look the same after awhile. The lighting is usually not ideal, with either harsh shadows through huge doorways during sunshine or dim overhead lighting while it's cloudy. The robots themselves don't change much either. They are designed to do the same task over and over, 24/7, and only the day-old machines aren't covered in dust and manure.
However, I've found that the similar backdrop at each location forces me to look at different ways to shoot. The go-to look for interior shots is the super-wide angle photo, so I'll sometimes look for tight crops that still tell a story about the location. A barn interior has lots of leading lines that can be played with during composition. Even the harsh shadows can be used to enhance a scene. Sometimes I'll get lucky and snag a dramatic sunset photo with the barn and farmland.
Barns and cows are definitely not the most glamorous of subjects, but by forcing myself to practice and look for new ways to photograph them, the practice I get while at my day job has benefited my work as a photographer after hours.
To see some more robots at work, check out www.westcoastrobotics.ca!