Meet the man behind Farmer From Down Under
BRAD Shephard likes to get a different perspective on things.
In 2011, while studying for his pilot's licence, the view from above his 2225.77ha cropping property, about 70km west of Forbes, gave him a newfound sense of freedom - a feeling he says was a true "head clearer” during difficult times.
The bird's-eye view also helped him later illustrate the impacts of the New South Wales floods, which inundated more than 1.3million hectares of land.
And now, the father-of-two has taken to placing a valuable GoPro camera in his paddocks and running heaving machinery (including a header) clean over the top of it - just to capture that different point of view.
He is the man behind the Farmer From Down Under, a social media alias with about 4000 followers on Facebook and Instagram.
As an actual farmer first, and photographer/ videographer second, Brad took time away from spraying and maintenance work on his property to talk to the Rural Weekly about how a canola and wheat cropper from central New South Wales became a social media star.
It was Brad's wife Jenny who thought of the name Farmer From Down Under in the mid-2000s.
"I was taking photos of just everyday-type stuff, just on my phone,” he said.
"It was more just to show my overseas friends what happens in Australia, that's how it all started.”
In the '90s Brad completed an agricultural exchange in Canada, where he worked on a grain property in Winnipeg. He still has many friends abroad who are interested in farming Down Under - hence the name.
After achieving his pilot's licence in 2014 ,and buying a Jabiru 230 plane, his eagerness for photography evolved and he started to gain more followers online.
When the floods hit his region in late September 2016, Brad's stunning aerial photos captivated the nation.
A few magazines picked up his images, and before too long he was sitting in a tinnie with Samantha Armytage explaining that 90% of his crop was underwater during a segment on national TV show Sunrise.
"The media attention sort of caught me bit unaware, but I just went with it. It was a bit wild there for a while,” he said.
When the floodwater receded, Brad steered the interest in his photography towards a good cause, making a calendar that donated to the flood appeal.
While he loves photography, his only goal is that one day his photo sales will help him buy new equipment, including upgrading his Lumix GX1 camera.
"I just want to show the city people what happens out here,” he said.
"So there is a bit of link and they can see what's happening in regional Australia.”
With many rural photographers on the hop, Brad has had to find new methods to catch the viewer's eye... including running over his camera.
Using the GPS technology in his tractor and a steel frame he built himself, Brad trialled filming the underbelly of heavy machinery using his iPhone.
"I have done a few of them now, I am just trying to look for something different,” he said.
Despite there still being some floodwater on his property, Brad said the upcoming season was shaping up okay.
The family farm is now on the market, but Brad doesn't think he will leave the agriculture industry if a sale proceeds.
He does, however, hope he can pursue more of his flying.
"It's a really good head-clearer. There is a freedom and you see things from another perspective, you are above it all,” he said.