Growing up on a large hill country sheep & beef farm in the heart of South Otago, Davinia Neale developed a love for all things rural from a young age. Her early memories include her uncle milking the house cow each morning for their milk, being lifted up into the press to stomp wool at shearing time, and watching her Dad head off on horseback to muster stock from the hills.
Davinia's first horse was handed down to her and was a quiet old farm hack. She used to eagerly look forward to the day when she could head off mustering with the grown ups. Being raised in the country breeds a strong work ethic, and Davinia remembers her brother and her getting up early to grub thistles and clean out the stock yards for pocket money. "I think Dad used to get a fright when he received our ‘bill’ at the end of the school holidays!"
In her teens Davinia and her Mum tried their hand at breeding and showing miniature horses, which was great fun. Their proud chestnut stallion Rusty stood only 32 inches high. Davinia's first job was at Telford (a division of Lincoln University), running their agriculture distance learning department and writing farming resources for various courses, from equine to lifestyle farming. "I had great satisfaction working in the rural sector, helping people learn about farming and gain qualifications".
Throughout the years, one thing Davinia always enjoyed was taking photos on the farm – the stock, dogs, horses, people. After her mum passed away a few years ago, Davinia decided to throw herself into photography, and treated herself to her first ‘real’ camera. Since then, photography has grown into a real passion for her, particularly the rural themes. She enjoys using her love of the land to try to capture unique emotion in her images. Davinia finds farming such a great way of life which offers so many opportunities for beautiful photos – "if only you take notice of the small things".
"I work as an advertising consultant for the Otago Daily Times by day, and recently started my small business BackCountry Photography, under which to sell my rural themed canvases and prints. I enjoy capturing the atmosphere with my camera at local country events such as A&P Shows, and I help out country clients who would like relaxed, natural portraits taken on the land. However, by far the best thing about being a rural photographer is meeting lots of great down-to- earth people (and their animals), and indulging my country roots by exploring some great New Zealand back country to which I would not normally have access".
What a great way to appreciate the beauty and find joy in the small things in life. Appreciating the unique and beautiful features around us in rural New Zealand is something you must be an expert at.