Click goes the shutter: Shearer swaps handpiece for camera and the results are impressive


Of all the rural settings to photograph, the hustle and bustle of shearing in historical sheds must be among the most spectacular.

That’s certainly the case according to James Braszell, a 27-year-old shearer who has built a career as a self-taught photographer.

He doesn’t pick up the handpiece himself much these days but instead travels the country with camera in hand, doing shearing photography, wedding shoots and everything in between — all with a rural theme.

It’s a life that’s a far cry from growing up as a town kid in Miners Rest.

“Bit of a funny story, because I never grew up on a farm and had no agricultural connection at all growing up.

“When I was in my later years at high school, I had friends who were doing a bit of rouseabouting for a shearing contractor … I more or less just rang up the contractor and they gave me a job at the end of year 12.”

James Braszell started playing around with photography while working as a full-time shearer.(Supplied: James Braszell)

It didn’t take long before he started bringing a camera along.

“In my early years as a rousie I bought a camera and started taking it to work with me and started taking photos,” he said.

“As the years went on I got a photography business going and I started doing wedding and family photography, and now I’m at the point where I’m almost doing the photography full time and phasing the shearing out.”

He remains entirely self-taught; not that you would know it from his snaps.

“I just make it up as I go along. I’ve never done a course or anything, I’ve just taught myself by playing around with the camera.”

A shearer in action
It’s all smiles on the board when James Braszell brings out his camera.(Supplied: James Braszell)

The older the shed, the better

Mr Braszell said while older shearing sheds could be tough to shear in, they made for great photos.

“They’ve all got a lot of character and a lot of stories.

“The newer sheds are definitely better to work in, but the older sheds are definitely better from a photography point of view.”

Having spent so much time working in shearing sheds, he knows how to stay out of people’s way while the job’s on.

Shearer shearing
James Braszell says older shearing sheds are a photographer’s dream.(Supplied: James Braszell)

“There’s always something happening, people penning up, people throwing fleeces, people dragging out sheep,” he said.

“There’s no shortage of things to photograph when you’re in a woolshed.”

And of course the classic throwing-of-the-fleece photo is a go-to option.

“I think everyone who’s ever had a camera in a shearing shed has always tried to get that photo. You can just get photo after photo of that, it’s timeless.”

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