Barbara O'Brien

Photographer

Stockholm, Wisconsin, United States

I’m photographer Barbara O’Brien. I'm based in Stockholm, Wisconsin (population 63) — not too far from Minneapolis. I live on a farm with my family, three dogs, eighteen cats, ten rescue Morgan horses, two ponies, seven sheep, thirty-odd chickens, five ducks, and three goats. And as luck would have it, I'm not just an animal photographer, but a trainer as well. I know where to find animals actors, and more importantly, I know how to properly handle them. My love for animals began early. As a kid, I used to sneak stray cats into my house, and since I wasn't allowed to have a puppy of my own, I walked the neighbors’ dogs instead. At 19, I eloped to have a horse. (Horse people get this.) I’m happy to say that yes, we're still married... and yes, I still have horses. Shortly after that I created The Animal Connection, an agency providing trained animal actors for film, television and advertising. Nowadays, I’m both a professional shooter and trainer. During my career, I've tackled a range of assignments, including obtaining a polar bear from New Jersey, capturing 17 cats in one shot, and photographing a 1500-pound cow in my studio. (Did I mention I have my own on-farm studio? clients love it!) I personally audition all the animals I photograph, and I truly love them all — and they know that I love them. This creates a mutual trust that allows me to get close and produce emotive natural photographs. But I don't just shoot animals! I photograph people too. And people with animals. And kids with puppies. Actually, kids and puppies aren't all that different—it’s all about finding out what motivates them, and then keeping them happy. I am so lucky that I get to play with animals every day. I really do have the best job ever! If you'd like to see my book or meet in person, give me a call. I promise to bring triple chocolate homemade brownies, chock full of real Wisconsin butter and eggs from my own hens. I guarantee it'll be the most delicious meeting you’ve ever had. - Barbara