Photographer Captures 4-H 'Losers' in State Fair Shows

Posted by Krissy Howard
kids with goats
All photos by R.J. Kern via Center Awards

They may not technically be winners of their local county fair competitions, but one photographer is turning these unwanted goats into works of art with his original portraits. 

Usually, when a goat or sheep isn't chosen at their local county fair, they are deemed to have lost. In photographer R.J. Kern's latest photo project, appropriately titled "The Unchosen Ones," the "losers" are the real winners, and receive their own special place in the spotlight with professional, original portraits.

girl with goat

Taken with their handlers in front of a solid colored backdrop whose ends are in clear view, the animals are posed and captured, almost resembling beauty pageant contestants or TV stars behind the scenes and on set.

boy with goat at state fair

The series is part of an ongoing five-year project for Kern, which has involved treks to Iceland, Norway, and Germany, in search of his ancestral roots. Inspired by the composition and lighting of European landscape paintings, Kern sought to extend his trip to his home state of Minnesota, which is where the project took place.

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"I wondered how I could continue this project in my own home state," Kern said in an interview with Star Tribune.

"I moved around a lot growing up, which made me think of roaming animals and roots."

Kern looks to "personalize and endear the often-overlooked domesticated animals" of the agricultural world with his series.

boy with goat

Kern's project is funded by a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board and can be viewed at Gallery 360 through May 28, 2017.

Tell us what you think of these photos in the comments below!

All photos by R.J. Kern via Center Awards

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Photographer Captures 4-H 'Losers' in State Fair Shows