Wool industry photographer Elena Chalker captures life at Lach River Merinos

Joe Chalker succumbs to the need for a nap in the wool shed.
Joe Chalker succumbs to the need for a nap in the wool shed.

For Elena Chalker, gaining recognition within the wool industry for her photographs is a lucky by-product from documenting her family's life.

Photography became an important part of her life after having children, thanks to a desire to capture the candid moments of their childhood on the land.

Having grown up on the land at Walgett in northern NSW with a shearing contractor father, shearing sheds and the wool industry have always been a big part of her life.

The Chalker family runs the Lach River Merinos sheep stud in central west NSW, meaning Harper, 9, Harry, 7, and Joseph, 4, are also immersed in the industry from young age and it's their experiences that form the basis of Ms Chalker's photographs.

"The wool industry is a massive part of our lives and it's nice for my children to almost relive my childhood and for me to be able to document that," Ms Chalker said.

Initially setting up an Instagram account to share photos of their life with far flung family and friends, she now has more than 1800 followers and her images have been shared widely, including in Australian Wool Innovation publication Beyond The Bale.

"A few people contacted me to be able to paint my work as well ... it's really nice that people are wanting to share my photos on other social media accounts in the industry as well," she said.

A shearer's sling provides ample fun for Joe Chalker during smoko time in the shearing shed.

A shearer's sling provides ample fun for Joe Chalker during smoko time in the shearing shed.

Ms Chalker said she thinks people connected with the wool industry can relate to the candid photographs she captures of family life because it reflects their own experiences.

"It's about the end of day where the kids have been in the shearing shed all day so they've stripped down to their undies, running around barefoot just covered in dirt ... just the realness and the rawness of the country life and that you can capture that," she said.

"It's also important for me to being able to reflect back on those days with the kids ... I still go through the camera roll and even look at a couple of months ago or a year to see how much they've grown up and they've changed, it brings a smile to my face.

Photographer Elena Chalker in the shearing shed on the family's property.

Photographer Elena Chalker in the shearing shed on the family's property.

"I also like being able to portray the wool industry in a true form and stick up for the industry, what we do and why we do it."

Ms Chalker is also part of the Beauty in the Bush Collective, a group of 10 female rural photographers helping to promote each other's work. And she shares photos on the Lach River Merinos social media pages.

"These days social media can only better your business... if it's pictures of rams or new rams we've purchased for the stud, it's another good way of getting all that information out there as well," she said.

This story Peep behind the scenes at a shearing shed first appeared on The Land.