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Sweet photo of newborn calf and baby goes viral

Carrie Veselka for Progressive Dairyman Published on 29 April 2016
baby and calf

When Diana Mallett knelt in the straw in a dairy barn in Arizona and lifted her camera to take a shot, little did she know that the moment she was about to capture would soon be seen across the world.

Mallett posted a few sneak peek photos of the March 2 newborn photo shoot of Emmie Rose Boyle on her Facebook page, thinking it would be just like the rest of her photo shoots. But one photo, capturing a sleeping Emmie curled up next to a sleeping newborn calf, rapidly spread across the Internet, earning viral status on several websites.

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The photo was shared to the Progressive Dairyman Facebook page on March 3. Since then, it has received more than 1,000 likes and been shared almost 3,500 times.

But that is not all. According to Mallett, her photo has gone viral on several other websites. Cowsmopolitan Dairy Magazine boasted 18,000 likes and more than 10,500 shares on their Facebook page alone. Mallett says she has also been approached by a German website wanting to feature her photo. The photo went viral on another urban cowboy website as well. “It’s kind of spread,” Mallett says. “I’ve tried to keep track, but it’s gotten so big that now I don’t know where it is. It’s out there. It’s on the Web; it’s in the Cloud; I don’t know.”

baby in basket and calf

Mallett says posting a few photos from a photo shoot is standard operating procedure for her. “When I photograph a shoot, I post three pictures, or sometimes it’s just one, with my logo on it,” Mallett says. “It’s something to hold [my clients] over until the full gallery is ready to go so that they kind of have an idea of what they may be getting soon, in the near future, for their gallery. And they love that; they share it right away.”

Mallett made the trip all the way from her home in Blythe, California, to take Emmie’s newborn pictures at the home dairy in Coolidge, Arizona. Mallett and Emmie’s mother, Destiny Boyle, were childhood friends. “Our parents knew each other, and living in a small town, we just hung out when we were smaller. Not often, but every now and then,” Mallett said.

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According to Mallett, the agricultural activities prevalent in the area played a big role in her friendship with Destiny. “I was in 4-H, and she raised horses, and we were just always into the same thing growing up,” she says. “I think we both showed rabbits together.”

Rabbit 4-H didn’t end the trend for Mallett. Her family still takes part in agriculture. “Both of my kids are active in 4-H,” she says. “I raised pigs growing up; my brother had a steer; and my two kids, both their projects are swine. It’s a big part of our town.”

baby in tractor

Mallett says that while agriculture is a big part of her life, she had never been on a dairy until she travelled to Coolidge, Arizona, to do Destiny and her husband Rob’s first baby photo shoot. “I didn’t really know what I was coming into,” Mallett says.

Mallett was fascinated by the organization that goes into running a dairy. “I didn’t realize that there was a system,” she says. “I was really shocked to kind of understand that.” Mallett says she learned a lot about dairies and how they are run in the short time she spent at the photo shoot. “I thought the whole process of dairy cows was quite cool; it was really interesting,” she says. “It was something new that I definitely got to learn.”

Mallett was also impressed by how clean the dairy was. “It was clean; the smell didn’t bother me at all,” she says. “I don’t know how other dairies are, but this one was really kept nice.”

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Mallett says it was fun to do a shoot in close proximity with the cows. “It was kind of cute because I think they have character,” she says. “The cows themselves were like, ‘Moo,’ and [it seemed to me] like, ‘What are you doing, lady?’”

The Boyle family has been dairying since Rob Boyle’s father, William, established the Bill Boyle Dairy in 1971 in Glibert, Arizona. The dairy was moved to Coolidge, Arizona, and renamed The McClintock Dairy in 2006. The dairy is a partnership that includes William; his wife, Elisabeth; Rob; and his brother, Garrett. The McClintock Dairy milks about 3,000 cows. Rob and Destiny also run a separate company that farms 1,500 acres for raising feed for the dairy.

As the shoot progressed, ideas slowly began to emerge. Mallett asked if there were any young calves available to work with. The Boyles had already had five or six new calves born that day, so Rob Boyle brought one into the pen where Mallett was taking pictures and knelt it next to the baby.

baby in dairy cow barn

“Everything worked out perfect,” Destiny Boyle says. “When we went out there, that calf was about two hours old, and we had just fed him a bottle of milk, so my husband was able to lay him down and we were able to put her out there to take the picture.”

The money shot came about thanks to the pliant, sleepy subjects. “I was really worried that [the calf] would maybe buck or kick,” Mallett says. “It slept right through the whole thing, and so did little Emmie.”

Boyle says they started the shoot with the baby in a basket next to the calf, but both she and Mallett wanted something more. “Emmie was cooperating so well, and the calf and both of them were just kind of sleepy and doing their thing that we thought, ‘Let’s just take her out and put her on a blanket right next to the calf.’ And it just kind of happened that way.”

Mallett says the moment was completely natural and not planned in any way. “I wish it was recorded, because it really was such a sweet moment,” Mallett says. “I didn’t photoshop anything. The calf was really asleep and that happened; that’s just how that went. Everyone was real close, and the mama cow was really sweet in the back, mooing away, making sure her baby was doing okay, and it was fun. It was really neat.”

Emmie slept through the entire shoot. “She was kind of out for like three hours, so we were able to pose her with everything,” Boyle says. The baby was comfortable with the noise and the environment. “She was only 10 days old, but she’s been out there from day one.”

baby and parents in dairy cow barn

The ear tag Emmie sports in the viral photo was a special request from the parents to Courtney Treaster of Jacksonville, North Carolina. “It actually goes back to when we got married, and we wanted it to match our engagement photos,” Boyle says. “When we got engaged, we actually did a photo of a cow’s head with our wedding date on the tag and then had everybody sign around it at the wedding.” Boyle says they arranged the outfit and the ear tag so that Emmie’s birth date could be photoshopped in, continuing the theme of how they began with their engagement photo.

Neither the photographer nor the parents ever suspected the photo would go viral. Mallett says it was a different experience being contacted by a German magazine asking to use her photo. “I’m just a small-town photographer,” Mallett says. “I’m known in my town, but I’m not known out of my town. It’s kind of cool. Everyone in Blythe is like, ‘You’re famous!’ I wouldn’t go that far, but maybe I got us on the map in some areas.”

Viral or not, Boyle is happy with the results of the photo shoot. “I’m so glad that I used Diana, because I wanted someone that was going to be able to capture what we were going for,” she says. “[Some] people would think ‘Come out and take pictures of your baby with cows? What?’ But she was a trooper. She got down on her hands and knees, and actually laid on her belly in the calf pen to get that picture. It was just kind of a neat moment.”  PD

Diana Mallett’s photography can be viewed at her website or her photography Facebook page.

Carrie Veselka is a freelance writer in Pocatello, Idaho.

PHOTO 1: This sweet photo of a newborn calf and a newborn baby asleep at the same time went viral across multiple media outlets.

PHOTO 2: Photographer Diana Mallett says the mother cow of the newborn calf was ‘sweet’ in the background of the photos.

PHOTO 3: Diana Mallett captured several other adorable photos, including this gem with the baby, Emmie, ‘riding’ in a pink wagon, pulled by a pink tractor.

PHOTO 4: The photo shoot included an image with Emmie in a box branded with meaningful images. R/6 (top left) is Rob and Destiny Boyle's brand. 6—Y (top right) has been in Rob's family since 1915 and is registered to William (Bill) Boyle, Rob's father. E (bottom center) is Emmie's personal brand. Rob and Destiny registered her for goat, horse and cow.

PHOTO 5: Destiny Boyle, left, and her husband, Rob, knew they wanted a newborn photographer who would embrace a photo shoot in the barn. Photos by Diana Mallett.

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