Almost every kid wishes for a pet. Or even a couple of them. But few kids develop a passion for pets so profound, animals become their calling, as well as their career. Such was the case with one Missouri photographer, farmer, and now, author.

Kim Carr loves animals. That’s an understatement. She is besotted with them. She is obsessed with them. She studies them, hangs out with them, and photographs them.

As a child, she persuaded her single mom to let her have hamsters and gerbils in addition to the family dog and cat. Her fascination with photography began when she was about ten. She had to earn the money to pay for film and developing as well as for pet food.

She spent summers with her grandparents on their farm, around their chickens, dogs, horses, and a pony. The summer she turned sixteen, she spent every weekend at the St. Louis Zoo. She studied animal science at the University of Central Missouri (formerly Central Missouri State) at Warrensburg, and that’s where she got her first animal bigger than a dog. She worked on the college farm, and a cow had died, leaving its calf. She adopted the calf and walked it like a dog to campus every day, tying it up outside shops and classrooms.

“Everyone knew Dinah,” she says. After Kim graduated, the calf spent a week in the backyard at her mom’s house in St. Louis. Dinah then went to Kim’s grandparents’ farm until Kim bought her own twenty-acre farm near Bellflower. She’s had that farm and a changing menagerie for thirty-one years. Currently, she has cattle, sheep, geese, chickens, ducks, guineas, dogs, and cats.

Today, one of her primary goals for her photography is to document and raise awareness about heritage breeds and the farmers preserving them.

“Like heirloom veggies, they’re disappearing,” she says. “Some of these old-fashioned breeds don’t grow as big or fast, because they were multi-purpose,” she says. For example, the Irish Dexter cattle she raises are docile animals often used like oxen as well as being used for meat and milk production. But with agricultural specialization, today, cows are bred for meat or milk, not both.

Kim donates a portion of her artwork sales to the Livestock Conservancy, whose purpose is to save these rare breeds and maintain biodiversity.

“Never before has my purpose been so clear or rewarding,” she says.

Kim has made her living from photography since 2010. She captures so many special animal moments because she has good rapport with them. She knows how to respect their space, and animals seem to warm up faster to her than to others.

She carries a simple iPhone on her farm, although she also has an older Canon Rebel. She says in natural light, the iPhone does a fine job. “I’m not a technician,” she says. “I’ve never had a fancy camera. I don’t Photoshop. Even though with digital cameras, I could shoot a lot of images, I don’t. I try to ‘eye up’ and capture the moment.”

Party Animals was taken at the Northern Prairie Alpaca Farm in Sullivan. Alpacas were almost wiped out in the 1500s when the Spanish conquistadors invaded the Andes. Now they are wildly popular and can be found worldwide except in the Antarctic.
Kim keeps Red Bourbon turkeys, a heritage breed. Justin Gobble struts his stuff.
Triple Trouble features three Shetland lambs on the Sheepless Nights Farms in Cameron. Kim contacts Missouri farmers with rare breeds of livestock and poultry as part of her project to photograph them.
Kim Carr is at home with her animals. The piglets are a heritage breed, a Red Wattle and Hampshire cross.
Kim photographed winter cardinals feasting on her chickens’ feed through her picture window one day while she was having lunch.
Peek-A-Boo shows a young Scottish Highland, named Herron, at Red Willow Ranch in Buffalo. Scottish Highlands have been removed from the endangered list as of this past spring.
Kim captured Santa Pig, thanks to her friend Serena Stuart of Stuart Farm in Gerald. Many of her customers had requested such an image for their Christmas cards. The Tamworth piglet is a heritage breed on the Livestock Conservancy’s watch list.
The donkey photo, Sophia Smiling, won Kim a $1,000 prize at Silver Dollar City and was leased by a greeting card company and used on cards that have gone worldwide. She says it is one of the best examples of the simplicity of her work.
Kim created notecards with the image, Two Eggs and a Chick, when she first started selling her work from the bed of her pickup truck in 2010 at the Warren County Farmers Market. Now she travels the state selling prints, notecards, and other products using her images at art fairs and other markets.

Kim recently added “author” to her list of accomplishments. Her book, “Dandelion My House Chicken” utilizes images captured around her farm. Find Kim’s book online, at Missouri Life Mercantile in Rocheport, Hermann Farm and Saleigh Mountain in Hermann, Montgomery City Public Library in Montgomery City, and Skylark Bookshop in Columbia.

Find her other work online or at Missouri Life Mercantile in Rocheport.

Interested in other Missouri artists? Explore these two additional profiles.

Read about Wanda Tyner glass artist featured in Missouri Life Mercantile here. 

And Stone Hollow Studio scrimshaw artist here. 

Visit our online store to see more great Missouri artists and gift ideas here.