The Photography Business Check up

At the beginning of the year I shared my goal to take my photography to the next level this year. It started with investing in new equipment, i.e a full frame body (Nikon D750) and prime lens (85mm f1.8), and then using that equipment to shoot two pro-bono sessions with well-known local equestrian entities. I also took a survey on the blog of your opinions regarding portrait sessions/equestrian photography in general, and I thank all that participated- the feedback was incredibly helpful! The photos that follow are just a sample of my favorites this year.

And of course I am now partners with Lilybird Flowers!

Since kickstarting everything back in January, I have officially done more shoots in the last 3 months than I did in the entirety of last year. I used any profits from shoots to pay off my new equipment, and now that it is all covered all pennies earned will go into the #newponyfund.

For the first time since I started my photography side-business, I actually am at capacity for how much I can handle. That’s 5 sessions booked for the month of April, and though it feels a little harried between balancing the 9-5 job and time in the saddle, it’s still a pretty cool feeling. The next step feels like building a pipeline of bookings for the future- and this is something I’m less successful in, as most of my sessions are planned weeks out instead of months. Part of this is probably the financial culture of horse people as well as obvious worries about weather, pony soundness issues, and other concerns.

One of my other goals for growth is to incorporate portraits into my horse-shopping travels, which helps offset the costs of hotel/gas/etc. I also love meeting new people and experiencing the relationship they have with their horses. Every equestrian’s journey is slightly different, and every single one has a story to tell. Facebook has been helpful in spreading the word, as well as my connections (and I include blogland in that!) in various areas. My next possible trip may be to northern Virginia/Middleburg area, maybe even this weekend, and if I’m lucky I’ll squeeze in a shoot while I’m there!

Photographing Cambalda will forever be a highlight for me- Ping is the man!

One of the main struggles I have found with this business is the sheer amount of competition there is. While I feel like I am reasonably priced given the work involved, there are others out there who charge a fraction of my fees, or even work for free. Mostly these are younger photographers looking to build their portfolio or just make a little spending money, but I simply can’t, or won’t, attempt to enter a price war that will leave me not being able to cover even my gas. All I can hope is that my style and quality of work will be attractive above the mayhem, but it’s easily to enter into an oblivion of self doubt when faced with the daily barrage of local photography ads.

Still, I am more than excited about the sessions completed so far in 2017 and flipping ecstatic when I think of all the sessions to come. Sometimes I wonder if I am boring readers to death with my Friday photography posts, but I just love to share this other side of my equestrian passions. Thanks for being part of the journey, and if you have something you want to see please let me know!

 

 

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Photography Friday: Styled Shoot with Lilybird Flowers

When one of my girl friends mentioned to me back in November that she wanted to start a floral business, I was so excited for her, and more than eager to propose we do a photoshoot together that would show off her services.

A styled shoot is an exciting opportunity for a photographer, because you get to exert an unusual amount of control over the aesthetic look of your subjects. In a normal photoshoot, the client chooses their outfits, the location, the horse/pets/etc and so on and so forth- and so they should- its their shoot! But in a styled shoot, the florist and I got to nitpick every detail.

Our model was another friend, who also was my realtor for the House on a Hill 2.0! Katie is a stunning creature and her young Hanoverian gelding, Sully (aka Smush) was a wonderful companion.

The hope is that Lilybird Flowers and I will partner for shoots in the area, using her florals as a wonderful accompaniment to my portrait sessions.

It’s been an exciting week for BGD and I have loved collaborating with Lilybird Flowers so far. Hopefully there will be more floral equestrian shoots featured here in the future!

Happy Friday, all!

Photography Friday: Equestrian Gender Reveal

Horses are a part of our family, even if they don’t (often) fit through our front door! So when Kasey and Trip reached out to me to do an equestrian gender reveal shoot, it absolutely made sense. We scheduled the shoot for the farm where she keeps her retired (maybe to be un-retired!) showjumper Noah, and her baby thoroughbred Tide. We chased the sun all over the farm, and here are the results!

And for the big reveal- this family of 4 will become a family of 5 and welcome their little boy!

Congrats to Kasey and Trip, and happy Friday everyone!

Photography Friday: Ocala Portrait Session


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When I went to Ocala last month, I got to meet my first Julieann’s new Irish import, Ollie. So obviously we had to do a photoshoot with him, and her OG Jasper, in and amongst the stunning spanish moss of Horsepower Equestrian. Ollie is such a ham and a typical [big] baby, and it was hilarious trying to position him so that he wouldn’t try and eat the moss that was so conveniently at face level!

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We also did horsey version of a family photo, and I have to say, when the boys starting touching noses my heart just melted.

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Sadly, the light faded quickly, but not before we wrapped up one of my favorite sessions to date with this sweet moment between J and Ollie back at the barn.

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Lots of photos coming over the coming months, I hope you guys enjoy a little photography every week between now and.. I don’t know.. forever! Happy weekend!

Photography Friday: I Bella and Cambalda

Well, I did tell you guys I was going to hit the photography game hard this year, and so far I have made good on that promise! One of the exciting shoots I did to kick the year off was this rather impromptu mini-session done in the warmup arena at Wellington. Cambalda, or Ping as he goes by in the barns, needs to introduction to the eventing crowd. He’s been on the circuit at the top levels of the discipline for many years now, culminating in being named alternate to the Pan American games team.

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I Bella is a little newer to the eventing scene but no less talented. She finished 12th in the Eventing Showcase and looks to be an up and coming star for the future and one to watch. And while I understand that she is an absolute fireball under saddle, she is potentially one of the quietest, sweetest horses I have ever met- I mean honestly, how many Advanced level horses do you know that will stand like a statue in the middle of a showgrounds without a lead rope???web-ibella-cambalda-5

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I really must thank Erin, Jennie’s groom, and Jennie herself for allowing me the pleasure of photographing these truly special horses. It was an honor and one photography session that will stand out for me for the rest of my life!

Photography Friday: Izze and Oceano

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I had the pleasure this week of photography a special pair. Izze is a wickedly talented young lady who dabbles in dressage and field hockey. Oceano is a 21 year old young Lusitano gelding that has taken her through third level. As Oceano looks to go to his forever home, Izze and her family wanted to get some images of the pair together outside of the dressage court.fb_IzzeOce_143

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Spring in the Carolinas is so beautiful, and this day was no different. Wishing these two the best of luck with everything, and thank you for letting me be a part of this special time in your lives! Have a great weekend all!

Photography Friday: Tricks and Tips

Documenting Fair Hill | PC: JP

Documenting Fair Hill | PC: JP

I’ve been doing portraiture for some years now, shortly after falling in love with photography in college as part of my design degree. But even though I’ve done it for many years, I continue to learn a lot with each session. Here are some of the tips and tricks, for both horse and human, that I use in my shoots.

Start with a clean slate
It probably goes without saying, but a clean horse is going to present itself better than a dirty one. Take an extra moment to brush that mane and tail, and remember to wipe down the eyes. The eyes are the window to the soul, and drawing attention in images as they do, it helps if there’s no eye funk present.

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Know your limits
Though I’ve never photographed small children, I kind of imagine that photographing horses (or dogs, or insert animal here) is somewhat like that. There is a window of time when they will play the game, standing, walking, being loved on, before they just don’t want to play anymore. In order to extend that time, I try to take little breaks when I sense that the animal’s patience is running out. Take those moments to focus on the person, or the environment, or go for a cute grazing shot, but try to be understanding of your subjects- equine and otherwise!

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Make a Plan
Before every shoot I come up with poses and ideas based on the subject I’m going to shoot. I then jot those ideas down on a piece of paper, stick-figure style, including any requests the client may have. That paper then comes in handy if ever I need inspiration onsite, and helps as a reminder for photos I specifically wanted to take. Similarly, I arrive to each location about 15-20 minutes early and figure out exactly what path we will take through the property. This can really make a big difference- for instance, if it’s overcast and you are shooting as the sun goes down (the “Golden Hours”), you should probably plan to visit the shadiest spot at the venue first, when you have the most light. Of course it’s always important to remain flexible, but having a well thought out plan helps make the most of everyone’s time!

Running out of light can of course lead to its own opportunities, but is maybe not ideal for portraits!

Running out of light can of course lead to its own opportunities, but is maybe not ideal for portraits!

Be Patient
When one of your main subjects (the horse) has no concept of what you are after (i.e, the look of eagles/ears up/eyes open/no slobber/etc), it’s not their fault if they are not the perfect model. Staying calm and waiting for the right moment, and not rushing or forcing it to happen, is key. Save your ear-pricking antics (waving a plastic bag on a whip, rustling peppermint wrappers…) for when both models are in position and ready. If you keep up these tricks throughout the session, not only will they lose their novelty (and therefore decrease the likelihood of getting those ears forward), but you’ll also put a strain on everyone involved. Better to wait, and capture that perfect, and more natural, pose!

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Have fun!
This probably goes without saying, but it’s no less important! No matter which side of the camera you’re on, remember that this is all about capturing good times. Find your sense of adventure and keep things lighthearted- not only will the animals sense your mood, but it will help everyone enjoy the experience even more! Besides, photography is fun!

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Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Photography Friday: Amanda, David, Govey & Biscuit

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Amanda is a fellow eventer who wanted some family portraits, and boy am I glad she asked! Joining us in the session was her sweet husband, David, Govenor the NZ Thoroughbred, and Biscuit the pup. Oh and let’s not forget the 1987 Porsche! This was definitely a memorable shoot for me, and I loved including everyone in some equestrian-style family photos!

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A boy with his toy!

A boy with his toy!

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Happy weekend everyone!

Photography Friday: Austin and Flash

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Today’s photoshoot is of a young lady, Austin, and her sweet Appendix gelding, Flash. They’ve been together for some years now, and I am told their satin collection is one that any of us could admire- over 800 ribbons! I think it’s safe to say these guys have lots of success and good times ahead for them, and I loved getting to spend this beautiful fall day getting to know them.

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Have a great weekend all, and happy Halloween!