1. Where do you call home? I grew up just south of Portland, Oregon, so a part of me will always consider that “home”. But let’s face it… I belong in Texas. Right now I call Carrollton, Texas home with my husband and two crazy dogs.
2. How did you find your niche in photography? Finding my niche was really natural. When I got my first camera I started taking photographs of horses, because horses meant something to me.
3. Did you study photography in school? I have never taken a photography class. I went to Texas Christian University and studied finance. While in school I did an internship with Arden Prucha Photography, in Fort Worth, Texas, which is where I learned almost everything: shooting, editing, business. Arden was so generous to open up her home and business to me.
4. What is in your bag? Click here!
5. What tools do you use to edit with? Adobe Lightroom and PhotoShop. I use Mastin Lab’s Lightroom presets and Totally Rad’s Replichrome presets, in addition to a mix of my own.
6. What are your top 5 natural lighting tips? I only shoot with natural light. I have never used artificial light (flash) or even reflectors before. So here goes my tips:
a. It is all about the skintones. Focus on finding a lighting situation (direct, open shade, sidelit, backlit) where skin tones are luminous and even. I am constantly re-positioning clients to a place where their skin looks best.
b. PRACTICE. For me, learning a natural backlight was a process of trial and error to know how my different lenses each interpreted the sun.
c. Underexpose digital and overexpose film. In natural light I also overexpose my film 2 stops and underexpose my digital 1-2 stops. I shoot digital in RAW format and bring the exposure up in post processing. I underexpose so that I do not lose the detail in whites and wash out the photo.
d. Filter the sun. I think trees do the best job filtering the sun! The photo above is an example of the sun being filtered through a tree.
e. Use your hands (or a hood)! If the light is strong, I recommend using your hand to “clip” or shade the sun from the lens. I keep hoods on my lenses to serve the same purpose.
7. How do you meter your lighting? I always meter my film with an external handheld meter for the shadows. I rate Fuji 400H at ISO 100 and Portra 800 at ISO 560.
8. What is your favorite film? Fuji 400H, no doubt.
9. What is your most successful marketing strategy? It is hard for any firm to attach meaningful metrics to marketing strategies. In terms of dollars, I would think Facebook is my marketing workhorse. Instagram is definitely my favorite marketing initiative. But I keep an ongoing list of 10-15 new marketing ideas to implement and then try to cycle them in as I have the time!!
10. Do you ever pay models for shoots, or do you use paid sessions when you submit images to magazine or blog features? I have never paid a model for a shoot, and there are only a handful of times I have compensated someone for their time with the photographs. The vast majority of the work that I submit to magazines and blogs is paid shoots with my clients. My model release has check-boxes for people to give me permission to use them for my own marketing.
11. Who are your favorite photographers? I am really obsessed with the wedding industry and follow the work of Erich McVey, Jose Villa, and Ryan Ray. I think they do an amazing job of capturing a lot of emotion and beauty in their images. I don’t follow a lot of other equine photographers. There is an aesthetic in the film wedding photography world that I would love to bring over into equestrian portraiture.
12. How does your pricing work? All of my shoots are in packages that are “all-inclusive” and combine the time of the session, the high resolution files, and 4×6 proof prints. Some higher packages also include large wrapped canvases. You can see it all here.
13. Do you sell high resolution photos? Unlike many portrait photographers, I include the high resolution photos in ALL of my packages. I do this for many reasons. I genuinely believe the photographs are my client’s and they deserve the freedom to own them and print them as they wish. It is a standard in the wedding industry to deliver ALL of the files. I think it should be a standard in the portrait space, as well. When they lose their beloved horse, those photographs will multiply in value and they will be so happy that they have all of the photographs to love and cherish. A photo that may have been overlooked in a 30-minute ordering session might be their most favorite photo 10 years later. I don’t want to keep that from someone.
14. What kind of flash or lighting do you use? I only shoot with natural light. I have never used artificial light (flash) or even reflectors before. I definitely think reflectors are useful and I may use them in the future, but my advice for shooting with natural light is that it is all about the skintones. Find a lighting situation (direct, open shade, sidelit, backlit) where skin tones are luminous and even. I am constantly re-positioning clients to a place where their skin looks best. When I focus on skintones sometimes a dark horse will become a bit too dark. In these cases, I increase the exposure using a brush on the horse in Lightroom.
15. Do you shoot in RAW or JPG? When I shoot digital, I shoot only RAW because I underexpose digital by 1-2 stops and bring the exposure up in post-processing.
16. What is your advice for shooting with a horse and rider (for a non-horse photographer)? This is such a great question. When you think about what makes your photography inspired things like lighting, composition, location, tones, emotion, connection, posing, expression should come to mind. Every photograph I take I am trying to connect with my subject to bring out a desired emotion or expression. The same idea holds true for both my horse and human subjects. Two pieces of advice to help you connect to that horsey: bring an assistant (or have your client bring extra help) that is dedicated to posing and grabbing the attention of that horse, and: ears, ears, ears. Do anything and everything to get the attention of that horse to bring their ears forward. Your horses’s owner will care about the expression in his eyebrow and the position of his ears. You want that horse to be calm, comfortable, and interested in you. Food works well.
17. If you could be photographed by anyone, who would you choose? Richard Avedon
18. If you could shoot alongside anyone, who would you choose? Jose Villa
19. If you could photograph anyone, who would you choose? American Pharoah. His eyes have a story to tell.
20. When will you be back in Oregon/Washington? My next trip is in August and it is booked. I have another trip this Christmas!