Do you sell prints only to clients or do you send over jpegs/raw files as well. I’ve heard professionals do both. All of my clients receive both prints and JPGs from me. Higher packages also include canvases and albums! There are a million ways to run a photography business, and almost every photographer structures things differently. I think the only thing that matters is that you believe in what you sell and clearly communicate it to the client so they know what they are receiving!
When shooting with your Contax, do you auto focus or manual focus? The Contax that I owned didn’t have a reliable auto focus system, so I used manual focus. I have many friends that use auto focus with their Contax, though!
I’m having a lot of trouble with my photos looking green when I shoot in grass and trees — I try to take them to the edge of the shade but it still looks green in the skintones. You might be too deep into a field when the sun is still too high. I try to have a natural reflector in front of them (pavement, sand, gravel, a white horse trailer), but you could also try carrying a reflector with you! I use two tricks to get rid of green cast in Lightroom. The first is to slide up the magenta on the image. The second is to use split-toning. You will need to adjust this for the particular image, but here is a good starting point for split-toning:
Here is a before/after using both magenta (+14) and the split toning profile above. You can see a lot of green in her dress and on her face but I was able to eliminate it by increasing exposure, lifting the darks, and bringing in magenta.
Kirstie when you shoot in Raw on your digital, how many GB is your photo card? My D750 has two SD card slots and I have it set for them to mirror each other (every picture is written on both cards). For one-hour sessions I use 32gb, but for 2-3 hour sessions I use 64gb SD cards. Once the session is delivered to the client, I delete the original images off of the cards.
What steps did you take to become a professional photographer? I go through my photography history in depth on a recent podcast I did! You can listen to my episode of the Equine Photographer’s Podcast here.
In summary, after I had practiced for about a year and was ready to start charging money, I set up my business entity (an LLC), opened up a business credit card and checking account, got contracts for my sessions, etc. Christina Scalera has an amazing FREE “Legalize Your Biz” workbook you can access here.
Any tips to get sharp photos? I use back button focus, but it doesn’t always work when I want more of the image to be sharp. You might need to micro-adjust your lens to your camera. I noticed an enormous difference in sharpness when I upgraded camera bodies — and I realized that my last body/lens needed to be adjusted. I think there are steps to follow online to do it yourself, or you can take it to your local camera shop!
How do you interact with your clients? What do you say to them while taking their photo, how do you get them to laugh, smile, etc? I am almost always talking during my session. Before I pick up my camera, I just chat to get to know them. Most people are nervous and uncomfortable in front of a camera so I don’t bring out the camera for a good 15-20 minutes while we discuss the location, outfits, how their day has been, etc. I establish rapport from the beginning. When we start shooting, I go through some of the basic things that I will keep reminding them of during our session. From there, I just give a lot of direction “smile at me, smile at your horse’s nose, now look at his eye, tilt your head this way, look down at this spot on the ground, look just over my shoulder this way.” When I want them to laugh, I make them laugh by doing something silly 🙂
Do you use a Holdfast Moneymaker? I don’t! My assistant holds the camera that I am not using (or both cameras if we are walking somewhere). Once I shoot through a roll of film, I switch cameras and my assistant will reload the film for me. I don’t like the idea of carrying the cameras on me because I am SO clumsy and run into everything! The only time the camera is on me is when I am shooting!
As a hybrid film/digital shooter, how much of your session is captured on one vs. the other? It really depends on the light, location, and horse! If it is a cooperative horse and/or a place with a LOT of light, I will shoot 5-10 rolls of 120. If it is a less cooperative horse and/or a low-light situation, I will shoot 1-3 rolls. I will shoot a lot more film on a horse that stands still and doesn’t move quickly, or a location where I think only film can do the colors justice 🙂
Have you ever had a horse spook while you were photographing it (possibly because it was unsure of the camera)? If so, how did you handle that situation? I have never had a horse spook because of my camera, but I introduce them pretty slowly and in a place where the horse feels comfortable. Most of the time, we start shooting in a barn aisle where the horse is familiar and has plenty of friends around him. Horses do spook sometimes out in the fields we are in, and I let them walk around settle for a few minutes before I try to shoot again. If I sense that the horse has a lot of excess energy, I will stop the shoot so that we can lunge him for 5-10 minutes and then continue shooting.
Speaking of spooking, horses are incredibly dangerous animals and I make sure that I never put my clients (or myself) in a compromising position. Additionally, I have quite a bit of liability language about horses in my contract, written by Christina Scalera (a lawyer who owns horses!!!)
I would love to hear/see ideas for “ugly” barns. Because I shoot with such a shallow depth of field (f/1-8-2.8), the location doesn’t matter to me as much as people think. In a head shot, the bokeh blurs out the background almost entirely, so the only factor I really care about is the lighting. As soon as I get to their barn, I look at everything in relation to the sun. I mostly shoot in open shade and backlit situations, so I scout out the most flattering light. If there is a tree on the premises, I usually shoot with that in my background to filter the sun through. I love a green background! If there are no trees on the property I have to get a bit more creative but can usually use the shade created by the barn, building, or horse trailer. If the location is “ugly” I stay tighter with my frames and focus on finding amazing light.
Do you have a certain flow during the session? Or do you wing it based on each client? As soon as I get to the shoot, I make sure I have a good understanding of what my client wants. They might indicate that they really want to shoot with a certain prop/chair/outfit, or in a certain place of the property. I do my best to make sure we get everything they had envisioned for their shoot. If they don’t communicate a lot of specific things they want, I usually start with black background shots in a barn aisle when the sun is high. Then, we will move to an area shaded by trees. Lastly, we will end in a field or an open area when the sun is the softest.
Do you ask the barn owners to sign any type of agreement/release? Or only the client? Can you touch on what liability measures you take? My current contract requires signatures from everyone who participates in the shoot. My contract was written with the help of Christina Scalera. Christina sells templates, but I also worked with her one-on-one to make sure the equine liability portion was very clear. There is a limitation of liability sections that cover normal photography-related things, and then an entire section about the assumption of risk relating to equines.
Have more questions? Follow KMPLearn on Instagram to ask more questions for the next Q&A installment!