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What white balance settings do you typically use as the sun is starting to set out in the open, as opposed to earlier in the day in the shade?
It really depends on the lighting conditions and the skin tone of my subject, but I am probably just over 7,000 when the sun is setting. Earlier in the day I would be around 5-6,000.
What’s one change you plan to make to your business next year ?
Implementing more structure on work days/hours, days I schedule sessions, and days I have off.
What do you struggle with as a professional equine photographer?
A limited marketing budget! I would love access to a marketing agency to roundtable ideas.
Do you personally send out sneak peeks before you post them on social media? Or do they see them for the first time online?
It depends. Most of the time I post them directly online. Sometimes I send them via text first to my client.
Any tips for keeping horse owners from stressing out if their horse is being naughty?
First, I try to get the horse back under control. That might look like going back to the barn, taking a break, lunging him, or letting him graze to relax. Next, I assure them that every horse is like this and I start telling stories of every horse that has been worse. I will do my best to keep the horse comfortable and all parties safe while confidently expressing that the images will be perfect despite the naughty antics!
Naughty horses come with the territory of being an equine photographer. Please make sure you are adequately covered with an equine-specific contract.
My dream is to be an equine photographer for a magazine. Do you have any tips to help me achieve my dream?
If you want to work for the magazine, most publications offer internships you could apply for!
If you want to freelance for the publication, I highly suggest joining The Freelance Remuda!
What do you do if the horse is on ear strike and refuses to put ears forward for the entire session?
This is so hard! And it might require photoshopping after the session. Keep trying your best with noises, interesting things to look at, food, and other horses.
Some of my best tricks include: walking other horses off in the distance, opening gates and horse trailer doors, and pushing feed carts.
I remember you saying you set your Kelvin temp manually. What advantage does this have over it being on auto and adjusting it in LR or PS?
If you are shooting in RAW, you can save virtually anything in post-production. However, I choose to set my white balance manually so that I can retain truer colors. When using automatic functions, a very golden sunset would meter a colder white balance to compensate for the warm tones. I want to keep the warmth in the sunset, so I set my own white balance!
What are the most important things/tips to keep in mind while shooting with horses and also their owners?
Safety and comfort are key. At every moment be reading the horse’s body language to make sure that they are comfortable and relaxed. Next, make sure that you are posing them in ways that are flattering for each individual to ensure both the horse and the owner are looking their best!
Best camera lenses for Canons that are good for shooting speed events?
I use a Nikon camera with Sigma lenses, but I would say most people I’m aware of use a 70-200m lens for speed events with a Canon camera.
Do you have any tips for making a black background image pop? How do you get that perfect fade from black near the feet of a horse?
I love photographing black backgrounds when the sun is high so that there is a lot of available light. I also try to make sure there is a great natural reflector in front of them (pavement, gravel, white horse trailer, etc).
To achieve the fade I set my brush to a large size with hardness of 0% on a separate layer. Other people I know use gradient filters. You can see this in action in my Black Backgrounds courses here!
Any marketing tips for the horse world?
For marketing in general: know who you are, what you offer, who you offer it to, and why they need it. Be communicating who you are and why they need what you offer in as many ways as you can to the audience: be where they work, where they play, where they run errands, and where they leisure. Having a consistent message in as many different forms as possible will keep you at the top of mind.
In the horse world, specifically: have stellar customer service. This is a very tight community where word of mouth referrals are key. Be prompt in your communication and be very reliable! One disappointed customer could spread the wrong word quickly.
What are some go-to lenses that a beginner should have?
I think that a portrait photographer should have a 50m lens in their bag. I would say most equine photographers have a 70-200m because it is such a versatile lens.
Favorite lenses and aperture for black background?
My favorite lens is 135m (if I have the room to back up far enough). As for aperture, it depends on how much light I have available. I am generally between f/2.8-4.0.
When a client wants to print photos on their own, where do you recommend they go?
I recommend Artifact Uprising, MPix and Costco to my clients.
Do you do an in-person viewing appointment where you sell products, or do you do it all online?
I do everything online!
Have more questions? I offer Skype sessions if you want to chat!
Fill out the contact form on the home page to book.
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