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What is your advice for first rodeo/horse show? What are things you did or didn’t do that you regret while running, getting ready to go, setting up your trailer, etc.
I have never photographed an event in an official capacity! If I were to do so, I would make sure to assist a very experienced photographer until I felt comfortable with all aspects of the job.
Why did you start doing photography?
I sold the horse that meant the entire world to me when I went off to college. It wasn’t until after he was gone that I realized I only had show proofs with him. I didn’t have any photographs that showed our relationship. When I picked up my first camera, horses were the first thing I practiced on because they were the only thing that meant something to me. To this day, I am still trying to deliver to my clients the image that I wish I had for myself.
What are you doing about the GDPR?
My girl Christina Scalera with The Contract Shop has an amazing resource for GDPR.
*40% off through 5/28!
Tips for photographer mamas? How do you handle a newborn and traveling for shoots?
I bring an assistant for the sessions and a babysitter along to every trip I take! I have a “no baby at work” rule, so we have been renting Air BNB houses to leave my daughter behind with a babysitter while we go to shoots!
I suggest you start small and “practice”. I did several driving trips and one flying trip back home to Oregon before I ventured off for work trips. This way I could experience the stress of traveling with a baby before adding the pressure of the photo shoots.
Are you hosting any workshops in 2018-2019?
I don’t have anything on the calendar, but I always do one-on-ones here in DFW!
How do you edit with such a bright and airy style while still preserving shadows and blacks?
First, my Nikon D850 preserves detail very well. Second, I lift “shadows” and “darks” considerably in Lightroom and then add blacks back in.
How can you make sure the horse stays intrigued enough to be in focus and not moving all over?
An assistant! It is my assistant’s job to keep the attention of the horse. I have never mastered the art of getting ears while shooting.
When paying, do your clients put down deposits and pay before the shoot or the day of?
A non-refundable retainer & signed contract saves the date. The balance is due the day of the shoot.
*the contracts I use are 40% off through 5/28!
What advice would you give to up and coming photographers who are trying to book sessions?
Shoot personal work! Follow a strong passion of yours and hone in on the story you want to tell. Show what you want to shoot – you will attract what you put out there.
What camera and editing software do you use?
Do you have a system for posing? Your clients always look so natural and comfortable. How do you achieve this?
No system at all! And I never walk into a session with a prescribed method for posing, or even any poses in mind. I want to flatter each horse and each girl individually so I pose them how I see fit. Additionally, my poses are limited to how cooperative the horse is being!
I make an effort to arrive at least 30 minutes prior to our session starting so that I can carry conversations with my client and get them to relax by just talking to me before I ever pick up a camera.
Do you use a contract?
Absolutely! In fact, here is the bundle of contracts I use. EVERYTHING you need: equine template, portrait template, stock photo/commercial template, T&C for your website, NDAs, model release, print release, and more!
*contracts are 40% off through 5/28!
How many shoots do you book a month? How did you get to the point where you have limited shoots? (Aka how did you get your clientele, what did you do? Did you reach out to farms? What was the best way you find for clients to find you?)
First, I limit travel. I will take one flying trip and one driving trip per month. Next, I just make sure I have enough reschedule days for poor weather. For me, the perfect balance is 2 shoots per week. Admittedly, I did 16 shoots this month, so I am surely not the best at keeping perfect balance.
Your favorite softwares for client organizing, book keeping, taxes, other forms of business softwares. Any business courses you could recommend directed towards taxes, budgeting, cost of business?
I don’t have a course that I recommend for taxes and budgeting. My strongest recommendation is to consult with a local CPA.
When are you going to host a workshop in Texas?
Maybe one day! I know where I want it… I’m just not sure when yet!
What is the process for your business model? Like as far as your workflow and such?
Inquiries go into 17Hats, which is where I send my questionnaires, invoices, and contracts from. A signed contract & paid invoice trigger a workflow within 17Hats: welcome emails/packages, delivery of session prep information, session reminders, upload/cull/edit, follow up emails, print/ship proofs, blog, etc.
What is your most successful marketing tool? What brings in the most bookings?
Word of mouth! People tagging me on social media for their friends and barnmates to see, alongside personal testimonies, are far and away my best marketing opportunities. I know that is a generic answer, but the best way to win new clients is to take AMAZING care of the clients you have! Go above and beyond to give them an experience they will rave about.
Do you take interns? For example, just even come work alongside you for a week or something?
I had my first intern this semester (shoutout to the incredible Alicia Porter!!!) and I will definitely consider more for semesters going forward.
What program(s) do you use for editing?
Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.
What are some things you do to build great relationships with your clients?
Hand written letters, surprises in the mail, conversations over text and social media, and visiting them at horse shows!
What type of metering settings do you use? Do you change them for different situations within the same shoot, or do you usually keep it the same? How do you decide how and when to use different metering settings?
For exposure and temperature, I do all of my metering manually. I control my own aperture, shutter speed, and ISO depending on the conditions and I only shoot in Kelvin.
What marketing strategies would you recommend to a photographer just starting out, who doesn’t yet have a reputation or many referrals? What were your most effective strategies for reaching/bringing in clients at the beginning?
In the beginning, I tried to shoot anything and everything so that I knew what I was passionate about. Once I found a small bit of direction, I dove in as hard as I could in the specific niche I needed to be in. If you follow what sets your heart on fire, I think that will naturally set you apart and attract the right people to you.
Recommendations and suggestions for keeping a photoshoot as safe as possible (i.e. How do you minimize the chances of the horse spooking while being sat on/ridden? What do you do when a horse is being difficult – not standing quietly, etc.?)
The more hands, the merrier. In general, when someone is riding a horse I have someone stand on every side of that horse (just out of the frame, but only an arm’s length away). I also do this when a horse won’t stand still. Sometimes they just need an “authoritative figure” on each side to keep them in line!
Why don’t you use hashtags in your posts?
Great question! I didn’t notice a large enough difference in engagement or growth when I used them and when I didn’t. I think they are annoying and too much work to add, so I gave it up almost a year ago!
How do you avoid over exposing the sky but properly exposing your subjects? I’m trying to move towards more light and airy photos but the sky is killing me.
I underexpose by several stops when I shoot digital. I bring up the darks and shadows, and touch exposure last when I edit. I also will slide highlights down sometimes, too, to keep the sky! But, at the end of the day I edit for skin tones. I will sacrifice a blown out sky for a gorgeous skin tone.
Lightroom CC or Classic?
My Lightroom says “Adobe Lightroom Classic CC.”
When posting without a bridle or halter and lead rope, how are you able to pose them? Or do you use a halter and edit it out?
I only use that pose with the perfect ponies who are standing still (and all gates are closed!!) Sometimes I will edit out a rope around their neck, but in general they are actually naked! Just great horses… who sometimes take off running.
What is best to do for photographs when shooting? Correctly expose in camera, or just a touch underexpose to bring up in Lightroom? I’ve been told to underexpose just a bit in order to capture all the details, but is this the correct way?
People do it every possible way! I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to find your personal style! I have friends who nail exposure in-camera and others who overexpose in-camera. Personally, I underexpose and bring up the shadows in post.
Do you have any suggestions or advice for a photographer who say, has the gear, equipment, etc. but lacks confidence and is a shy person by nature?
I recommend putting yourself in situations where you will succeed. Go into each session or interaction with a single, specific goal. Build your confidence along slowly, success after success.
Failure is inevitable. I think it is important to not dwell on what went wrong. Feel great about what went right, and dissect what went wrong only so that you can learn & improve next time. Keep falling forward!
What’s your favorite film camera to shoot with and favorite type of film?
Personally, I loved shooting my Contax 645, but the Hasselblad H1 works better for my business because of the dependable autofocus.
Favorite film is Fuji 400H, forever and always.
Tips for getting published on covers?
Reach out to the publisher to learn exactly what they are looking for, and subscribe to the magazines so that you can study their aesthetic and content that they publish. Each magazine has a different pulse, and each magazine has very specific content they are looking for. Learn the nuances of each one and send them images that are curated specifically for them.
Tips for when the rider is horseback. I feel like I am too short to get a flattering angle while the subject is horseback.
I am 5’2″! In general, I like to photograph at or below a horse’s withers. And when a rider is mounted that is no different. I don’t try to reach a higher angle because I don’t want to dwarf the horse.
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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