We did Brooke's Senior Pictures in some of the best locations. I do not photograph much in Dallas, but her and her mom new some great spot. Brooke's mom works in the Art Districts and had access to a tall building where the top floor was not occupied yet. We started early and watch the sunrise from a high rise was something unique for me. There where lots of sculptures and other art that made so interesting backdrops. The building was also close to the Dallas Opera House and loved their very shallow pool. I will definitely be back! after shooting in the Art district, we headed over to Deep Ellum, another 1st for me. SInce my photograph locations are usually rural, it was refreshing to shoot at these locations.
I think photos are some of the best presents and that is what Erin planned to do with the images from her session. The photo session was intended to be a present for her boyfriend, but I am sure she used this for much more. I loved how they turned out. It was rather windy so we started out doing black background photos 1st. Them did some outside with her two horses and three dogs. Did some horse and rider portraits where she wanted to show her bond with her horse Can Do. Check out her fabulous belt in those photos! Being a Christmas present of course we did some Christmas Wreath photos!
Carrie & Clay won part of their session an auction where I donated a couple Gift Certificates to the Southwest Reined Cow Horse Association Futurity. They needed some photos to update their website for their horse training business. Had fun doing a wide variety of Stallion photos, horse & rider photos of both Carrie and Clay with horses. AS I left for the day I grabbed a few Ranch images. High quality images is the best way to stand out and look professional. Visit the Volmer's website to learn more.
It has been a while since I have done a Q&A blog, so I thought it would be a good way to start off the New Year. I love to photograph and I love to teach. I am in the process of building a new studio, but it will not be ready for several more months. I decided not to renew my lease on the current studio since it would have had to extend for another year. So for the next few months I won't be able to hold classes, but will still be available for mentorships and lessons.
I received some intriguing questions that made me even think about my processes and methods. Something that I should review more regularly. So one of the most important things I have always stated is, never stop learning - even if you are learning from teaching.
What advice can you give to someone starting out in Equine Photography?
Know your subject and clientele. Owners are picky on how their horses look; many are more critical of the horse than themselves. Horses can look horrible at certain angles - know which angles work and do not work. If you are not a horse person, learn as much as possible about horses; this is just as important as learning photography. Get to know your clientele by being where your potential clients are. Horse Shows, Rodeos, Clinics and other horse events. Learn to market yourself, I took an online workshop years ago from a very successful photographer, He stated that on a scale of 1 to 10 he was a 6 photographer, but a 10 in marketing He is a 7-figure photographer so I will take his advice.
What is the best thing you learned in 2017, business wise?
Learning to say no. I am a equine and a senior photographer. I will do families, weddings, kids and so forth of my current clients but have learned to say no to others. I refuse to just leave them hanging, though, and have a good network of photographers that specialize in many fields that I can refer them to.
What is your number one marketing tactic?
Social Media has changed the way I and many others market throughout the years. When I first started out, I would have said networking. This was easy for me, since I have always been involved with horses and my daughters showed, so I had some well-established contacts. Networking with them and doing sessions led to referrals. Referrals then took over the networking as my best marketing and I developed a referral system. Currently having a good social media presence is my number one marketing tactic. Unfortunately it is not one of my strong points, but I do try to stay consistent.
Any tips for exposing a darker colored horse for a black background? I find their ears get lost easily.
This can be challenging. When you think about it, shooting a black horse on a black background, they are going blend in. What I do is try to have some separation by allowing some light to come from behind. You can use ambient light by leaving a barn light on, or artificially backlight the subject with a speedlight or flashlight. Doesn't take much light to rim light the ears, but you need to use a snoot to concentrate the light to the ear area. You do not have to purchase a snoot; I use a piece of paper rolled around the light and attached with rubber band,
Do you have your own website for stock images or sell them through an agency?
At the moment I only keep my stock images on my SmugMug site. They are somewhat organized but have a long way to go to have it arranged for anyone other than me to navigate. In other words, they are a mess. But I can find images quickly if I get a request for something. Stock images are not a big source of income for me. I find they take a whole different marketing approach. If I were to focus more on stock images I would look into an agency though.
If someone is confident in their skill set and equipment. What is a good base amount to charge for a quality one hour session with high resolution digital images?
Pricing is one of the hardest things to figure out when starting a photography business. There is no good answer. My biggest suggestion is DO NOT look at other photographers' pricing. You must figure your cost of doing business and how much you want to pay yourself. Equipment, websites, insurance, travel, software, education, insurance, taxes and other business expenses add up. Then how much time do you want to spend on that hour session and how many digital images do you want to give? That hour behind the camera is so much more! Booking, preparing your client, travel, uploading, culling, editing, ordering, delivering time can had up. Depending on your editing style, do you spend 5 minutes or 30 minutes per image? If you are giving 30 images and spend 5 minutes editing each photo, that is 2.5 hours just in editing. Spend 20 minutes per image that is 10 hours in editing!! If you spend 10 hours total on a session (all steps) and only charge $250 for the session, you just paid yourself $25/hour and that is before expenses. After the cost of doing business that may be cut in 1/2. Charge what would keep you in business and make a living.
What is your business model?
My main clientele are those involved in stock horse breed shows: Paints, Appaloosas and Quarter Horses. I was already familiar with them so that is where my main focus to market to is. Customer service and the experience is just as important as the product produced. For tangible products, I have changed from print only to mostly digital. I do encourage clients to purchase a tangible product along with their digital. I have samples for them to look at and hold. My ordering sessions have turned more into a selection and education session where they learn about cropping, paper types and the best places to order products from.
On the Canon 5D Mark III there are a lot of AF options. Which do you like to use for photographing just horses? Single point or multiple?
I use the single point 100% of the time for everything. I use the multi-controller to move the focus point to where I what the focus to be on. I like to be in control of what the camera is focusing on. It does take some practice to move it quickly to your focus point, but becomes very easy the more you practice. The only thing I dislike about the Mark III and the Mark IV is the focus point shows up as black and is hard to find sometimes. The Mark II was red and I found it much easier to keep up with.
Interested in learning more I am giving 30% off Mentor Session for those who mention this blog until 3/15/2018. http://www.terricage-photography.com/lessons-and-mentoring/
Some behind the scenes photos:
Caitlyn provided me with plenty of laughs during her session, her fun personality gave me plenty of "bloopers" for the day as well as the laughs. Her mom would say, that is so her! Don;t get me wrong, the girl also knows how to work the camera! We started her senior portrait session where she keeps her horse, Winston. A tall chestnut Off the Track Thoroughbred (OTTB) who also has a personality to match his owner. Together they compete in local Hunter-Jumper shows. We gave Winston a break from "modeling" and headed to historic downtown McKinney for a second location. We then later returned tothe stables Princetonwhere we did some dramaticdusk images with Winston & Caitlyn.
I did Emily's family portraits several years ago and was honored that they had me bad to photograph her senior pictures. I loved all the outfits that she had chosen for her session and Sheila with Horse Show Makeup Artist did her hair and makeup. Emily agreed to do a early morning session and the light was fantastic. Much of the session was done at their neighbors by beautiful stock tank and in their backyard by a wonderful natural looking pool. We then returned to her home do do some of her senior photos with her horse, Vinny. Vinny is an Appaloosa that has tons personality. Vinny is fairly new to Emily and they plan on showing soon.
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The day we did Faith's session was typical Texas early fall, hot & humid. We manage to cheap Faith cool, even though she hauled hay bales in her session. Thanks to professional hair & makeup by Shelia Rybar of Horse Show Makeup Artist, she stayed beautiful the whole session. Faith attends Flower Mound High School and as many of my seniors, is a horse lover. We did her session at her trainers, Pete Lichau of Rose Gate Farm with a beautiful Quarter Horse and Half Arabian; Fancy & Lightning.
Another beautiful morning session! Couldn't have asked for a better day for Bailey's session. It was a little cool, but it was a relief from the hot summer-like days we have been having. We did Bailey & Bella's equestrian photoshoot at Prospering Farms in Prosper, Texas, where she boards Bella. Bailey came out ready to go in super cute dress leading Bella. Bella was a grey almost white horse, but was clean & shiney! Having owned and currently owning horses of this color, I know how much work it takes. We started out at the treeline since we had such beautiful morning light. After a couple clothing changes, we moved to the barn door aisle and did some black background portraits. We did some great equine portraits of Bella as well. Always great to have some fine art to hang in your house that is of something you love!
To book a session like this, contact Terri Cage Photography