One of the things you come to realise when you run a service based business, is that not everybody is your client.
The sooner you realise this, the easier it is to let go of people who chose to book someone else, or who tell you’re too expensive/cheap.
So, with this in mind, I wanted to give you some advice for when it comes to choosing your equine photographer. Because, there are quite a few of us and although we are all offering a similar service at first glance, we are actually all very different and serve quite different audiences.
In short, there is room for all of us and it’s up to you guys, our potential clients, to pick the photographer that best suits your requirements. My best advice is to have a look around, see what is on offer and see what suits you. Here are some tips on how to do just that…
One of the things that most people will want to look at first, is cost and budget. There is a vast range of pricing, when it comes to equine photography, from the super cheap to the luxuriously expensive.
My advice, when it comes to looking into cost, is to understand the value, rather the actual price.
Yes, that photographer over there might charge £20 for an hour session and all images on a disc, but a) what is the image quality like, b) are they running an actual business, with insurance, experience, knowledge and the skills they’ll need to produce your images and c) do you actually like their work? How does it stand up to the other photographers you’ve been looking at?
A good photographer will have spent years honing their craft. And by that I don’t just mean their skills behind the camera and editing your images. I mean that they’ll know how to look for the best light, how to put a client at ease, how to spot the most effective backdrops, how to maintin a level of customer service and where to source the highest quality products from. These are all things that are worth paying for.
Cheap doesn’t mean value for money. But equally, super expensive doesn’t mean high quality, either. Whichever end of the spectrum you are leaning towards, ensure that the photographer is providing high quality and good value, for the money you are spending.
I’ve had people turn me down because I’m both too cheap and too expensive, which just proves that you can not suit everybody.
Products and Packages
Sticking with a similar theme for the moment, it’s important to understand, firstly, what you’d like to achieve out of your shoot and secondly, what your photographer offers.
If you are after digital images and your photographer only sells printed wall art, or vice versa, then they’re probably not going to meet your needs.
Every photographer has a unique style to their images. It’s a bit like handwriting and very often it just develops naturally over time. So, you need to make sure you like the style of image your photographer produces.
Do you prefer moody matte look, or bright and glossy? Are you a big fan of monochrome or sepia? Do you want natural light or a more dramatic, studio style shoot?
Do your research and compare different images, by different photographers, to see which style best suits your tastes.
Experience with Horses
There are a lot of different types of photographers out there; Wedding photographers, landscape photographers, family photographers, canine photographers. And in my opinion, the equine niche is one that requires specialist skill and knowledge. However, I see so many photographers with no equestrian experience offering to ‘have a go’ at photographing horses.
I have been in plenty of situations, over the years, that could have very quickly become dangerous or stressful, if I hadn’t had a good understanding and background in horses. One of my biggest pieces of advice would be to ensure that your equine photographer is ‘horsey’ themselves.
Not only for reasons of safety, but many non-equestrians don’t have a clue that a horse should have it’s ears forward for photos. They don’t understand conformation, how to stand the horse up correctly, the spooky nature of the animal, or that horses might quickly get bored and fidgety.
I can not count the amount of times my lifetime of experience with horses has assisted me in this job, so I urge you to please pick a photographer who understands these beautiful but unpredictable animals, well enough to safely get the best images possible.
In my own personal instance, I post a lot online. I post daily content to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, aswell a whole variety of posts on my blog and a weekly vlog onto Youtube. So there is plenty of chance for you to decide whether you like me or not.
And that’s important. Not everybody likes everybody!
Take a look through your chosen photographer’s social media pages and get a feel for the type of person they are. It’s also advisable to have a chat with them either on the phone or via email/messenger. I love it when people send me an enquiry and include some details about their horse, because it gives me a chance to chat back and not just send them a very formal price list, in response.
A photoshoot is quite an intimate experience and many people feel incredibly vulnerable in front of the lens, so it’s important to ensure, as far as possible, that you and your photographer are going to get along.
And the last thing, when you’ve thoroughly done your homework on all of the above, is location.
I say last thing, because many photographers (myself included) are willing to travel a certain distance for the right price. However, obviously, if you have two photographers you love, and one is on your doorstep, whilst one is a long distance (and high travel expenses) away, it makes sense to choose the more local of the two.
However, as I said, most will travel, within reason and it’s much more important that all the other factors fall into place first. It’s no good booking photographer you can’t afford, with a style you don’t really care for, just because they’re in the next village.
So, I hope this has been somewhat helpful for those of you thinking about having an equine photoshoot any time soon.
Naturally, I have a passion for photographing everybody who loves their horses, so of course I’d love for you all to choose me to take your photos. (That and it pays the bills, obviously) But I am far more realistic than that and I am well aware that I am not the right photographer for everybody.
And that really is fine. Because equally, I truly don’t want to work with people that aren’t going to absolutely love my work and fully appreciate everything that goes into creating their images.
Whatever you decide and whoever you choose, I really do hope that this post leads to you comissioning some absolutely beautiful images of you and your horses, to hang proudly on your walls and be admired for years to come.