Thursday, January 19, 2012

How to Help your Horse Show Photographer

Horse Show Photography can be hard work and with more equine photographers no longer providing services to equine events it may be hard to find a true equine photographer to come to your event.  Why? Most can be explained in this excellent article by Shawn McMillen - Horse Show Photographers Are Facing a Crisis. It explains the reasons for the lack of photographers at events, mainly due to the cost of doing business and the abundant copyright theft.  He was also cheered and jeered in the comments. Most jeers were for the cost of images and prints, so I wonder if they really read the article. Many of the cheers were from fellow photographers or honest customers. As a show manager copyright infringement is out of your control.  You can help deter or report it, educate others, but you can't prevent it.  So what other ways can you keep your photographer to come back?

When I  photograph an event as the official photographer, I make every attempt to photograph every horse. If I did not get a horse, it is usually because the class was large and too short. Of course there other reasons, as needing to do some camera maintenance and an occasional short break.  We work tirelessly, the days can be long and the elements can be unforgiving. In most cases we do not get paid for our time, only for the images we sell.  So when I see numerous others with cameras at events, it can get a little discouraging.  I have no problem with those photographing family members and friends, but those that take photos of almost everyone is different story. What is even more annoying is when they find a place close to you and using the high speed shutter of their camera click, click, click away.  I find it extremely distracting when I am trying to time my shots to get the best image and most appealing placement of the horse's stride.  I was recently photographing a show and because of the nature of the show was ask not to be in the arena and photograph from the stands. No problem, it makes it a little more difficult during rail classes, but doable. Since I am in the stands, I try not to block the spectators view.  At this show, another photographer would stand right above me and click click click. Not only was it distracting for me, but they blocked every one's view behind me which in my opinion was rude.  I stay quiet and out of the way, so many may not even know I was there. As I have always said, the main purpose of a show is to compete and for others to watch. Photographs are just something extra.

I have photographed many equestrian events of several different disciplines. Some of them I was asked to be the photographer, others I asked if one was needed. Some of the show manager are great and almost treated me like royalty, but others I can't even the time of day.  Giving me the royal treatment really isn't necessary, but not I really don't like to be cast aside. Either way, we both have the same end  goal which is a successful day.  Letting the exhibitors know where their photos can be seen and purchased is part of the success for both of us. Having professional photographs done at your event gives it an extra special touch and your exhibitors really appreciate it, but if they can't find them it doesn't help anyone.  So if I can't get the info I need or my info isn't made available to the exhibitors, it isn't worth the time to photograph the event.

Trying not to turn this into one big complaint, so will get back to the main purpose of this post.
How can you help your show photographer?  Here are my top ten suggestions.
Before the show
1. List the photographer on your show bill and other marketing pieces. Helps the show and the photographer-see above.
2. Add the photographer to the show website, facebook page and other web-base listings with their link.
3. Give a list of exhibitors name and numbers, ride times and so forth so they can easily identify exhibitors . Some photographers will separate classes or exhibitors into galleries for easy viewing.
4. Provide them with show schedule, classes and if applicable patterns. This will help them plan their day and having patterns will help them find the best spot for the best image.
5. Let them know were they can and cannot go or if you prefer them only use available light and not use flash or strobes.
During the show
6. Announce that there is an official photographer taking photos, Many times when this is announced several will come up to me and make sure I take photos of them or someone else. They also tell me they didn't know I was there until it was announced
7. Offer a place for the photographer to set up a table if needed or get business cards ahead of time and include in registration packets. They may also want a safe place to keep equipment.
8. Inform them of any unlisted breaks or changes in the schedule. That way they know when it is a good time for them to grab some candids, get a requested portrait shot or even take a break.
9. If you see someone else soliciting photos, kindly ask them not to. If they not stop, ask them for a copy of their business liability insurance and tell them it is require to take photos. That should do the trick.
After the show
10. Provide the photographer with email addresses so they can notify them where to find images. Show management can send also this out.  Be sure to copy the photographer when you sent it out, so they know it has been done.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

2011: A Look Back at Some of My Favorite Photography Moments

First off I want to thank everyone for your support, some very fun times and choosing me for your photography needs.  Although photography is the way I pay my bills and have had a few not so great experiences- I love my job!  
I thumbed through the images I took in 2011, which was close to 100,000. A majority of those were at equestrian events, but many were portraits, other events, practice shots and my own personal photos of family and friends.   The images I chose weren't necessarily the best images, but ones that spark a memory, brought a smile to my face  and a few "bloopers".
Please enjoy  and  I look forward to a great 2012!
In January I took a trip to Colorado with my horse judging team. We took a couple quick trips to Rocky Mountain National Park. Since I have only been there in the summer, I was so glad to see it in the winter and yes it is beautiful! The scenery is something I will always remember, but  watching the girls attempting to walk on the ice and snow was much more entertaining. 

Texas is not really known for large snow amounts, but it seems the past few years we have been getting much more than normal.  The horses seem to enjoy it for short periods of time, but I really think they were ready for our normal Texas winters.

Its all about the kids! Several of my favorite moments. Starting at the top row a little on the images.
I watch this toddler throughout the whole show, never stopping and full of energy. Near the end of the days I think her batteries wore out.
We do snow angels, why not a dirt angel!
Doing some backdrop photos, I just thought this was the cutest team.  Cute pony and one happy child.
Nothing like friends and a well broke horse for a good laugh and a great way to end the day.
I LOVE lead line classes. Great way to start your show career with high fives and blue ribbons.
Had to throw a non horse image in. Being a Dachshunds owner, I just loved this session with her new dog.
I photographed a local Equestrian Special Olympics and this youngster just won a medal.   In this case the saying "a picture is worth a 1000 words" is very appropriate.
Last minute touch ups

Had the pleasure of photographing some cool horses this year, so many colors and patterns.  Was amazed at how many Leopards I saw. The Dressage image is an App/ Friesian cross!

Barrel Racing can make some interesting Hair-dos

I have been visiting and photographing the horses at Remember Me Rescue for a few years now. The horses pictured above are Perfect Peace, King of Speed and Light on Broadway  I am always impressed by the intelligence of the Thoroughbred and how willing they are to learn and trust. In the lower center photo Donna is using pool noodles to de-sensitize and I had to laugh since pool noodles are what I I use to get horses attention and get that nice arched neck.  King wasn't even phased. The center right images is available for purchase and profits will benefit RMR.  In the below images, is permanent resident Yeah Me Do "Yammi"

What a fun bridal session. Even the dog smiled!

Taken before a trail ride, this border collie looks like he has it all under control
I photographed several events, although I think I should call them milestones. The background image is of the Bar J Wranglers, from Jackson Hole Wyoming, they performed at a 75th birthday surprise party (man with the surprised look) and I have to say I really enjoyed their performance. The other top photo was a coming home event for one of our Marines.  The turn out was unbelievable and everyone wanted to shake this Marine's hand. I made sure I shook his hand and thanked him before I left. I photographed a young ladies birthday party, and a group of teenager girls are so fun to photograph.  They do not cover their faces  when they see you coming, instead they strike a pose.  One of the most heartfelt moments I had all year was at 65th birthday party, were a father did the opposite and gave his kids presents. These presents were some important symbols of their father's life; world champion belt buckle, bronze star to name a few. This act literally brought tears to my eyes. The last image was taken at a wedding, I have a ton of images of this young man dancing, he had some moves.

This is really my least liked photo of the year, but it was did change my life for a few months. Early May I broke my ankle in 2 places, as well has breaking a few ribs. I was bed ridden for a few weeks to "avoid" surgery. Thank goodness those days of being confined to the house paid off.  I did avoid surgery and used the time to research photography techniques, update my website and practice a little photo shop.
My broken ankle cause my family to delay our annual trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, something I look forward to the minute we leave the previous year.  The scenery is incredible and the wildlife is abundant. I love the mountains and my favorite one is Long's Peak, which can be seen from many different points of the park.

I do believe this would be classified as a Photo Bomb

Not sure if these would be considered a photo bomb, but more of a total photo take over

Some of my favorite photos to take during equestrian events, is candids and the lineup. Many times the subject doesn't even know I am taking the photo and they are much more relaxed.  Can also catch some sweet moments with the rider and their horse.

If I said once, I have said it 100 times, those who help me get horses attention and ears up, work harder than me.
I love the connection humans have with horses or is the connection horse have with humans.
This turned out to be a favorite spot for me to do photos.  No traffic, good light and nice scenery. I only used it twice, but I did try to find similar spots for other photos. Larissa was working on a modeling portfolio and we got some great shots of her.  Thanks to JJ's Designs for lending some awesome outfits

Some photo sessions can get a little long, so sometimes goofing off happens and I am sure to catch it on camera.  If someone comes by on a Harley  during a photo shoot, why not stop them and ask to pose with you. If you text during a session, be sure to put your hat on sideways.  Never hurts to dance in between frames. If there is a chair and it starts to rain, pick it up and put it over your head and act like a rock star.  If you are 6 foot, get on a kids mechanical horse, no one will ever see. Give your steer a kiss, they kiss back, and their tongue even gets stuck in your hair.  Goofy faces are always good.  Not sure how to pose next, just strike the famous Karate Kid pose.  Bringing your boyfriend and a rope with you to a session will invoke some fun

October was a fun and uplifting month.  Since October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month I photographed several events  that were fund raisers for different non-profit organizations.

So much pink! 
So much support!
Saw many tears and cheers
Met many survivors, fighters and loved ones.
Admired the volunteers who put in countless hours organising these events, and the many volunteers who made this events possible.
Cheered for those who raised the funds and obtained sponsorships for research, the under insured and awareness.
Prayed along side of all of them

When geese interrupt your session, chase them! Another favorite place ( and family)  to take photos, too bad it is in their own front yard and not a public place. Jealous! Their place is beautiful.

Who says chivalry is dead. After finishing her class her saddle came loose. After dismounting and fixing her saddle, she looked around for a mounting block, but none was around.  Her horse was very tall, so one of the gentlemen in the staging area offered a knee as everyone in the stand cheered her on.

Once again I attended the Breeder's Cup.  We also did some farm tours, watched some morning workouts, attended a luncheon and took a look at some of the horses in the Keeneland sales.  Starting at the top and moving clockwise,  yes that is Goldikova and she looked right at me ;[) , Sarafina getting a little excited in the post parade- I think she was trying to get all the photographer's attention that were behind her and had the cameras pointed else were. St Nicholas Abbey looking my way while in the winner's circle after winning the Breeder's Cup Turf.  Euroears during morning work out, he is gorgeous.  We had as special visit with the great Peppers Pride who was heavy in foal. My daughter had two hyperventilating moments-1st meeting one of her favorite racehorses; Blind Luck and second, meeting and even getting hug from Mike Smith. Center is Court Vision after winning the Breeder's Cup Mile as a long shot.

Its all about the blanket!
Thanks to Three Chimneys and Lanes End for hosting open houses so we could visit some our favorite stallions.
Can you name all the above stallions? 1st person to name them all in order top row 1st, left to right will win a 11 x 14 print of one of the above images of their choice.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Kirk & Kim 12-31-2011

What a great way to end the year! Short and super sweet is how I describe this ceremony.  Kim found a very cute but very elegant venue located in Historic Downtown Lewisville. Kirk & Kim opted to have a private ceremony with Kirk's mother, his adorable daughter and Kim's father.

Wedding venue: Whitestone Celebrations