During this lockdown I have had a few questions about what it is that is involved in running a business, specialising in Equestrian Photography, so here is a breakdown of how we operate and the work that goes in behind everything you see.
First of all, you need to be passionate about the job, you need to have a fire in your belly to do the best you can, a willingness to stand outside in all weathers, rain, snow, hail, gale force winds and extreme heat. An understanding of how a horse moves and understanding of what makes a good shot is hugely beneficial, as a photographer you learn that horses move differently, and the timing may change depending on the type of horse and also the activity. For example, you would shoot Prelim Dressage completely differently to an Int II/Grand Prix test, as the riders like to see the movements at different times, for Cross Pole showjumping it's about getting over the fence, for National 1.30m and above, it's about the horse stretching over the fence and sometimes the landing. Once you've mastered the timing, you then need to make sure that your photo has the correct composition (subject in the middle of the frame) this is hard to get consistently correct, even now, I have my off days where I am wonky slightly, or over to one side of the frame. Every day is a school day!
Booking a venue/Booking an event:
This is a very hard thing to do, as you are technically competing against businesses who may already be in touch with that venue, have photographed there previously, or have inside contacts (committee friends, livery yard etc). I was incredibly lucky to secure Wellington, it all started because I was fed up of working in an office, answering emails, making phone calls and taking deliveries, this wasn't a job for me, I'm an outdoors person, always have been. So during my lunch breaks I would scour the internet for venues, venues with competitions that would push and progress my business, venues with shows that would enable me to showcase not only my ability, but also the businesses potential. I came across Wellington's website and thought to myself, if I don't try I'll never know, so I popped them an email, enquiring whether they had a photographer currently, and included an introduction into my company, where I had trained and what I had experience in photographing. I was shocked when the email came back to say that they did not have a photographer and would be keen to have me and my business as their official photographer and the rest is history :)
Choosing what products to offer:
What products do you choose to offer to your clients? This took me forever to work out exactly what I wanted to provide to my customers, you have to take into account cost, both to the business and to the customer, popularity of products and where to get stock to produce the products. From doing research on other websites, and seeing what other photographers were offering it was easier to gage what products I wanted to provide. There are still items that we would like to offer, but we do feel that sometimes, you can be given too much choice and it ends up being an unenjoyable experience as the whole process feels overwhelming. We like to keep our products simple, clean, easy prices and offer savings on bundles. Pricing is another thing to consider, think about it this way - if you go into a shop and they're giving away all of their stock, you question why in your head "because it's cheap and tacky?" "because it's no good?" this is why getting your pricing structure right is so important, you don't want to be overcharging as that will put people off, you don't want to go too cheap as people may think your products and images are also cheap, but also remember that trying to increase prices is harder than reducing them down.
Ensuring you've got the right kit:
Having the correct kit is like buying the right type of horse for your sport, you wouldn't buy a Shetland and expect to jump it round a competitive 1.20m track, nor would you buy a Clydesdale and expect it to win the Grand National against Racehorses. We choose top level cameras because of the capabilities within the cameras, fast burst modes, greater depth of fields, quality of the images, and the ability to change minor settings so we have more control over the produced image. We also ensure that we have full waterproofs for our cameras, if you're spending thousands of pounds on a camera, you don't want to risk it getting water damaged! We are constantly looking at the latest equipment available to see if we could do with updating any of our kit. All of our team have top end equipment, and for the newer team members who are training with us, they learn on one of our older cameras which we used as a backup.
Having the ability to print images onsite is a huge bonus, to not just to competitors, but also to us, as this allows us to see what images are most popular, and also gives us an opportunity to listen to any comments made whilst browsing, if there is any feedback to give to the photographer/s then this is relayed immediately. Using the most efficient style of printers is another, until I started LEP I had never heard of a Dye-Sub printer - this means there are four layers of colour that are printed onto the photograph, giving you a cleaner, truer copy of the image on the screen, we use Dye-Sub printers when printing onsite as opposed to laserjet as the quality, speed and cost is more efficient. Part of a onsite printing facility is ensuring that its spacious and easy for customers to navigate their way around, we use tablets inside our unit as viewing screens, as most people now own or regularly use one, we selected 10" tablets so that this maximises the amount of screens we can use within the unit and also the largest screens that would fit comfortably.
If you have any questions about anything you've read above, feel free to pop me a message:)
Stay Safe Everyone,