Our guest today is Barbara Bower, a professional photographer and author from northeast Ohio who specializes in equestrian photography.  She’s got some great tips for taking portraits with horses, getting started in the business and remote in person sales.

Focus on One Niche

You can’t truly specialize in everything.  When you focus on a niche, for Barbara it’s horses and dogs, those specialty images will really start to shine.  You don’t have to stop shooting everything else.  Barbara still photographs families and high school seniors but that’s not where she spends her time or money marketing.

Tips for Photographing Horses

In some ways, photographing horses isn’t all that different from photographing people.  When Barbara arrives at a job, she looks for the best light, location and background before she takes a single portrait.  She also recommends taking some time to get to know the horse before you begin to shoot.  Talking to the owner or groom about how sensitive the horse is will help you know how to work with them best.  Horses will also give you their own cues.  For example, if the horses ears are forward they are very aware of their surroundings and likely tense.  If their ears are to the side, they are relaxed.   Speaking of ears….it’s extremely important that a horse’s ears be up in portraits.  What if they’re down?  Barbara recommends keeping some peppermints in your pocket.  Very often just the sound of the candy being opened will do the trick but if it doesn’t, throwing grass in the air, waving a whip in the air and even rustling a branch are all things that will make a horse’s ears stand up.

Photographing horses takes and lot of patience and creative thinking.  Horses don’t hold poses and nothing that you have them do will last for more than a few moments.

Remote In Person Sales

Barbara travels quite a bit to photograph horses but even her local clients are often hard to pin down for in person sales appointments.  Barbara uses ProSelect to present the images online during a viewing appointment that she hosts via Go To Meeting.  Thirty years of experience has taught Barbara that online proofing galleries are “the kiss of death”.  By going through the images with her clients, she is able to help them make decisions.  To help make the process simple, Barbara brings samples of products to sessions.  She recommends not showing anything smaller than a 20×24, “When they see them they immediately understand the value”.

StickyAlbums as Part of the Sales Process

People do want to own digital files, so Barbara uses the lure of a StickyAlbum as an incentive to spend a certain amount and receive it as a gift and also the option to purchase it on it’s own. It’s worked so well that she recently sent former clients who didn’t have this option complimentary albums as a way to get back on their minds.

Listen to the podcast for more tips on photographing horses and doing remote online sales. Be sure to check out Barbara’s new book, Equestrian Photography Creating Beautiful Images of Horses and Their Humans.