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equine photography as a side job?

This is a discussion on equine photography as a side job? within the Horse Talk forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category
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    03-28-2012, 06:17 PM
  #11
Green Broke
To the OP I would say forget the show idea and do private shoots. I put up a few flyers around a few local barns and a tack store. I wish I would have pursued it more, I didn't advertise well. Lol. Then I would say pay by the hour, I advertised for $50, then make prints at an additional cost.
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    03-28-2012, 06:35 PM
  #12
Foal
Sorry not trying to discourage you, but this is how it is. Also, if you want to shoot at a show, I would suggest you contact show management first and don't just show up and start shooting. I get very angry when I have put in a ton of time and money and I go to a show and see others poaching at the shows that I have booked with. It's not a good way to make friends with other photographers who could potential help you or teach you in the future. The horse world is small, the equine photographer world is smaller... If the show currently has a photographer, I would suggest you not try to sell your photos, because ultimately, you will be stealing sales from the photographer that is already there.

If there is no photographer and you feel up to it (is your work good enough yet to sell yourself as a photographer or are you just learning and aren't totally sure of yourself yet?). If it's the later, don't offer your services to the show just yet. If there is no photographer, go and practice for the day. If you happen to get some nice shots, perhaps go around and let some of the riders know that you go a nice shot. If there is NO official photographer at the show, it is usually ok to hand out business cards.

If there happens to be a photographer at the show, contact the show photographer and ask if you could shadow them. The answer will depend on the photographer. I know a lot of photographer who feel they ahve gotten burned doing this and will say no, but it still doesn't hurt to ask. If the photographer does say yes, whether they say it or not- but most will and may even require you to a contract, DO NOT post proofs online for sale. Instead, use the images for your portfolio and for the learning experience of it. Your portfolio is going to be what will help gain you more shows in the future. If your portfolio displays nicely composed and exposed photos, with the proper timing for strides and movement, you are more likely to recieve a yes from shows as far as you being the official photographer. If your portfolio is full of improperly exposed, poorly timed image, poorly composed images, you aren't going to get many shows that are willing to book you.

As far as the other questions. Typically riders and exhibitors will buy prints and it's on a per print basis. $30-$50 for an 8x10 is average depending on your area. Look up other equine photogs in your area and check out their pricing to get an idea of where your pricing should be. Be honest, if your photography isn't as good as some of the other photographers, it's ok to price yourself a little lower, but not too low. Likewise if your work is truly outstanding and different don't be afraid to price a little higher. Another popular thing right now are digital files and CD's. Many photogs are offering a price per file. If someone wants bulk files, sometimes they offer a bulk discount. Other photographers will offer a CD with all the images from the show (for the particular rider) for a set price (anywhere from $100-$350). I think it's becoming more popular, cause many people want to post things on facebook, myspace, etc.

Shows will not pay you to be there. There are many photographers that offer $5 prints, so why would they want to pay you, if they can get that for free? It used to be customary for shows to sign a contract with the offical photographer stating exactly what the photographer was offering to the show (free images for the shows website or marketing materials in exchange for exculsivity to photograph the particular show and links to the photographers website, as well as advertising that the photographer was on the grounds, etc. Also the contract states what is to happen if other photogs are there poaching- usually if caught, the show comittee will through the poaching photographer off the show grounds.) Now it very rare that you will get a show to sign a contract. In fact, many larger shows now will have multiple photographers. Some shows like (Dressage at Devon), actually will make photographers buy a photo pass. If you are seen photographing with out a photo pass, you will be asked to leave the show.

I have seen photographers try to do a prepaid thing for riders. Like if the rider wants to be photographed at the show, the rider will sign up, list their classes/ride times and prepay like $10-$20. That money that is prepaid, turns into a print credit which will be deducted from the order total, when they go to order their prints. If they don't order anything, it gets refunded or put towards a future show. I have tried that, and really didn't have much interest. Most people figured I was there, so I would photograph them anyways so there was no need to prepay. I do try to photograph everyone, but sometimes it is not possible. Still with parents and friends that have cameras, I really did not have a lot of interest in people prepaying. In fact many riders complain about it (check out message boards).

I'm not trying to discourage you, but show photography is not a get rich quick thing. I have had shows where I grossed $5k-$6k (not all at once, but over the course of a year). And I have had shows where I had to travel, stay in a hotel and figured I would make a decent amount and really didn't get much in the way of orders. Right now, it's hit or miss, and my order totals get lower every year (because of reasons previously discussed). And because of that, I have dropped shows that just werent worth my time. It's not fun, and I enjoyed when my schedule was booked, but when you are losing money it's not worth it.

So no, the short answer is you most likely are not going to make much money at this. My suggestion to you would be, if you have an in with a barn (that shows), offer to shoot exclusively for their barn (meaning don't shoot or sell to anyone at the show but members of that barn). Offer them a print or a CD for a set price, something that will work for you (again make sure the price is in line with the quality of your work- don't charge $200 for poor quality images). That way, you are making some money for your time, and still shooting, without the headache and responsibility of being the Official Show photographer. Also, in that case, I STILL would contact the show photographer-if there is one- and let them know that you will be shooting for that specific barn, but are NOT going to offer your services to other exhibitors at the show. In other words, make nice with the show photographer, and show that you respect them and are not out to steal sales. The day of the show, go introduce yourself to them, so that when you are shooting mistake you for a poacher and potential have you thrown out of the show. Plus, like I said, it's good to make friends with them.

I know personally, if other photographers give me the respect at a show, I will give it back. I don't having photographers come to where I am and shooting the same exact things I am. It really makes me angry. Make sure you give them their space and stuff. I am always happy to offer advice, to people that appraoch me and introduce themselves. There have been occassions where I have been contacted by shows and asked if I knew another shooter because the photographer for another ring couldn't make it. On those occasions who do you think I am going to ask? The photographer that was being sneaky and trying to steal sales from me, or the photographer that was polite and came up and introduced themselves to me and we created a repoire with each other outside of the show after? Just saying. :)
     
    03-28-2012, 06:51 PM
  #13
Foal
Slidestop, competition is not a bad thing. I didn't say that. What I did say, is that if I am the OP for a show, and I PAY to be there, and some random joe-schmoe comes with a camera that he doesn't even know how to use properly and starts pawning his photos off on people for $5 each and I catch him, you better believe I am going to get show management to kick him out. If however there are other OP's and THE show has contacted them to be there, that is a different story (and many of the shows I shoot are like that).

Amatuers should not expect to just show up at a show and start selling their work to people. That would be like a nursing assitant going into a hospital and trying to pass themselves off as a doctor, diagnosing patients and whatnot. Photography is not necessarily JUST a hobby (for some it is), but for me and many others it my career. I'm not stupid, photography is just not a get rich quick. It's about 20% shooting and 80% business and marketing.

But the market is saturated with hobbyists passing themselves off as really photographers, when they don't know how to shoot or how to actually use their camera. Why? Because digital allows you to see what you take right away. You can delete the bad images. You don't have to waste money with developing film, and as for the most part, if you shoot 100 images, at least 1-2 will be good. Look at the wedding industry (I worked in pro commercial lab for years and sold photo equipment). Since consumer level DSLRs have become fairly user friendly, quality has gone way up and the price for a low level DSLR is comparable to a high quality point & shoot, obviously photography has been opened up to more people. I see more people pawn themselves off as wedding photographers cause they got a few nice shots at their friend's or daughters wedding. That when they actually book someone (that isn't family member or friend), they have a rude awakening at just how much goes into being a wedding photographer. And if their prints come out badly, there is no amount of photoshop that can correct it.

People seem to have this idea, that just because it's digital means you can't take a bad/wrong pic...guess what? You can. I don't care about competition (it's what makes me strive to be better at my skill/craft), but the competition better not be standing right next to me, or asking me how to run their camera....and YES...THAT does happen more often then not...
     
    03-28-2012, 07:30 PM
  #14
Green Broke
I'm not saying they should just show up either. Clearly it is wrong to just walk up and pop your photography tent next to the resident photographer's. All I'm saying is photographer is not a protected title/licensure where nurse and doctor. Any Joe Shmoe can pick up and call himself a photographer and not go to jail. Or put on a pair of boots and call himself a horse trainer. That's why I'm trying to tell you ADAPTATION is the name of the game. Making things beyond better in the average market.
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    03-28-2012, 07:54 PM
  #15
Foal
Yes as far as licenses go. In some states, however, you DO need a license to teach riding or operate a stable (Massachusetts is one of those states). If the show, specifically offers a photographer, a show (and they call the photographer "the official photographer" whether this is a written contract or verbal agreement- it is still a binding agreement). That means, if a photographer is contacted by a show and is going to be at the show in the capacity of the show's photographer (verbal or otherwise, as long as the show is recognizing the photographer as "its" photographer), the photographer can go to the show committee and have the show committee deal with other photographers. Can you stop someone from taking pictures of their own horse, no- and there is no reason to...But if someone is going around offering their pics for sale (like passing out their business cards to people), they can be told to leave and not come back for the remainder of the show. Most show/fair grounds are considered private property, so at that point there is really nothing that photographer can do, but leave. So yes, other photographers CAN be stopped. But it will also depend on the show management.

I have had this happen once. I don't really even care if people shoot from the rail. My feeling is, if there is a another photographer with a barn, and that barn can get the images cheap or free, they will most likely go with that photographer. It's those times that I just try to make my work stand out, so they WANT to buy images from me.

The only time I had a photographer thrown out (and yes he was told to leave and under no uncertain circumstances was he allowed back for the season), was when he was blatantly trying to steal sales. At first he tried to come in the ring with me. I told him politely I was the only photographer allowed to shoot in the ring. Then I was in the ring shooting classes &doing win shots, the guy was standing at the gate, as riders left, passing out business cards and also trying to get win shots. He even told some people, including management (he didn't realize who the show comittee members were) that I worked for him. It was my 3rd year doing that show series-with 6 shows per year, so most of the exhibitors knew better. When he blatantly lied to management, he was escorted off the property and told not to come back.

So yes there is recourse. If you are the official photographer for the show, the show management should back you up and take care of it, if it becomes an issue. Would I most likely take legal action against the photographer, no but I could if I could prove that he stole cases and the show was willing to back me up saying they contacted me to be their SOLE photographer. In the real would is this likely to happen? No. But I am seeing strange legal cases pop up more and more that have to do with photographers, so you never know.
     
    03-28-2012, 08:01 PM
  #16
Green Broke
I guess my point is over your head. I agree it is wrong and I even offered advice to the OP to skip the horse show scene! PM me if you want to debate further.

My apologies to the OP for semi hijacking the thread! ;)
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    03-28-2012, 08:10 PM
  #17
Foal
Sorry Slidestop, it's not over my head. I was simply pointing out where there is something that can be done. It happens. She wanted to know about horse show photography. And guess what, I answered her questions and gave her ideas and things to think about as well.

You are right, portraiture is a good alternative if she can get the clients. Still you will have equipment costs and similar things to think about. If you don't like my responses, then please don't read them. Are you or have you been a show photographer? I doubt, at least not at any major shows.... There is no need to insult me. You made your points, I made mine. Grow up and act like an adult or don't post. Simple, huh?
     
    03-30-2012, 01:23 AM
  #18
Weanling
I don't want to get into a pissing match here, but I agree with SlidingStop.
I'm a little tired of the complaints. Yes, there are many more amateur photographers out there than there used to be that produce pictures good enough for the general public. So that shouldn't make you complain, but think about what YOU can offer that others don't, and that will be worth $30 a shot.
Music industry is complaining about the exact same thing, but the truth is it is also getting much easier for very talented people to get exposure than it used to be.
So yes, the landscape is changing, but for the better if you ask me. It's time for the professionals to put something unique behind their work to make it worth the $$.
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