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Portfolio review and business questions

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Russ Meseroll
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Portfolio review and business questions

Postby Russ Meseroll on Thu Jun 16, 2011 2:02 pm

I am a seasoned pro wedding photographer and just shot my first Equestrian show recently. I would like a honest no holds barred critique on the shoot http://rmeseroll.photobiz.com/cart/event_select.cfm?eventID=749058 and also on my presense at the event. I joined EP Net after the show and learned about rail shooters and poachers. I want to make sure I handled myself ethically and did not offend the OP. I called the event commitee prior and asked if they needed coverage. They had a OP scheduled but said I could take photos as it was being held at a county park. I was advised that I could not sell to the participants. During the shoot I was approached by quite a few Mom's and riders asking if they could buy my shots. I quickly referred them on to the OP and he thanked me for this later when I ran into him.
Questions:
Is it ok to shoot at events and use for my portfolio?
Can I submit these to publications?
Should I introduce myself to the local shooters and tell them I am the new kid on the block?
Entering the market ethically and approaching potential clients?

Coming from the wedding business I will be the first to admit that I know nothing about judging and proper form. I only know what looks good in my view finder and try to capture that in a photojournalistic style. I plan on studying this and other sites to learn more about Equestrian shows because I did have fun shooting (nice break from weddings) and would like to per sue more.
Thanks

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Carien Schippers
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Re: Portfolio review and business questions

Postby Carien Schippers on Fri Jun 17, 2011 8:30 am

Hi Russ,
welcome to EPNet and thank you for asking some tough questions. During your trial please spend some time reading the archives, you will see many of your questions have been answered already and there have been some long and sometimes heated debates on the poacher issue. The search tool can be very helpful to find specific topics. I took a quick look at your gallery and while you have some good images there you need work on your timing over fences and at the trot. We have a citique area where you are welcome to post your work for constructive feedback: viewforum.php?f=65

Is it ok to shoot at events and use for my portfolio?

Absolutely. Anyone may shoot at a public event, it is what is done with the images that is often a problem. Too many official photographers have run into other photographers at an event that say they are just there to practice, then proceed to shoot every ride, hand out business cards and post their photos on line for sale, very often at prices that undercut the OP. It is very hard for the OP to compete against this, especially when they may need to pay a vendor fee, a booth fee, extra shooters and booth help, liability insurance etc etc etc..it quickly becomes a losing proposition, and this is why many photographers are giving up the shows as discussed at length in the COTH thread:
http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/showt ... 043d1ed173

Can I submit these to publications?

It depends. Maybe would be the right answer here. Many times the OP will also provide results images to publications, so you would be stepping on toes if you did this too. If you have generic stock/editorial type images I would say those would be ok. If you are shooting people, and especially juniors no release is needed for editorial usage however respect the privacy rights of your potential clients and never use any images for any reason that is unflattering without their permission, the horse world is small and if you piss people off word spreads fast.

Should I introduce myself to the local shooters and tell them I am the new kid on the block?

YES! I think what most of the OP's object to is the poacher that skulks around avoiding us, he knows what he is doing is wrong and he acts guilty :? I have heard lots of instances where a shooter made contact before an event or went to the OP during the event to introduce themselves, a good honest connection was made and oftentimes these two photographers have joined forces at events. This is a win win.

Entering the market ethically and approaching potential clients?

Start at the local level. Find small events that have no photographer and ask if you can come shoot. Find a barn where you can do some fun shoots for groups. Rescues always need good photos and are always short of funds. Do some reasearch on horse activity in your area, there may be events such as rodeo, trail riding, western games, 4H, fox hunting, etc etc.

Hope that helps!
"Doing what you love is freedom,
Loving what you do is happiness"

~ Chinese proverb

Equine Photography by Carien Schippers
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Russ Meseroll (Fri Jun 17, 2011 11:53 am)
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Betty Cooper
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Re: Portfolio review and business questions

Postby Betty Cooper on Fri Jun 17, 2011 10:11 am

Russ, welcome to the world of equestrian photography. On looking at your portfolio of your first event my honest advice is for you to look at some of the books and sites of well known equestrian photographers to get an idea of what is "good style" and "timing" over fences. You need to understand what you are trying to achieve before you can get there. As in wedding photography, you do not wish to portray your client in less than a flattering manner, the same holds true for riders and their horses. We all know every horse and rider is not perfect over fences BUT we don't want to publicize bad form by putting it up in a gallery for everyone to ooogle at. In an industry where a great deal of money is spent on horses, board and training you don't want to offend future clients by posting poor images. This is where editing comes in or my favorite word - DELETE. Example - your image of a close-up of a rider's lower leg and riding boot is technically correct (good exposure etc) but a rider's heels are supposed to be down, not tipped up and the rider, riding off their knee. Every rider has found themselves in this position, but we don't want the photographer to publicize it.

Equestrian photography is a wonderful change from wedding photography, but spend some time searching out good form, reading and possibly attending some Equine specific workshops or better yet, find a pro that is willing to mentor you. Have fun.
"Without enthusiasm, one can never achieve success!"

Sugarbush Studio
Web: http://www.betty-cooper.com
Blog: http://betty-cooper.blogspot.com

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Russ Meseroll (Fri Jun 17, 2011 11:55 am)
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Russ Meseroll
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Re: Portfolio review and business questions

Postby Russ Meseroll on Fri Jun 17, 2011 12:20 pm

Great input Carien you answered some very important questions for me. Being new at this I just wanted to do things right. Thanks for the critique also I know now that having proper form and timing plays a very important role in how the photo is perceived. I have some studying to do that's for sure! Betty thanks for the wedding similarity I can relate to that. We all try to put our couples in the best light.
As far as the shots themselves can you and any other pros give me advice on my choice of:
Composition
Background
Angle of jump
Candids at the show (are they marketable?)
Young rider sales
Overall scenic and artsy shots

Thanks!


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