As you’ll know, I’m lucky enough to work with some amazing photographers in the industry. And I was even luckier when Sophie Callahan gifted me a shoot as a Christmas present. Bless her. The shoot was one of her portrait shoots, but I also wanted to use the opportunity to take some images for my website. Because images are SO important for your brand. Now, I’ll level with you – I was a teeny bit anxious before the shoot, but definitely in a good way. But I thought I’d use my experience and share it with you. So if you’re thinking of having a shoot and you’re on the fence, I can (hopefully!) reassure you. So this first part is all about getting ready for a photoshoot for your brand.
Getting ready for a photoshoot for your brand
Well, the first thing I did was book the date with Sophie… and I’d suggest that is THE place to start! I was lucky in that I could be really flexible on the date… the only real issue for me was the time of year (my horses were involved, both live out, and they don’t look their best in the winter!). We managed to coincide Sophie’s visit with a trip to The Game Fair as it was at Ragley Hall this year, which is only about an hour from me… so that worked.
So, the date was booked… and it snuck up on me a little. The weekend before I had all my clothes sorted… but realised that even though the horses looked good coat wise, they were a bit grubby. I have a skewbald and a piebald. And both have a lot of white. More than I realised. I think you start to realise how much white a horse has when you’re scrubbing away at it! So, the areas of prep… for me at least…
What I was going to wear
For me, I wanted to wear clothes that I was comfortable in, looked good and I loved. I felt quite organised, despite a small pile of ironing. Then it was hotter than the sun, so the tweed gilet (by Rydale- SO gorgeous!) and burgundy tweed jacket (by Really Wild Clothing, that I bought at Badminton and was really excited about wearing), were going to be featured, but not in the central way I expected. Because I was pretty sure I would melt. I also had three shirts (two by Joules, one by Rydale), my newly cleaned Hiho Silver jewellery (thank you Michelle!), my Fairfax & Favor Explorers with plum tassels, two fedoras from Mackenzie & George and a Bora sunhat from Annabel Brocks. Sounds like a lot, but I want to use these for a good while, and I didn’t want to look the same in every image!
The heat concerned me. But I shouldn’t have worried. When Sophie arrived I showed her my pile of clothes and she made sure that we took pictures of everything I wanted but in a way that would ensure I didn’t overheat. So we got everything ready and in position before I put my gilet, jacket or fedora on, for example. And actually, I didn’t feel that much warmer for wearing them because everything was slick. Complete credit to Sophie here… I wouldn’t have just sweated and got stressed.
What about the horses?
Well, after my realisation that the horses needed *some* work, I set to work on Monday afternoon and gave them both a good scrub… and they looked much better for it. I did manes and tails and legs, and trimmed what was needed. I had left myself Thursday morning to rewash them, but was pleased to get the bulk of it done. Of course, horses being horses, they needed a fair bit of rewashing on the Thursday morning too. And a bucketload of mane and tail conditioner, but that’s life.
Now, although I am pleased that I washed them twice and did all this (although I’m pretty sure they were both convinced they were being sold!), I was cross that I couldn’t make them really shine. They live out 24/7. And you know what horses are like. You nearly kill yourself washing them and then they roll. When Sophie arrived I apologised profusely for the state of them, and she wasn’t even remotely concerned. She (quite rightly) pointed out you couldn’t even see the grubby bits I was stressing out about. Argh!
And the location for the shoot?
I’d always planned to do the shoot in the field, but as for exactly where, I didn’t really think about it. I knew there was plenty of space, but I also knew that Sophie would know what would work the best and understand light and shadows and all the things that I don’t really get and make all the difference. And I was right. Sophie had a little look when she came and got two or three ‘locations’ in the field earmarked.
Are we talking about a shoot for a brand or a portrait shoot?
In my case, it was both… actually, we also did a commercial shoot for a client of mine too as the location worked and we had the right ‘resources’ (Ok, my children!!) to make it work. I’m going to go into this in much more detail, but it was an absolute breeze and so much fun. Sophie’s good with horses, we know this, but she’s also very good with children and people, so it worked incredibly well. But more about that soon.
For me, I wanted pictures of the horses with me, pictures of the horses without me, and some ‘headshot’ ones of me, because I’m being asked for more and more of these and keep recycling one from a while ago! I’m planning to use all of these on my social media and in my content.
But isn’t preparation key to a good shoot?
Yes, yes it is… but you don’t need to stress yourself out over it. Sophie is very, very laid back and is there to help. She’ll help you put outfits together, help you with your horses when you get changed in the middle of a field (!), listens to what you want and also gives ideas to make it as successful as possible for you. And more than this, she knows what is editable and what isn’t. As the shoot progressed, I was getting hotter and hotter and was worried I’d be way too red (it was the hottest day of the year I think…), but Sophie assured me it would be fine. And she was right. I’ve seen all the pics now – the image on this blog is one – and I have to say I’m delighted.
As I may have said, Sophie very kindly gifted me this shoot for Christmas, but I have already booked next year’s shoot (not an actual date!), so if that doesn’t reassure you about how much I loved it, nothing will. For someone who doesn’t like having their picture taken, this is quite a bit deal!