In this episode I chat to special guest, equestrian photographer, vlogger, blogger and all round legend, Sophie Callahan. You’ll know I love Sophie from, well, most of my content(!), but on this episode we’re talking about commercial photography. Commercial photography sounds a bit scary, but it isn’t – and more than that, it’s really important for your business. So, over to Sophie… and a huge thanks to her for her help with this episode.

Have a listen here…

Sophie Callahan on commercial photography

Show notes for the Small & Supercharged Podcast – Episode 3 – Sophie Callahan on commercial photography… what you’ll hear in this podcast episode…

  • The scope of commercial photography, the kind of shots that can be taken and why. Sophie has done a lot of work for country and equestrian brands and she shares some quite eye-watering examples!
  • How to organise a shoot, whether you’re a brand or service provider
  • How to work out which photographer is the best one to suit your needs, what kind of questions to ask and more.
  • Even though it’s a good idea to find a photographer whose style aligns with your business, a photographer will usually adjust their style, if requested, to align with your brand better… but it’s also important to remember why you chose them.
  • You can be as involved (or not!) as you like. Some photographers will source models, locations and everything else – you just send the product. But there are opportunities to be more involved with your commercial shoot too.
  • What to send your prospective photographers to ensure they understand your vision and can do what you need.
  • Why it’s important to be clear about what you want to do with the images after the shoot. Images for social media, like Instagram, will be taken in portrait rather than landscape, for example.
  • Copyright and what you can do with the images you have taken.
  • The importance of communicating with your photographer to establish what you can and can’t do with the images you have taken.
  • How you can cost shoots and possible different options available.
  • How often you should have a shoot for your brand, whether it’s a service or product based business.
  • Why phones are great, but the camera isn’t what you’re paying for!
  • The importance of good photography on social media.
  • The difference good photography can make, even to eBay sales.
  • Combined shoots and how these can keep the cost of photography and commercial photoshoots down.
  • The difference between lifestyle and packshot photography, if there’s a place for both and how to know which to pick.
  • The value of using photographers who are skilled in your niche for lifestyle images – so using an equestrian photographer for your equestrian business, for example.

A HUGE thank you to Sophie Callahan for being an amazing podcast guest and for helping to demystify commercial photography. Sophie is EVERYWHERE on social media – here is where you can find her:

Thanks so much for dropping in. Don’t forget you can subscribe on Spotify, iTunes or Podcast Player, just search ‘Small & Supercharged Podcast’ or my name.

If you’re an Apple fan, you can subscribe here.

what I learned from my equestrian photoshoot with Sophie CallahanWell, now the dust has settled, I wanted to talk to you about 10 things I learnt from my equestrian photoshoot with Sophie Callahan. Why? Because I learnt such a huge amount in quite a short space of time that I wanted to share. I think you might find it useful if you’re thinking of having a shoot, well, that’s the aim!

What I learned from my equestrian photoshoot

  1. Preparation is key, but don’t kill yourself over it. It was incredibly hot when Sophie came to do my shoot. I’d washed the horses twice that week and had put a huge amount of time into getting them, their tack and myself ready. I feel like this helped a lot… but I wasn’t ‘ready’. They’d rolled, I was hot and I was thinking I should wash them again. This wasn’t the case.
  2. You will forget you’re being photographed. To start with, I was very aware that Sophie had a camera and it was pointing at me, but then we were chatting and I was messing with the horses and I forgot about it. And the pics I love the most are ones where I have clearly forgotten what’s going on.
  3. Know what you want to wear… but listen to advice too. I knew what I wanted to wear – I’d ironed clothes – but it was so hot that I was getting worried about that. Sophie suggested the order that we would shoot and helped me with the styling before we started the shoot, so that helped a lot and allowed us to crack on when we were in the field.
  4. Be comfortable. I had a ‘trouser crisis’ in the morning. Not a real crisis, more a ‘what should I wear?’. The advice was to go for comfort. Yes, you want to be smart, but if you’re really uncomfortable you won’t feel happy and will spend most of the shoot pulling at your clothes.
  5. Editing helps. I love Sophie’s editing style – in my time with her I learnt a huge amount about her ideas on editing and I can see it in the images I have. I don’t think the editing has made the images seem artificial in any way, I think they’ve made them more realistic in some ways, I mean, surely that’s what editing should be about? To make images look better but more a best version of the real you?
  6. Black background shots are amazing… and very easy from a handler point of view! When Sophie suggested a black background shot, I was concerned because we don’t have a stable. ‘No worries, we’ll use the field shelter’ and that’s what we did. I know there’s a fair bit of ‘witchcraft’ involved on Sophie’s side (OK, editing), but from a handler point of view, I just did as directed and it took a few minutes, and the results are stunning! If you have an equestrian photoshoot and this is suggested, give it a spin!
  7. She has tricks. Worried about your horse’s ears and the direction of them? Don’t be. Want to know the best way to stand or where to put your hands? She’ll know and help you.
  8. It’s not about the camera. I’ve known this for a while, but I think in an age where phone cameras are nothing short of incredible, this is a really good point to make. You might have seen Sophie’s pic on her Instagram feed that I took at The Game Fair? It’s a great pic – I’m really pleased with it… but although I pressed the button (well, TWO buttons) and used the big camera, it was really Sophie who took the picture. She set it all up on the camera, looked at the background, light, edited it, etc etc. I know it’s not the camera that does the work. It’s like giving someone a computer and saying ‘taa dahhh, you’re a writer’. You’re not, You have a tool that is capable of allowing you to do this. It doesn’t mean you are it.
  9. It’s actually really fun. Even in the heat (did I mention it was SO hot?!). I had one of the best afternoons ever. It was fun and relaxed and the horses behaved. And I was confident in Sophie’s ability.
  10. Photographs of you are important. I have known this for a long time… and when I started getting braver on Instagram and showing my face on pictures, the engagement and response I got increased. Now, can you imagine if those pics were actually really good ones? And where else you could use these and what it would/could do for your business? Exciting, isn’t it? We’ll throw huge sums of money at websites, for example, but what about what goes on them? I put one of Sophie’s posts on my Instagram a few days – the first one I had put on… as I write this, it’s one of my best performing posts ever in impressions, best ever in likes, second best ever in engagement. All the rest have been up for weeks, if not months. I’m obviously hoping to beat these, but it’s pretty impressive, isn’t it?

So, there are my 10 things. If you have any questions, then do reach out to Sophie and ask, or drop me and email and I’ll do my best to help you. I’m so excited to use the images over the coming weeks and months, add them to my website and lots more besides… keep you eyes peeled!

And to find out more about Sophie, or equestrian photoshoots, have a look at her website here.

Can you repost professional photographs on social media?

Quote image by Sophie Callahan Photography.

In a fairly recently Monday Q and A on my Facebook page, I received a variation of this question: ‘can you repost professional photographs on social media?’. Now, I want to put this into context a little. The person who posted was asking about a rider that they sponsor. The rider had added what was clearly a professionally taken image to their social media media. So does that mean that the company can repost it? Well no, not necessarily.

Can you repost professional photographs on social media?

If I was giving a one word answer, that would be no. If, in the case above, a rider has posted a professional picture on social media, this doesn’t mean you can automatically. Even if the rider has asked permission for the photographer and this has been granted, this doesn’t automatically mean you can…

So, first of all, your rider might not have the proper permission. Many people buy prints and take pics of the prints and then post these. This isn’t right. Often, photographers will provide social media images (that can be purchased for not much money) that CAN be used on social media. Some photographers add this in a package when someone buys a print. They all don’t but some do.

Now, even if the above has been done properly, that does not mean that you as a business can repost without permission. I mean, people do, let’s be honest about this, but you need to reach out to the photographer and get their written permission for this. Some may request further payment… you don’t have to pay this. But if you decide not to pay it, do NOT repost the image. Please. It’s not good. Many photographers are happy, if the image has been purchased correctly and you credit it to let you use it on your social media. I did speak to a few photographers about this and they agreed.

What about sharing a picture?

Sharing an image from the original source is a bit different. If the photographer has posted the image and you share direct, then technically there shouldn’t be an issue here (as long as you SHARE the image, you don’t screenshot or save the image and then post as your own). Some photographers do explain on their page that they do not want this done, and some confirm that they’re happy if images are shared but no saved and posted. Respect this.

Sharing and reposting are very very different animals. Sharing and retweeting show the original source clearly… reposting should (if you use the correct apps) but doesn’t in the same way. You also move the image from the photographer (or rider’s) feed to your own and post it natively there.

If a rider has shared an image from a photographer with a watermark across it… don’t share it. Again, USUALLY, when an image has been purchased properly, the watermark is removed. This isn’t always the case for social media images but generally it is.

And what if the photograph is really good?

It doesn’t matter how good it is. If it doubt (any doubt!) always ask. Always.

Are photographers just being mean?

Sometimes you’ll find a really grumpy photographer, just like you’ll find really grumpy INSERT ANY OTHER PROFESSION HERE. But this? No, this is their livelihood. And as far as I’m aware, not that many banks take goodwill in lieu of a mortgage payment. Of course, if the image has already been purchased once (important point!), it’s to promote the rider, they sponsor the rider, or various other situations, you’re more than likely to get a ‘yes, no problem’ response. But if you don’t ask… well… you could really annoy a photographer and could be charged too.

Join my free small business group on Facebook to chat and network with likeminded people.

If you’ve been hanging about on Instagram this month (and if you follow me too!), you might have seen me mention the #smallandsuperchargedVIP hashtag, and that’s because of this month’s Small & Supercharged VIP challenge, which is all about flat lays.

I asked the fabulous Rachel Bragg from Sweet-Images Photography to work with me on a resource pack for this month’s Small & Supercharged VIP, because I wanted to create a pack all about flat lays. I LOVE flat lays, both looking at them and trying to create my own, and I know the value that they have (as does Rachel!). Rachel creates flat lays regularly for her own social media and if you follow her on Instagram, you’ll have seen some of these beauties over the last few months. I was delighted that Rachel agreed to be our VIP expert this month, and she created two great instructional videos (and we have a competition running for August too!), and the results have been amazing. We have a lot of content posted in the private VIP group, but we’ve also encouraged members to share on Instagram, using the #smallandsuperchargedVIP, and Rachel will pick the winner at the end of the month.

So – why did we go for flat lays?

I can’t think of one business that a flat lay wouldn’t work for. Not one. Actually, I spoke with Rachel, at length, and we talked through a range of businesses from mechanics to dentists, riding instructors to rural businesses. We couldn’t find one that it wouldn’t work for. They’re also SO useful because we all know that posts with images have much better engagement on social media, but where do you get these images from? Do you buy them? Do you try and bodge your own? DO NOT STEAL THEM (please, don’t!!), but it can get pricey and more. Flat lays are a way to address this. And they’re really good fun too.

Isn’t a flat lay just fun? How does it apply to business?

Yes, flat lays are fun, but they also apply to business. Being able to show your products easily and in a cost effective fashion, or even illustrate your service in a cost effective way, can be HUGELY valuable and generate interest, leads and reach. The images can be used for a range of other applications too, which can see you save on stock image costs at the same time as creating something more personal to you.

How can I learn more about flat lays?

You can obviously have a Google and get inspired, but you can also join the Small & Supercharged VIP community. The challenge aspect runs throughout August, but all members have access to previous resource packs through a password protected area on the website. Membership costs £10pcm (but this will be increasing soon!). Find out lots more here.

And a thank you

I would like to say a massive thank you to Rachel from Sweet-Images Photography. I have thanked Rachel in the group, but I wanted to give her a more public shout out. Rachel has been giving tips to VIP members all month as their flat lay images have appeared in the group, helping to encourage, support and improve the flat lays as the month has gone one. And the results have been amazing. Follow Rachel on her social platforms below, or see the website here.

Rachel’s Facebook

Rachel’s Instagram

Rachel’s Twitter

Hiho Silver Country Shows JournalI make no secret of the fact that I help Hiho Silver with its PR, marketing and other bits and bobs. Actually, more than not hiding the fact, I’m incredibly proud to be part of such an amazing team of talented, creative (and blummin nice!) people that are happy to explore ideas, push boundaries and create amazing things. And I don’t just mean the jewellery that they design in Somerset! The journal – or the Country Shows Journal to give it its full title is one example. I’m proud to have been involved with this from the start, and proud to be part of the team that that creates four fab issues each year. Here’s a link to the journal. And here are eight reasons why you need to take a look – now – if not sooner!

  1. You know I’m a Fairfax & Favor fan? You know that they’re a really big deal in the equestrian and country field? Well, in this issue there’s a great interview with Felix and Marcus, the two gents behind the brand that has taken the rural sector by storm. And that is no exaggeration. See p24
  2. Another brand I love is Evemy & Evemy – and if you’d met the brains behind it, Sophie, you’d love her too. The other ‘behind the brand’ feature this time is all about this company and its exciting British made products. See p14
  3. Solid gold. The brand might be Hiho SILVER, but don’t overlook Hiho if you have a thing for gold. With solid gold pieces and other carefully designed items that blend gold and Hiho silver competitionsilver, you will LOVE the new collection. I do. See p26
  4. The competition. If you like Fairfax & Favor, Evemy & Evemy and Hiho you will LOVE this issue’s competition. You could win over £800 worth of prizes. Yes. OVER £800. See page 12
  5. Gin. I love gin. Hiho’s team love gin. And Doris from Doris & Co loves gin. So she shared a couple of her favourite recipes… <hick> See p28
  6. Behind the rider– Emily King’s grooms, Fran and Becca, share some of their secrets in this feature. As a child I always dreamed of working for… OK, being… Mary King, and reading Fran and Becca’s account of life with the Kings makes me just a teeny bit jealous. But it also shows the dedication, the hard work and their genuine passion for the horses and riders. See p18
  7. Foxtail and charms. I’m SO excited about the Hiho Foxtail Bracelet. Actually, if you follow me on Instagram you will have probably seen a million (slight exaggeration!) pics of it on my wrist and being shaken at people. There’s a nice feature all about it on p27
  8. Behind the camera. I’m getting more and more into photography. Well, when I say that, I’m obsessed with my new iPhone and Instagram and spend far too long messing around with the phone trying to capture the perfect snap. So I was delighted to read Sophie Callahan’s feature giving some top tips. She takes the most beautiful pics and gives some amazing tips too. See p30

And that’s just eight reasons why – have a read and tell me which bit you love the most!

Sophie CallahanIn this week’s ‘a few minutes with…’ I speak to the lovely Sophie Callahan. Sophie is a vlogger, blogger and professional photographer. She’s blogged on my blog and I’ve blogged on hers. She’s an all round good egg and so flipping knowledgable.

Tell us about you and your background. What made you want to start a business?

I’m a specialist equine photographer and also a blogger and vlogger of all things equine and country. I started my career in event photography and soon got bored of photographing football tournaments and dance competitions. So I decided to give equine photography a go and never looked back.

I’ve always wanted to work for myself, so I started exploring self employment as soon as I graduated from university. I have always been creative and have ridden since I was three, so I feel like I’ve found the job I was born to do. It just makes perfect sense for me.

How is your business different? What makes your products special?

There are a lot of equine photographers out there, so it’s tough trying to constantly come up with ways to differentiate myself.

When I share the images from my clients’ shoots online, I don’t just post their photographs, I also tell their story, which often evokes a deeper level of emotion, in both my subjects and the rest of my audience. I want my clients to have ‘an experience’, from beginning to end. 

I also blog and vlog, every week, and try and share lots of fun, original content to my social media pages, which has helped build my online ‘tribe’ and I am super grateful to be able to say that I have a very loyal, supportive following. This has definitely made me more valuable as a photographer, as my audience feel like they know and trust me before they’ve even met me. Photography is quite an intimate thing, so trusting and feeling comfortable with your photographer is so important. I think being so active online has definitely helped me achieve this level of trust in my potential clients.

If you had to sum up your business in a few words, what would they be?

My dream business!

Do you have a motto or ethos?

Work hard and be kind. That’s pretty much all that matters.

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring business owner, what would it be?

I have lots. I love an inspirational quote! Lol. But most of all, I think it’s to be grateful for what you have and work hard for what you want.

Gratitude is so important and it’s easy to focus on everything you haven’t achieved/got yet, rather than what you have. We’re all in a different place, so don’t compare yourself to others and remember to appreciate how far you’ve come and how much you’ve achieved, every step of the way.

One thing that helps you run your business more effectively

My other half? Lol! I’m a creative, so I’m naturally disorganised, impulsive and a little bit ditzy. He’s the opposite, so he makes sure I’m actually earning money and keeps me on the straight and narrow.

Best thing about running a business?

Just one thing? Erm… The freedom and flexibility it gives me, not only to decide my own hours, but to make my own decisions. I couldn’t stand having to go through three levels of management to get a new Facebook campaign signed off, or something. I like to just make decisions and run with them.

Worst thing about running a business?

Being everything, all of the time. Building your website, doing your own tax returns, packaging orders, sending invoices, taking bookings, sending emails, creating content… It can exhausting sometimes.

Top business blog you follow

Well, this one, obviously! And also, Jasmine Star and the Female Entrepreneur Association.

Top business book you’ve read

Get Rich Lucky Bitch, by Denise Duffield Thomas is my favourite!

Top business achievement

Building my dream job from nothing when everyone said it’d never work. This job is literally everything I could ever have hoped for. I love everything about it and feel so lucky to be doing it!

That and interviewing Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester for my vlog. Vlog goals!!

Where can we find you?





I’m really excited to present my first guest blog, from the ridiculously talented Sophie Callahan. Sophie talks about the importance of quality photos – something I believe is essential for any business. But I’ll let Sophie take it from here…

Hello everyone! My name is Sophie Callahan and I am a specialist equine photographer, blogger, Sophie Callahanvlogger and Rhea Freeman fan. I’m addicted to everything social media marketing and have spent the last four years growing my online following to help promote my personal brand. 

And today I’d like to chat to you about the importance of photographs. Ok, I know what you’re thinking…  I’m a photographer, so I’m biased… right?

But I think that actually, my job title is the exact reason I am qualified to tell you exactly why photographs are so important for your brand and business. I’ve seen the difference that a good image can make. And I’ve also seen the damage that a bad image can do!

Think of your online presence as your shop front. If you were to walk past a shop with a scruffy front window and a hand written sign, stuck up with sellotape, would you go in and expect to find quality products?

Of course not!

So why would you expect anybody to buy from you online, if you’re using pixelated, amateur photographs to promote your products and services?

Would you expect brands such as Armani, Range Rover or Swarovski to use images that are out of focus and not of the highest standard? And do you think they’d have the reputation they do, if they did? No. Because they understand the value of an image. Hundreds of thousands are spent on photography for each individual advertising campaign, because imagery is king! Don’t forget the old adage, ‘A picture is worth a thousand words.’ With the rise in image-centric social media, this is truer now that it ever has been.

We live in an online world. And first impressions are key. The likes of Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and even blogs and websites, are all about being as visually appealing as possible. 

If I was to stumble upon the Facebook page of a business I might potentially be interested in buying from, but their images were shoddy and uninspiring, I’d assume that their work might also be shoddy and uninspiring. Afterall, if they can’t put any effort into their first impressions, why would I expect their end product to be any different? Humans are visual creatures and if we don’t see quality images, we won’t expect a quality product or service. 

So, my advice? Invest in professional photography as one of the first and most important things you do for your brand. Good images add credibility.

Whether you are a goods or service based business, you can commission a photographer to capture what you do best. Work with them to collect together a batch of ‘stock’ images that you can use throughout your marketing efforts. Create images that can be used in future advertising campaigns, across your social media channels, on your website, and in upcoming blog posts. 

Consider getting in front of the camera to give your business a ‘face’. People like to see who they’re working with and a personalising your brand and evoke trust in your customers.

Hopefully this blog post has gone some way to encourage you to seek out the right photographer for you and give your business a face lift. I promise, you won’t regret it.

Find out more about Sophie by visiting her website, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Youtube