I’m pretty excited to share this podcast with you – but I’ll warn you now, we do use the word ‘baby’ a lot. Not to each other, that would be weird, but we’re talking all about balancing babies with business. Following the fairly recent announcement of her pregnancy, Sophie Callahan was the perfect lady to talk to about these challenges. As I have twin boys myself, I really do understand the issue of being all things to all people without breaking your sanity or yourself! So, in this podcast, I talk about babies and business with the very lovely Sophie Callahan.

Let’s talk about babies and business with equine photographer Sophie Callahan

Show notes for the Small & Supercharged Podcast – Episode 11 – babies and business – plans for dealing with a new addition, changing business models, following your dreams and lots more. With Sophie Callahan.

  • I chat to Sophie about her pregnancy so far, and how she’s juggled a very challenging pregnancy with work – **Sophie’s had a hell of time – all OK now – but if you’re pregnant or you’re sensitive to this kind of thing, just be aware you might want to skip that link**
  • The changes Sophie’s had to make so far and how it’s made her change her views on things she didn’t expect.
  • We talk about how Sophie’s business is changing and why – and how the season has actually helped her.
  • She talks about how she’s reducing the number of equine shoots she’s doing next year, but how the equine photoshoots are also changing.
  • How Sophie was already planning to move and progress with her equine shoots and the direction of her business, but how the baby has accelerated this and given her a push.
  • The move towards all inclusive shoots, where the idea came from, and what this involves for the customer.
  • We talk through the new shoot packages and how these all align with Sophie’s goal of all inclusive equine photoshoots.
  • We chat about ‘maternity leave’ and how that’s going to look for Sophie.
  • Childcare plans moving forward, to allow Sophie to carry on shooting.
  • The importance of support – from both family and friends – and how useful I’ve found it for my business, children and sanity.
  • Advice from Sophie based on the experience she’s had so far (and, spoiler alert – these are great tips for whether you’re planning a baby or not – just good life tips really!!).
  • Why it’s important to remember why you work for your yourself and the importance of seeing this as an opportunity not a restriction on your life.
  • How businesses grow, evolve and develop, and how life changes like a baby can change the course of your business but how that’s not always a bad thing.
  • Fears connected with starting a family and being self employed.
  • The importance of asking for help and accepting help – how it’s not a weakness at all, can be hugely important, and how it makes everything SO much easier.
  • Losing your identity and why, for me, working was a really important way to help prevent that.
  • The importance of flexibility – and the need to really focus on what’s important and not worry too much about the other stuff.

Big thanks to Sophie for being an amazing guest on this podcast. This is something that, when I was pregnant, I would have found really reassuring to hear. When you have a baby or start a family it IS terrifying, I mean, you’re responsible (or will be!) for a human, and there’s a lot that comes with that. I remember when I was pregnant I had so many people telling me that running my business and being a mum would be impossible.

Well, I’m here to tell you it isn’t.

For some, being a full time mum suits them down to the ground. To be honest, I find the job of mum a lot harder than the other things I do for work- so huge credit to the stay at home mums – I couldn’t do it. I adore my children but I would really struggle. If you want to run your business alongside having a family, it won’t be easy, but it’s possible if you’ll accept help, prioritise, and make the necessary changes. The beauty is, you can make it what you want. You chose to be self employed to have control over your life, your time and everything else too. No one said it would be easy, did they?!

To keep up with Sophie, you can find her here…

Sophie Callahan Photography

Sophie Callahan Facebook

Sophie Callahan Instagram

Sophie Callahan Blog

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.

#30dayruralbusiness challengeWhat a month February was! It was Valentine’s Day, it was my Dad’s birthday, it snowed, it was cold… but more important than all that, it was the month of the #30dayruralbusiness challenge.

What was the #30dayruralbusiness challenge?

This was an Instagram challenge created by photographer, vlogger and blogger (and client and friend!) Sophie Callahan. The idea was a simple one, and that was to encourage people to embrace and use Instagram more. The way to do this – create a list of simple prompts that gave people a focus for the image they put up that day. I say simple in a positive way, because the simplicity of the prompt gave a huge amount of scope, allowing people to post what felt right to them. It was a genius challenge. I spoke to Sophie at the very start of the #30dayruralbusiness challenge to find out more, but I thought revisiting it now would also be useful.

What did I learn from the #30dayruralbusiness challenge?

I actually learnt quite a few things…

  • I knew that the rural business community and Small & Supercharged community were brilliant, but I LOVED the way that they really embraced the #30dayruralbusiness challenge
  • I loved seeing everyone’s posts. Not a huge surprise, but I went and checked the hashtag very regularly to look at the latest posts… they were superb.
  • A hashtag has the power to unite people. The #30dayruralbusiness challenge did this incredibly well. Obviously big hashtags concerning awareness days and news also have this power, and I get that, but with something as niche as this, it was brilliant to see this level of unity.
  • I don’t have a shortage of content ideas. This sounds like I’m blowing my own trumpet and that’s not my intention at all. What I mean is that I usually post twice a day, sometimes three times, but with the challenge too, I was finding a lot of content I had saved in drafts had to be dumped to another day… some is still waiting to emerge as more time sensitive stuff needed posting instead.
  • It was hard work. Creating content, for me, isn’t too hard (I mean, I do it for part of my job!), but to a schedule? When I had to plan specific pics that fitted the prompts? Yes – that was quite hard, but in the best possible way… it made me think, try, batch photographing things, and look for opportunities to get some good pics in stock.
  • How to take better pics. I’m not an expert, and I would not for a second pretend I was, but I played around with my now beloved portrait mode, moved things around, cropped them differently, took a LOT of pics of the same thing, got a bit obsessed about light and much more. Don’t get me wrong, there is MASSIVE room for improvement, and I mean massive, but I felt the concentrated effort of having to photograph specific things made me think and pushed me more than usual.

To me, it also emphasised the power of, not just Instagram, but of community. Some people in my free small business group, Small & Supercharged, enjoyed huge growth (percentage wise – I’m all about percentages as I think it’s the only fair way to level the playing field) and it’s given their account a huge boost. A big thank you and a big well done to Sophie for putting the time and effort in to come up with this idea. I learnt a lot – what did you learn?

If you loved the #30dayruralbusiness challenge and are feeling a bit sad it’s finished, WORRY NOT, Sophie is planning to create monthly post prompts for Instagram over on her blog. Enjoy!

Today’s ‘a few minutes with…’ is a bit different to normal… I mean it’s not even called ‘a few minutes with…’! This week, we spend a few minutes with Sophie Callahan, who tells us all about the #30DayRuralBusiness challenge she created for Instagram. It’s a fab initiative and there’s still plenty of time to get involved if you’d like to. So, over to Sophie…
Rhea has asked me to chat to you about the new Instagram challenge, #30DayRuralBusiness, that I am running, which is nicely timed, because it launched just yesterday and the response so far has been incredible.

Sophie CallahanWhy did you create the #30DayRuralBusiness Challenge?

I first came up with the idea of running a thirty day challenge for rural businesses on Instagram, because I could see so many small equine and country entrepreneurs really struggling with the platform.
For me, it’s fairly easy. I’m a photographer, so I have endless content to put out and I’m a blogger, so I always have new articles or videos to promote. But what if you’re a riding instructor, or a therapist, or make collars for dogs? I felt that a lot of people didn’t really know what to post, when to post it or how to engage their audience.
I asked, over on Rhea’s Small & Supercharged group, if it would be something people would be interested in and I had such a huge response to it. It was clear that people were craving direction and assistance when it came to using Instagram for their businesses.
I absolutely love Instagram. I’d go as far as to say that I’m ever so slightly addicted to it and my husband regularly has to remind me to put my phone down and stop scrolling.

Why do you particularly like Instagram?

I love how much it has grown in popularity over the last couple of years and it is definitely now the place to be, if you’re building a brand of any sort. What began as a platform for real-time image sharing has become a hub of creativity, expression and community. Instagram is, for sure, the ‘nicest’ platform to be on, with only very rare reports of hate and negativity, unlike Twitter, which is a magnet for trolls and Facebook, which seems to be everyone’s place of choice for airing their dirty laundry.
Instagram seems to be the place for positivity and cheerleading, which is just so refreshing.

What’s the goal of the #30DayRuralBusiness Challenge?

So, my aim, with the challenge, was to come up with 30 days of easy posts, for people who wanted to get to grips with Instagram, engage their audience and inject a little personality into their online profile.
I tried to keep the #30DayRuralBusiness challenge fairly simple, but in a way that would encourage people to think outside of the box and stop simply posting salesy posts, about the newest colour or size of their product, for example.
My business has been built, not just on beautiful imagery (which luckily for me, comes with the territory) but on stories. My story and the stories of my clients. Each partnership I photograph, I endeavour to tell their story and give their images a personality that my audience can relate to and engage with.

#30DayRuralBusiness Challenge

Equally, the reason my blog has become such an integral part of my business, is because people enjoy reading my own story. Whether it’s about the country clothing brands I’m wearing, the latest candle I’m burning or my favourite place to have brunch. Ultimately, stories are what will capture your audience.
And that is the aim, with the #30DayRuralBusiness Instagram Challenge.
So far, we’ve only just finished Day 1 and are just getting into Day 2, and the results have been phenomenal. Not just in the amount of people who have joined us (and are still just joining in today) but the engagement on people’s initial introductory post has been fabulous to witness.

And the results so far?

There are accounts joining us that ordinarily struggle to get past 20 likes per image, and now they’ve received this influx of comments and encouragement on their first challenge post. There are some brand new accounts, where the Day 1 post was their first ever post on Instagram, who are off to a flying start.
The beauty of the hashtag is that it is connecting these likeminded, enthusiastic rural business owners from all over the world and providing support, community and friendship, simply through social media. Just as I’d hoped it would.
I’m so excited for the rest of the 30 days, with my super little #30DayRuralBusiness gang. I’ll be doing a roundup post of everything I learn, throughout the process, on my blog in March. I just know they’re all going to blow me away and I hope that they all see fabulous results from it.

Sophie Callahan Equestrian CalendarToday I’m giving away a brilliant prize, kindly donated by equestrian photographer, vlogger and blogger, Sophie Callahan. And the prize up for grabs is her 2018 Equestrian Calendar. I’m very, very proud to call Sophie a client and friend of mine and continue to be blown away by what she creates. She’s definitely one to watch! Here’s why I am giving away a copy of her 2018 Equestrian Calendar.

Why am I giving away a copy of Sophie Callahan’s Equestrian Calendar?

As I’ve mentioned above, Sophie is a client and friend of mine and is an incredibly talented photographer too. Last year, she launched her very first calendar and it was a big success, and this year she’s created an even better version. Well, I say even better, the 2017 one was lovely too, but this one combines stunning pictures WITH key equestrian dates. Who wouldn’t want that?!

Why do I like Sophie’s Equestrian Calendar??

Just looking at it from a product point of view, it’s brilliant. Each month, there’s a picture of a stunning horse (and who doesn’t want to look at a lovely horse each month?!), but more than that, the equestrian dates are so useful, whether you’re a business or a show attendee. A number of my clients exhibit at shows throughout the year, and although I know all too well roughly when the shows fall, as there’s a pattern, rough doesn’t work with the level of detail I need! Saying ‘well, Badminton is the first weekend in May’ is fine if you’re then going to confirm that before you plan your content marketing, FB ads, sponsorships and social media content around it… not if you want the detail. And also the format of the calendar is great for me. I like boxes you can actually write stuff in. I do have times when my life is a teeny bit more hectic than I’d like, and making sure I know when the farrier is coming (and don’t, you know, completely forget because I have six million other things on)… so somewhere to write is a win.

Would you like to win Sophie Callahan’s Equestrian Calendar?

I have one copy to give away, but all you need to do is pop on over to my Rhea Freeman PR Facebook page, watch the video that will be pinned to the top today and enter. That’s it! Of course, I’d love it if you’d tell your friends by sharing the post… although that is not an entry mechanism… as that would break Facebook Ts and Cs… and I wouldn’t want to do that! The competition runs for one day only (the day this post is published!), so be quick! And if you’d like to buy one of these calendars, you can do this online on Sophie’s website.

I hope you enjoy my advent calendar competition – best of luck!

Hiho Silver Country Shows JournalWhy eleven reasons? I’m not entirely sure… but here goes. To be honest, there are more than eleven reasons to love the latest issue of the Hiho Silver Country Shows Journal, but these are my top eleven. The best thing is if you read it yourself. I would love to know your favourite bit…

What is the Hiho Silver Country Shows Journal?

Hiho Silver produces the Country Shows Journal. This online publication is produced at specific times of the year, for Hiho customers and fans to enjoy for free. There’s always a competition, some brilliant brand and product features, there’s usually some gin… and there’s always beautiful jewellery. The latest issue of the Hiho Silver Country Shows Journal is no different, but is also bursting with fashion, style, an inside out horse (it’s OK, no animals were hurt!) and a lot more. So… my eleven reasons to love it…

  • Harriet Edwards’ fashion feature. In her role as Hiho brand ambassador, Harriet styled the lovely Imogen Murray for the trot up at Burghley. Dressed in Musto, Dubarry, Joules, Mackenzie & George and Hiho, Imogen looked absolutely stunning… Harriet did an exceptional job. In this issue of the journal, Harriet also shows us some other potential trot up looks that made her shortlist. There wasn’t a look I didn’t like. Honestly.
  • The competition. Who doesn’t love a great competition? And this issue’s is, as usual, a complete corker. In this issue, Hiho has teamed up with Hyde & Hare and Teddy Edward to offer one lucky winner one heck of a prize haul. A new Foxley Bag from young British brand Hyde & Hare, who specialises in cowhide products, a £150 gift voucher to spend at Teddy Edward, and a Cherry Roller Bundle from Hiho. STUNNING.
  • The Cherry Roller options. I ADORE my Hiho Silver Cherry Roller and have upgraded and changed it as new beads have become available… and in this issue Hiho created an image to show all the options – from CZ roller beads in a range of colours to the World Horse Welfare Charity Bead, the Fairfax & Favor Bead, all the way through to the new solid gold and diamond 4 Star Bead, which launched at Burghley. Oh my. It’s a stunner.
  • Doris’s Burghley Picks. I adore the shopping villages at horse trials and this issue, Doris picked some lovely products that you could find around the tradestand village… but can also enjoy online and buy from the comfort of your chair.
  • Who doesn’t love a cocktail? And what about a gin one? Exactly. In this issue, the lovely people at Silver Fox Gin share a couple of delicious cocktails to enjoy, and there’s a brilliant story behind the brand too, and how it came to Hiho Silver Country Shows Journalbe.
  • Teddy Edward. Have you heard about this lovely British brand? I have heard so much about this brand, and it’s great to read a bit more about in the in the Country Shows Journal too.
  • Horse Inside Out. Before I started PR and marketing, I actually used to work at an event yard and then later as an instructor. As I went up through the BHS levels, I spent a LOT of time learning where the muscles and bones were… and attempting to compare a picture to a horse in motion was a bit tricky… but not with Horse Inside Out. With the ‘important bits’ painted on the outside of the horse, it’s a great way to understand how everything works together… and Gillian explains how it all works in the latest issue.
  • A Badminton recap. I love Badminton Horse Trials and I was so, so chuffed with how Hiho’s first sponsored best dressed at that trot up went. Sophie Callahan, one of Hiho’s brand ambassadors, commentated during the full trot up on Radio Badminton… and then wrote an article for the Badminton website, and here she relives it for us. It’s fab.
  • Sweet story. Rachel Bragg from Sweet Images Photography is a long term Hiho fan, so Hiho caught up with her and had a chat about her job, her favourite Hiho pieces and more. It’s a really great read.
  • Hyde & Hare is a new brand that produces a range of high quality cowhide bags that are real one offs. They are made from genuine cowhide that is completely natural and unique, and hasn’t been printed like many available. I love the feature about Piers Dickinson, the man behind the brand, and enjoyed finding out what Leonardo DiCaprio had to do with it… and there is something!
  • An Event Rider Masters update. It’s been such an amazing series for far and I can’t wait to see the finale at Blenheim…

So, there you go – eleven reasons to love the Hiho Silver Country Shows Journal… but I am sure you’ll find loads more. Have a read of it here, and don’t forget to enter the competition. It’s a really good one.

Harriet Edwards and Sophie CallahanIf you follow me on social media (and, if you don’t, I’m on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook here), you may have noticed that last weekend, when The Game Fair was on, I promoted two Instagram takeovers, and I wanted to explain a bit about these and how they work. Firstly, because Harriet Edwards (aka A Girl About Country) did an amazing job for Mackenzie & George, and secondly because Sophie Callahan (of Sophie Callahan Photography) did an amazing job for Hiho Silver. Despite really dodgy Wifi…

What’s an Instagram takeover?

An Instagram takeover is, usually, where a brand ambassador takes over a company’s Instagram feed for the day. More recently, the Instagram Story is where most of the takeover content happens, with perhaps a scattering of posts appearing the main Instagram feed.

Why are Instagram takeovers good?

A few reasons… and reasons that I will go into in a whole heap more detail on in the future. However, Instagram takeovers can be…

  • A great way to utilise your brand ambassadors
  • A nice way to promote brand ambassadors, so they get exposure to the company’s following, to help grow their own
  • A superb way to generate new, exclusive content taken by a different person in a different way
  • A fun way to explore events when most of the company’s team is stand bound or not at the event at all!
  • …and more…

So what did Hiho and Mackenzie & George do?

Mackenzie & George’s Instagram takeover involved the lovely Harriet Edwards, Now, Harriet is a brand ambassador for M&G (as well as Hiho and others) and has a really good, engaged following on Instagram. Harriet set off with a plan for the kind of content she wanted to capture on her Instagram takeover and, despite having Wifi nightmares, absolutely nailed it. She interviewed Melanie, joint owner and founder of Mackenzie & George about The Game Fair and her favourite pieces, and also spoke to members of the team too. In addition, we got to see the machine that personalises the company’s lovely leather products in action… and I love that kind of thing! The company extended this further by giving Harriet cards with discounts on and when people found her around the event and asked her, she gave them a card. She also gave Sophie Callahan who was taking over Hiho’s Instagram, a shout out… and that made me smile a lot.

Sophie did a great job for Hiho, taking pics from around the showground, despite the dodgy Wifi signal! She captured the stand, gundogs in action and also met up with Harriet on the Hiho stand (and posted a lovely picture to Instagram that I have borrowed for this blog!). Sophie also gave Harriet a shout out, which was really lovely.

Why did it work?

Both ladies really understand the brands that they’re representing and, more to the point, understand how to represent themselves too. They’re professional but fun and also understand the brand values of the companies that they’re working with… so much so that the companies involved are happy to give them free rein on the content. Because they trust them, because they have put the time in to building the relationship. And when you see a takeover like this, it makes good ambassadors worth their weight in gold. On to the next one!

Sophie CallahanProduct photography is incredibly important for any businesses. In fact, for some, the difference between good and bad product photography can be the difference between success and failure. It sounds dramatic but it’s true. In Michelle Mone’s book ‘My Fight To The Top’, she explains how her photoshoots with famous names (notably Penny Lancaster, and then Rod Stewart’s ex wife Rachel Hunter), propelled her business forward. Here, I have a chat to Sophie Callahan about product photography and what things you need to look out for when you decide to work with a photographer and take the leap.

How did you get into product photography? Do you have any specialisms/particular passions?

I originally began by just photographing horses and their owners, and photographing businesses and products was kind of a natural progression, really. Brands begun contacting me asking if I’d photograph their products or services and that side of the business grew from there. I specialise in working with equestrian and country brands.

Can you share a campaign you’ve worked on and tell us a bit about it?

Product photographyI recently worked with a company called Forelock Books, who publish children’s books about horses and ponies. Michelle, from Forelock Books, wanted to increase her visibility and sales online. She asked me to create images that would strengthen her brand and capture the essence of her product. It was such a fun shoot, involving five children and four ponies, and I believe Michelle is thrilled with the results.

How do you go about organising the shoot?

Every shoot is entirely different. Some clients want a lot of creative input and want to oversee the entire shoot from start to finish, in which case, I will have as much or as little involvement with organising the shoot as they need me to have. Whereas some clients are happy to send me the products and trust me to coordinate everything needed to create beautiful photographs. I am happy to source models, both human and equine, locations and props, and if the client isn’t planning to attend the shoot, I try to keep them as ‘in the loop’ as possible, every step of the way. 

What information can a company give you to help you get the best photography for them?

When I’m shooting for a brand or business, I like to do as much homework about them as possible. I want to know who their target audience is, what colours they use in the branding, what their social media presence is like, what marketing campaigns they have run in the past and plan to run in the future, etc. It all helps me create a picture in my mind of what images will align with their brand. 

Some clients are looking for something very specific, for a particular campaign or website revamp, for example, whereas some are looking to create a bank of stock images, to use on social media over time. Some want both. So I also need to know what they are hoping to use the images for.

Do you offer different levels of shoot? Can you tell us a bit about them?

Yes. I know that photography is a big and scary investment for a lot of small businesses and one-man-bands. So, with this in mind, I offer three different packages. The first package is just the shoot itself. This means that my client doesn’t have to part with any extra money until they have seen and are happy with their images. And if they decide to just buy a few, they can do, or they have the option to purchase all. 

The second option is for those with a specific purpose in mind. As I mentioned, this may be an upcoming advertising campaign, a website revamp or the launch of a particular product. They may only require a handful of images and that is what my second option offers. There is, of course, always the option to purchase extras at a later date. 

And my final option includes the shoot and all image files. This is my most popular option and typically my clients will end up with upwards of 100 images.

All of the above options are guaranteed an interview on my blog and exposure to my 35k social media following.

What advice would you give people thinking of getting their first professional shoot organised?

Firstly I would encourage them that getting professional photographs taken of their product or service is 100% the right thing to do. In an era where social media is so prevalent, imagery is king! And secondly, I would advise them to give their photographer as much information about their brand and their vision as possible. Choose the right photographer, one who you think really ‘gets’ what your business stands for, and be super clear on what you want to achieve, with these images. 

What questions should a business owner ask a photographer to make sure they’re a good fit for them?

Obviously it’s important to see previous work, to ensure you like the style of the images, as every photographer’s style is unique to them. But I think finding the right photographer for you is more about getting a good feeling about someone, than it is about asking specific questions. I’d advise chatting either face to face, via Skype, or on the phone. When you’ve built a business, that business becomes your baby and it’s so important that the person who is responsible for creating the images that will bring your ideas to life and present them to the world, understands exactly what the brand is all about and is as passionate about the shoot as you are.

Find out more about Sophie’s business shoots on her website, here. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Sophie Callahan Equine photographerAs anyone who regularly reads this blog or follows me on social media will know, I’m a big Sophie Callahan fan… for so many reasons, but this blog just focuses on one of the many things I love about Sophie’s business, Sophie Callahan Photography, and what she does.. you might call it packaging or customer experience. I believe packaging is part of the customer experience. Here’s a bit about Sophie’s branding, her packaging and a recap about her commercial and portrait equine photography business.

Tell us a bit about your brand, Sophie Callahan Photography, and what you do

I am an equine photographer and I photograph the relationship between horses and their humans all over the UK and then package up their memories in tangible form. Whether that be in the shape of a canvas, a USB, or simple prints.

Let’s start with your branding – how did you decide on your logo, the colours and your branding overall?

My logo was actually knocked up within seconds, as a temporary fix, when I very first started and wanted to get some photos online as quickly as possible. It was never meant to be permanent, but it’s actually one of the things people love about my brand. I’ve had so many comments about how recognisable it is and I’ve even had people say they can’t wait to see their images with ‘the blue and pink Sophie Callahan Photography’ on them. So light blue and light pink feature heavily in my branding, as does white as I want to make everything quite feminine and ‘dreamy’. 

How did you decide on your packaging? What elements did you consider?

sophie callahan packagingWhen I was deciding on my packaging, I wanted to go for a look that brought the femininity of my brand and the earthy, natural side of horses together. My prints come in brown, natural kraft boxes and my USB sticks come in bespoke wooden boxes, with the client’s favourite image printed onto the wooden front. I then use branded stickers to add my logo and my USB sticks and CDs also have my logo printed onto them. I’m a big fan of hand-written notes, so I include a thank you card in every package, with a little hand-written message on.

What kind of response have you received to your packaging?

Since improving my packaging, I have seen a huge increase in the number of people who post pictures of their parcels onto social media. This is great advertising for me and often results in enquiries from new potential customers. I get a lot of messages and emails thanking me and commenting on how beautiful the parcel was.

Do you think packaging adds to a product and the customer experience? Was this something you factored into your product quite early on or something that has evolved over time?

Absolutely! I think when you are offering a high-end product or service, the packaging needs to reflect this. My packaging has definitely evolved over time and I still tweak it or try new things every now and then. As somebody who loves packaging, it’s fun to try out new ideas and take the time to make your work look pretty. When I first started, I wasn’t charging the prices I am charging now, so spending money on beautiful packaging just wouldn’t have been an option. But as my prices have increased, the value I offer my clients must increase too and my products must reflect the investment they are making.

Are there any other brands who have packaging that inspires you? Or that you think is done really well?

Sophie Callahan PackagingI am big candle fanatic, so I always love receiving White Company and Jo Malone parcels, for birthdays and Christmas, and they always beautifully presented. I also really love make-up and the Charlotte Tilbury burgundy and rose gold packaging is the stuff of my dreams! And lastly, I’m a brand ambassador for Hiho Silver, so I receive a lot of their beautiful jewellery through the post and I have their boxes stacked up on my vanity unit, because I just can’t throw them away. My other half is constantly complaining about the amount of empty bags and boxes I hoard, but how are you supposed to throw away something so pretty?

Where can we find you online?