Death of the Equine Photographer? Part I

Death of the Equine Photographer? Part I

If you’ve ever been to a horse show at almost any level, there’s a good chance that you’ve experienced an equine photographer.  They come with all different levels of equipment, professionalism and skill.  The good ones are a rare mix of photography skills, equestrian sport knowledge and an artistic eye.  The business of equine photography seems to be in a strange and dangerous place right now.  Photographers complain about rising costs, stolen photos, and fewer orders while show goers complain about expensive photos, bad or missed photos.

western-leadline

While I don’t consider myself an upper level equine photographer by any means, I have shot a number of horse shows professionally.  I see both sides of the professional and athlete argument with photos taken at horse shows, and I hope to engage in some discussion through a series of two blog posts on the subject.  Today I want to tell you a little bit about my experience shooting professionally.

jumper-horse

I’ll be the first to admit that I came into equine photography with nothing more than a low level DSLR and a lot of will to learn.  For me, photography was a part time job to do for fun during college.  If I ever had to try and support myself off of the money I made, I would have quit immediately.

After a lot of research and work with the Equine Photographer’s Network, I upgraded some equipment and got ready to promote myself at shows.  An estimate of costs going into my first show (keep in mind this gear is a lot cheaper than what I carry now, and most definitely less expensive than what the average equine photog has):

  • Canon Digital Rebel XT w/kit lens – $800 (at the time, cheaper now)
  • Second Canon Digital Rebel XT body – $400
  • Sigma 70-200 f2.8 lens – $900
  • Professional SmugMug Account to sell proofs – $300/year
  • Business cards & promo materials – $50
  • Total: $2,450

horse-headshot

And that total was before I made a single penny.  Since I was new to the business and self-admittedly doing this as a hobby/part time job, I stuck to local schooling and unrated shows which had no official photographer.  To book these shows, I created a professional website outlining my work and portfolio (if I couldn’t make this myself, that would be another cost) and contacted show managers asking if they would be interested in an official photographer.  If they chose me, I got to set up a booth at the horse show and stand in the ring with the judge to take photos.  I was never paid for coming to the horse show.

hunter-jumper3

On a good weekend, I made $200-$300 in a one day show.  I shot maybe 1-2 horse shows a month… you can do the math on this and quickly guess it wasn’t a stellar business model.  But I told myself I enjoyed the work and it was fun getting paid to do something I enjoyed.

And it was fun, but there were problems.

foal

This was about eight years ago, but even then many parents had their own camera just as nice as mine or nicer.  Though my timing and settings were better in showcasing the horse and rider, people often just cared that they had some photo that existed of their kid’s show.  Quality wasn’t important, and they certainly weren’t often willing to pay for it.

For some, quality was important… but they didn’t feel the need to pay for photos then either.  At one show, I actually had a horse owner step into the ring with me and ask me to move aside so they could take photos of their yearlings during a halter class.  I was appalled, and later spoke to the show manager who backed me up and asked this woman to move.  Sure it was an isolated incident, but it tells you something about how much people respect the official photographer.

hunter-jumper2

Of course every show photographer has to deal with poaching.  You know, the person who’s sure they can do better than the OP (official photographer) who will run around and pass out their business card to anyone who’s horse they take a picture from.  Their prices are always lower than the professional photographer, because they don’t usually have near the time and money invested and can come and go as they please.

One show circuit I shot even took photos all day long of their competitors and put them on the website.  Were they cheap snaps taken from a judge’s stand?  Yes.  Might they have swayed someone from buying one of my photos?  Potentially.

reining

Plus there is no proof in the world that will stop someone who wants to put stolen photo proofs on Facebook.  “Stolen from Uptonia Photography” deters no one, and neither do threats to not be shot in the future.  Many people don’t care, and they just take whatever is posted of them online as their property.

The clientele was hard to deal with too.  I had mothers ream me out multiple times.  Here are a few of my favorite examples:

hunter-jumper

  • I was shooting an over fences class in the corner of the ring outside the rail.  A mother stormed up to me and told me to move because my camera was spooking her son’s horse.  Then she said, “He’s a bad boy and I’m not going to buy him any photos anyway.  Don’t waste your time.”
  • Someone went on a lengthy tirade about how my prices were unfair because I wouldn’t offer a CD of photos (back then I just sold individual digital downloads and then various print sizes).  She wanted photos of her daughter riding for digital scrap booking, but would never pay my individual digital download costs.
  • After shooting a two ring, very busy show I came home to an angry email as soon as the proofs went up.  I had taken photos of the leadline class, moved over to the jumping for a little bit, and then caught the beginner W/T/C flat divisions.  Since I had missed the walk/trot division, I “didn’t care about the future riders” and only thought “big jumping classes” were important.  Obviously I had my priorities wrong as a photographer.

vaulting

With all this, it shouldn’t be a huge surprise to y’all why I decided not to pursue shooting professional when we moved to Texas four years ago.  I enjoy it much more now, and am a lot less frustrated.  I can see why so many photographers are refusing to shoot  horse shows or display proofs online.

Not sure of any of this “behind the lens” information is shocking to you, but it definitely is one side of the story.  Next time I’ll discuss some of my problems with equine photographers as a competitor.

Have any of y’all tried to shoot professionally or witnessed people being very unfair to pro equine photographers?

43 thoughts on “Death of the Equine Photographer? Part I

  1. I actually got started in photography by assisting a really well known national level show photographer for extra spending money while I was grooming – she offered me the opportunity after helping her shoot my barn’s sale horses.
    After two years assisting, I slowly started doing my own work but I quickly found that it just wasn’t worth the investment for me. I still do it occasionally- mostly for small charity or fundraising shows. I can do better work and generate more appropriate income doing portrait work. I have worked at several shows that allow private photographers that are working with pre-arranged clients as long you don’t solicit on the show grounds and that has worked really well. For those shows, I can offer a horse show album for the barn which is VERY popular and represents very little loss to the official photographer. In most cases, those competitors have still bought photos from the OP. For me, the long hours, stolen photos, very high amount of editing just weren’t worth it.

    1. I’ve done the barn album thing, and I think it’s pretty common. I’m not sure what an OP would think of that, but I agree – if you aren’t soliciting photos it’s never as bad. The people who solicit business under the OP’s nose are what drives me crazy.

      Good point about the editing. I would get lots of emails griping about when proofs would be online, and I spent probably a solid 6-8 hours editing them and culling before I put them on the website. That didn’t include major background edits that I did for when photos were ordered.

      1. At those shows, it was part of the OP’s contract with the management that private photographers are allowed. 🙂 I *always* check and introduce myself to the OP.

  2. There was a time when I considered trying to make a go at photographing horse shows. I didn’t have enough time at that particular moment to give it 100% so I let it go and after reading this post from you it seems like it was a good idea in the end. Now, I go to shows with friends and snap photos and that’s enough for me. I want photography to be a fun hobby, not another source of stress (I have plenty of those thanks to my real job!).

  3. I’ve always loved photography as a hobby myself (not that I do much of it anymore…) but would never consider professionally getting into equine photography for many of the reasons you posted. I love going to a show with my camera and shooting for my friends, who are typically very grateful for whatever photos I’ve taken but that’s about it. Also, I see so many people at horse shows doing the same thing that I am that I can’t imagine show photogs are making much business. Lately nice cameras and photography seem very “in” and almost anyone with a halfway decent camera can take a halfway decent photo. That seems to be all people want (for the most part).

    1. Yeah, the average consumer just wants a photo of their horse with okay exposure and okay timing doing whatever it is supposed to do. A lot of the finer points that a good pro can give seem to be lost to many people it seems.

  4. Wow! Since I don’t show (yet) I don’t have any experience with official photographers. Of course, several years ago I performed at a Parelli event and later lost my dad’s shots of said performance and was upset later that the event had not taking any photographs or video.

    I don’t know that I could afford a pro’s shots, but that doesn’t mean I don’t understand the value of their work and I would pay for it if I could!

    Interesting to hear that perspective. Looking forward to Part 2!

  5. Wow, I never suspected that official photographers could catch so much flak or have so much underhanded competition!

    I’ve never tried my hand at photography and have zero desire to. My parents didn’t have nice cameras, so we depended entirely on show photographers to capture my successes (or failures). The highlight of my year was the annual Pony Club rally in Lexington because it was the only time I could get professional photos of myself riding. My parents would set a budget for purchasing these photos and I’d always come away with two or three (usually two XC, one stadium). I absolutely treasure them. I think a professional photographer is valuable- there’s no way I’d ever have these great shots if I depended on friends or family to get them!

  6. I didn’t know people were like that the the official photographers! i enjoyed reading and look forward for part 2.

  7. I’ve shot professionally only on request. I live in a small area and folks don’t want to pay the couple pro photographers to do horse shoots because the photographers don’t always understand the horses and their people well enough to understand what they are looking for. I only have lower level equipment and thus charge accordingly. I’ve never really been in it for the money anyway, but its nice to be compensated for the time it takes to shoot and edit the photos. The folks I shoot for are mostly friends or friends of friends. They know I have an eye for horses and understand what those individuals are seeking in their photos (a bond between a girl and her horse, the soft contact/feel achieved through skilled training). I rely a LOT on the environment for the quality of my shots though because I haven’t invested beaucoup money into it. I always shoot during “golden light” hours and really run all over the place when I’m shooting so I can make the most of what is natural.

    Ultimately, its a learning experience for me. I have an eye for some things, but not all the things like the real pros do. At equine events with pro photographers, I tend to get the hell out of their way so they can do their job. I may throw out a passing inquiry or two about why they’re doing X or Y, but overall, I leave them to it. They’re the pro, they’ve got their reasons for doing what they do. It really sucks when the public is so rude to them, and I’ve stuck up for a photographer or two without their knowledge just because I have respect for what they do. At endurance rides especially, it is hard to get awesome shots because you’re usually only one person and you need to try to capture *all* of the participants. On top of that, you need to do it early on before someone has had a chance to be pulled from the ride for some reason. I understand that the most *perfect* shots aren’t always possible when you’re trying to nab every person out there.

    1. I think a lot of pros don’t mind questions being asked, especially when it’s phrased as a “I do this for fun and I respect your craft” kind of way. Good for you for sticking up for the pro!

  8. I realize I’m well in the minority, but stolen photos piss me off. I’ve never, ever been a pro photographer nor do I have the equipment, but I have a healthy respect for the amount of work that goes in to getting quality pictures of horses and I just can’t abide people ripping them off. That giant watermark the photographer put in just screams to me how tacky the thief is.

    I don’t care if you’re poor–I am too. Either buy the photo or take your own, but stealing is not the answer.

    1. I agree. There are a few proofs I have posted on this site, but they are so old and I literally could not buy them now if I wanted to. All the show photos here are from 2010 on are either purchased or taken by friends or family.

  9. Oh, I so feel you on this one.
    Even though I have never shot a show, after having issues with people not respecting even my freelance portrait work gets me riled up. It drives me nuts to see people steal copyrighted photos, and knowing that the person who stole that image took no consideration of that photographer’s hard work, standing in the sun all day *hoping* people would buy their images. I definitely do my best to buy at least one image from each show, and support/give credit to them always. It would be so sad to see show photographers disappear, their skills in timing and exposure are hard to replicate by any amateur, fancy camera notwithstanding!

    1. I’m with you. I will pretty much try to make at least one purchase per show if there is a decent photo of us. I’m obsessed with photos and can never have too many, and luckily the pro in my area has a very reasonable “digital file” price that works great for the blog and Facebook.

  10. I hate horse shows.

    HATE.

    I do not seek them out for all of the reasons you posted. I love the time I spend behind my camera, but I have exactly zero interest in shooting horse shows professionally. Will be sharing this on FB.

  11. I will admit – I’ve been one of those people who lifted photos from websites. However I’ve also purchased a fair number of pictures. I like prints – physical objects too, like a CD – rather than digital copies. The last show photographer that took pics of me and Fiction charged $26 a digital print and none of the pictures were any good. My Trainer took better pictures on her lower budget camera. I just couldn’t justify the cost.

    To me photography is a hobby unless you branch out into other areas. I have a friend who does weddings, senior photos, babies, and horse shows. If your entire life revolves around it, you can probably make a living. If you’re just doing horse shows, it’s going to be hard and you wont make it any better by charging outrageous prices. $26/digital photo was just too much.

    1. Even if you buy photos, I just don’t think there is ANY situation where it’s okay to rip proofs down off a pro’s website to share. They cost money for a reason, and even if you say purchased a 4×6 or 8×10 that doesn’t come close to covering the pro’s cost and time involved with getting all your photos.

      $26 for a digital photo can be seen as very reasonable or very not. Is this a high quality digital file… one that you could use to make small prints? If so, that is VERY reasonable. If it’s just a web sized or facebook sized image it’s on the high side in my opinion.

  12. My sister is a professional photographer and does quite a bit of equine photography. She has put a lot of time and money into equipment and training to do what she does. Every photo shoot means hours of taking pictures and many many more hours sorting through them and editing them before posting proofs. There isn’t a lot of return even though she’s quite good at what she does. But she is horse crazy so I think the shows and barn shoots are still fun. I think her biggest complaint is that there is too much competition in her area. Too bad she lives at the wrong end of the continent to take pictures at my shows! But that might be a story for part two of your post.

  13. Very interesting post and I look forward to future installments. I have zero photography talent, so my perspective has only been as a competitor/customer. There are certainly less and less photographers at shows these days, though happily videographers are a staple at west coast horse trials. I’ll be interested to see if you discuss pricing schemes and reasoning behind them. At my HT in February we had an OP who charged $25 for you to even see your proofs online. I didn’t like his body of work, so I opted not to pay, though I of course wonder if he got the perfect shot of Hemie and I and I’ll never know…

    1. A lot of pros are going this way, or refusing to post proofs online. I think if I ever went back to shooting horse shows I would pretty much charge a small fee to see proofs or to take someone’s picture in the first place.

  14. It’s really too bad that people have to be like that. I love having photos of my horses so I will pay for the photos, though oftentimes it’s only one picture that I can afford. I actually just signed up for photos at my show in a couple weeks (this photographer charges a $25 shooting fee, then for individual files on top of that). And I absolutely HATE when people steal proofs and post them on their instagram/facebook/etc. with the proof watermark all over it.

    1. I see a LOT of this on Instagram lately. With Facebook, at least you have a contact option and you can pretty much quickly identify who the person is and refuse to shoot them in the future. Instagram is a lot more anonymous which makes it harder for photographers to enforce copyright violations.

  15. I do have a situation where its okay to take the proofs. When you order and pay the photographer and they never give you jack shit and disappear. Happened to me.. lol

  16. I’ve never shot professionally, but I worked with one of the biggest names in stock horse photography, shooting one of the biggest horse shows in the world. And let me tell you, after watching their schedule, I quickly realized there was no way in h*ll it would be worth it. Kinda changed my mind about pro photography in the equine world, to be honest.

  17. One woman went on a tirade on Facebook about a local show, how there was a “pervert” there taking pictures of all the young girls – UMM it was the site photographer. JEESH. My past boarder was a pro so I know all about this. I always pay for pics, I love quality shots 🙂

  18. I am very blesses to have friends take pics of us riding on occasion… I think I owe them lots of beer for their services!! 🙂

    I find that the prof photographers get a few shots of each rider- which I get they aren’t there to take pics of just me, but for the prices I would like some killer pictures to chose from.

    You are so right though, the good ones are equestrian savvy!

  19. This makes me sad! I’m usually alone when I show my horse and it always bums me out when there’s not a photographer on site to take photos. An official photographer is the only way I can get pictures of me and my horse in the classes. There haven’t been photographers at most of the recent shows, and I guess perhaps this is why.

    I definitely prefer to purchase a CD of images rather than digital downloads, but as long as it’s not an actual paper photo, I’m quite happy. At one show I went to, the photographer offered a CD of any 12 photos I wanted for $70 and I thought that was amazing. I usually only purchase one or two otherwise, but I love LOVE photos and enjoy having them to remember the show.

    I have heard a lot of people complain about the cost of photos, and I wonder if the prices were lowered a bit if the photographer would sell more of them. I have a DSLR and some quality equipment myself, so I understand the cost involved, but with everything being digital, there’s no paper or ink costs, and I think a lot of people wonder why digital photos cost so much.

    I know the lady selling CDs for $70 sold a LOT of them that day. They were beautiful photos, too. My absolute favorite picture of me and my mare came from that show. For me, the pictures are priceless, so if I saw a photo I loved, I’d buy it no matter what it cost.

    1. I’m sure lower prices would encourage some more people to buy, but a lot of people are satisfied with stealing free proofs or getting free photos from a friend. I’m not saying you’re one of these people!

      One thing people don’t factor in for a photographer’s cost is time. Time is money, and if you spend time at the show all day, processing and editing post show, AND you traveled to the show (often with hotel and high gas costs) all that reflects in the price of the photos to make the bottom line work out.

      1. I definitely see a lot of photos on the web with watermarks on them. I can only imagine how frustrating that is for a photographer. And you’re right, why pay for them when you can rip them off for free! It’s too bad that’s the mentality of some people.

        Editing is definitely a time suck. It’s too bad the photographers don’t get paid to be at the show by show organizers. I’m sure that would help quite a bit.

        I’d be curious to know if photographers can make more money at higher level shows as opposed to the lower level, or even open shows…

  20. I also can not stand it when people rip off photos. There just is no justification. I also always try to buy at least one photo from each show if I can and if there is anything good. Photos are my favorite thing about showing! Sometimes I just can’t afford it, though, no matter how much I respect the profession. At a couple of shows the photographer has had a package deal that included a CD of all photos for $100. I think that is exceptionally reasonable and will almost always go for it unless the photos are just really bad or money is just really tight. My other favorite purchase are digital downloads that are just web quality and reasonably priced because honestly that is what I do with most of my photos anyways… put them on the web.

  21. I feel like I have been spoiled! At the circuit I used to ride, you got professional photos without having to go pick them out (I’m guessing the prices were included in the entry fee). I think if more shows did that, then they equine photography business would be thriving.
    I haven’t seen anybody being mean to a photographer, but I had a cool experience with one once! My friends were watching me show jumpers for the first time and one was taking pictures and the other was taking video. After I had gotten my horse untacked, and my friend was still photographing other horses, I walked back over to her to see what photos she got. The show photographer walked over and started giving her pointers! I just found it interesting that even if someone is taking photos of a potential customer, the photographer still wanted to improve their photographs!

  22. I feel your pain. I’m not a show photographer but i do make money shooting pictures of models and its really not much different. Everyone with a camera thinks they can do it and i cant tell you how many DMCA take down notices i sent out every month. Tons. I chase down my work all the time and i am often called upon to send out notices for previous clients. iI always do because its good business. Lots of people think if its on the Internet its public domain (so not true) It gets harder and harder to make any money shooting. Though i have been toying with shooting equine stuff, i wont do show photography just like i never would shoot events. Not my thing. When i do shoot horse stuff its mostly things i find interesting and is more along the lines of what i shoot in general which is models, only now the models have for legs and a forelock! Oh and don’t even get me started on people (often friends) using the stuff you’ve shot and not attributing it. Chaps my hide!

    Oh and your pictures are lovely.

  23. Occasionally, I buy professional photos from dressage shows, but there aren’t always photographers. At endurance rides, I ALWAYS bought the photos, crappy or not. Those people worked hard for the money, and I was happy to support them.

    At dressage shows, the prices are usually quite high, and I really don’t need more photos for framing (I have a wall filled with photos). I did buy digital copies from one photographer because I loved her method. She sold photos as digital prints that were designed to be shared on Facebook and websites – perfect for what I wanted. I’ll buy those suckers all day. I think she charged $15 for a lower resolution photo (not suitable for a big 8 x 10, but perfect for Facebook).

    Just my $0.25 worth. :0)

  24. Those comments from other people are crazy. Show moms are absolutely nuts! I feel bad enough when K takes pictures of the B man and me and I post them on my blog let alone someone else! I always ask first. I’m glad you still get to go do it for fun because you are really really good and I love your photos.

  25. I do some photography professionally for my job, and a lot of equine photography just because I love horses. There’s a big difference between the photos I take for work, and the photos I take of horses and I’ve never felt like my horse photography was good enough to charge (for one, my lenses are not good enough, and I can’t afford a nice low f-stop zoom lens!). That being said, I love checking out the photos show photographers take of me, but so far haven’t been impressed by the moments they have captured. If I found one that captured a great moment, I would absolutely buy it. As it is, they are often extremely expensive, and I usually justify saving the money and bribing friends to video my rides.

    I work hard to barely afford showing, so while I understand and really appreciate the work of the pro photographers and videographers, I just can’t spend that money most of the time.

  26. Being the actual photographer of the show is hard. That’s often a lot for one or even two or three photographers to cover. My hubby is the non-official, official photographer for our barn which is spoiling for me for sure. I agree while a side job of photography is very feasible, a full fledged job is hard to maintain in most industries these days, because so many people have decent dSLR’s that will get little Susie’s photo well enough.

  27. As a show photographer, I very much appreciate your educating other as to the experiences that you have had as an OP.

    Just tossing out a few more things to consider:

    I’ve been asked to shoot at shows where I was NOT an OP. I have always declined, and point the friend or client to the OP for their photos from that show. I explain that that event has a contracted photographer who is NOT paid by the show itself, and that they are working VERY hard to provide the service, and that as a fellow shooter, I respect them and will not step on their toes. They then have a better understanding, and it’s never cost me a client, or a friendship. Fellow shooters, ask yourself-if you happened across a wedding being held in a public park, with a photographer contracted by the bride and groom, and you happened to know one of the attendees and they asked you to shoot the wedding….would you pull out your camera and do so? (And unlike the majority of horse show OPs, that contracted photographer has already been paid at least a portion of their fees by the contracting parties).

    The only exception for that might be if I talked to the OP BEFORE the event, explained what was desired. Then, only if the OP was ok with my request, would I ever consider shooting at an event where I was not the OP. Again, I respect that fellow shooter and the work that they are contracted to do.

    I’ve been known to buy photos myself from OPs as a gift to a friend or client (the actual image to be chosen later by that friend or client).

    Keep in mind that while it may not be in the actual show ring, barn shoots at a show can still make the difference between a hard-working OP covering their expenses to provide photography for a show, and going home with a financial loss. Every dollar that another pro collects takes money out of the pocket of the competitor, and may make the difference for some, on whether they actually buy something from the OP.

    Competitors – Want to be sure that you have photos from your classes? Talk to the OP ahead of your classes and let them know. If they know that you are definately interested in images of your ride, they will likely do everything humanly possible to makr sure that they catch your class(es).

    Don’t like the work of the hosting organization’s contracted OP? Let the organizers know that. If they don’t know, they can’t change things.

    A “poacher” can affect an OP even if they don’t make any sales, or even give away photos.

    I once had another pro who stepped up to shoot some dressage rides. A competitor felt that their horse was distracted by the actions of that other photographer…and assumed it was the OP (in this case, me) or someone working with/for me. The exhibitor was quite upset (and quite rightly) over it. And guess what? They refused to buy photos because that “OP ruined thier ride”. And they told everyone they knew.

    At another show, there was a photographer shooting all the exhibitors, over the rail. During one class lineup that was facing him, (which included a number of Junior riders), this man proceeded to unzip and relieve himself. I did not actually see this happen as I had my back to him while taking head shots/portraits down the lineup. An adult exhibitor approached me and confirmed that he was not working for/with me and then told me what happened. Next thing I know here comes show management with the same question. Thankfully I’d worked with them enough that they realized that I normally worked solo (other than my assistant on the computer). But there was no way for me to let all those parents in the stands opposite this incident know, that he was in no way connected with MY business.

    I don’t need to have to defend myself, or to test my liability insurance over issues such as this.

    Photographers – If a photographer is upfront and honest with me beforehand, I will certainly try to help them where I can and I know many other OPs who will do that same. But if you approach an OP and they’d rather that you not shoot, respect -and honor – that.

    Bear in mind that there are only so many exhibitors at an event. The OP has expenses to travel to the event and to provide the serivces for the event. Those expenses must be covered somehow. The fewer images sold from the event by that OP, the higher the cost has to be per image to cover those expenses, or that OP can’t afford to continue to provide the service.

    Something else to keep in mind – if you are making money through the show, many show grounds have a commercial vendor fee that applies to those selling saddles, show clothes, feed…and photographs, equally.

    Finally; Exhibitors – if a proof of an image is good enough to take off a photographer’s web site, isn’t it good enough to purchase?

  28. We joined the equine show photographer business about 6 years ago. It grew out of a desire for my husband to have a second career. I have shown horses all my life. My husband had been a skilled amateur photographer for years. In the true sense of the word amateur, he was knowledgeable but did it only for enjoyment and the art.
    Since we opened, the business has grown. We approached the business with an eye to provide the quality products our customers expect. With us coming in from the exhibitor point of view, we have an understanding of the cost to put a horse in the ring and while we are not the most inexpensive in the market, we are not the most expensive either and we offer different options that our customers love.
    Our sense of customer service has also help us. We treat our customers like they are kings and queens and do go the extra mile, if at all possible. Because of these things, we are being referred to show management by the exhibitors and are on track for our best year yet.
    We have little theft of proofs as our software does help prevent it by only allowing a mouse over zoom. We also were one of the first show photographers to offer a “Facebook” size image.
    The digital age has changed what we as photographers do in many ways. We also have to remember that art in any form is only worth what someone is willing to pay no matter what we feel it may be worth.
    Understanding the market and how it has changed from the days of film to today is critical and we have to be willing to reinvent ourselves as needed to stay ahead. I think the future is bright and am very optimistic about our business.

  29. I did a brief stint as a horse show photographer the summer in between college and high school. Hard work, long hours, poor pay and hard-to-satisfy customers! I feel sorry for photographers today because so many people are satisfied with the pictures that friends and family take . . . or feel no compunction about posting proofs on Facebook without ever paying a cent.

    I share your concern that the professional horse show photographer is going to disappear because it’s just too darned hard for even the good ones to make a living. After talking to some of my photographer friends, I wrote this a while ago: http://equineink.com/2010/07/20/is-the-professional-horse-show-photographer-an-endangered-species/

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