I am still very new when it comes to photographing horses. I took my very first photo of a horse (which happened to be my own) with my smartphone back in June of 2015 and then I went a full year before I started taking casual pictures of horses with my camera. At this time, taking pictures of horses was almost an after thought to me, not because I didn't enjoy doing it but rather it was just too unfamiliar to me and I was so preoccupied with other happenings going on in my life.
I would take fun pictures here and there anywhere from once a month to once every couple months, but I only shared them with a few friends. I did endless amounts of reading on how exactly to photograph these animals, as well I had to learn the conformation of a horse and how they can (and most importantly should) be photographed.
At this stage, I was also becoming a much more knowledgeable horseman in learning their language, personalities and how they communicate with each other. It just so happens that it was during the same time when I was auditing various types of Equine Shows & Events across Southern Alberta - mainly Gymkhana, Horsemanship, Cowboy Challenge, Barrel Racing, Western Pleasure, Liberty, some jumping, some Cart Driving for my own pleasure. I spent a lot of my time at clinics and listening in on lectures.
As a spectator I did shoot one show from the stands, 200 ft away from the horses and their riders. I experimented, had fun and thought to myself, hey I will have to try this again sometime!
This (and the overwhelming support from many others) eventually led to educating myself on knowing what to capture and ultimately knowing what sells. There was a good learning curve for me mainly because photographing horses is significantly different than where my experience comes from, this included me having to adjust my style from an artist's point of view to cater to what the audience wants.
Taking a photo in your style is great but it's useless if it's not in the form of what the audience wants. This is where I had to really adapt. Again, my background from many years ago was shooting portraits of people in a studio, corporate headshots and covering a handful of friend's weddings - not horses, or even anything horse related. So it's quite the change once you bring in a 1000+ lb animal into the picture especially when they have their own language.
Approximately summer of 2016 was when I found my passion for photographing these beautiful animals but the idea of doing it professionally still never crossed my mind. Why? I felt that my lack of experience was going to be my biggest downfall and that I was too late to join the party.
One thing that I know in the photographic (and video as well) industry is that experience is huge! It is king! It is THE one thing that everyone looks for in a photographer (and videographer). I felt that my just over a year of experience in photographing horses and the same goes for auditing Equine Shows & Events was just not enough to even consider doing this on a professional level.
I was constantly told that I was not ready. I lacked the experience. I needed to read more, audit more, observe more, learn more from others, educate myself more and then in a few years I could reconsider, but to not even consider it at this time because I would fail. Well I agreed that I lacked the experience but I disagreed in that I wasn't ready. If i wasn't ready then I knew that I was very close and that I was willing to do whatever it took to get me there.
However, with all that being said, as the days, weeks and months went on I still knew deep down that I had skill sets that I could market to the Equestrian world right now - I just had to get better, so in the spring of 2017 was when I started shooting horses more seriously and more frequently. My initial goal was to see how quickly and how well I could progress throughout the course of the year, and then re-visit the idea of doing this professionally down the road.
My photos started selling in Fall of 2017 and that was when I decided to take things on from a professional business sense. Even with that being said, it was not an overnight decision, it took a lot of careful planning and decision making to make the call in launching my services at the time that I did.
Don't get me wrong, even though I see myself as an educator to others teaching them and sharing my knowledge on Photography and Videography, I still very much consider myself as a learner in the Equestrian world. Like I have mentioned, horses teach you something new every time you are out and I just keep implementing the building blocks for next time.