You may remember earlier this year I had an equestrian & personal brand photoshoot with Rachel Bragg which I was very lucky to have won in a social media competition.
The shoot was probably one of the best & nerve-wracking things I’ve done in a while – I’m definitely no model, although the horses clearly are from the results. Thankfully, Rachel made it as smooth as possible & we wanted to share some top tips for those who might have a shoot booked or thinking about booking one.
1. Why or who should have a Personal Brand or Equestrian/Animal Photoshoot?
That’s a pretty simple question although initially, it feels like a biggie.
Quite honestly anyone who runs a blog (or a business) would benefit from a personal brand shoot. It creates a great visual interest with your potential audience or customers, helps strengthen relationships and adds personality to your content. Never underestimate what they can do from a value perspective.
Likewise, anyone who owns an animal and feels a strong connection to that animal (whether it’s a horse, dog or a goose!) and wants to keep the memories and moments alive from their time together can have a photoshoot.
I’d just like to say I’ve never photographed a pet goose though, so if anyone has one, give me a call!
2. What is a Personal Brand Photoshoot? I don’t have a business, so what would be the point?
Great question Becky! You don’t need to run a business to benefit from a personal brand photoshoot but the aim is to capture your personality, your values and the kind of things you get up to. By showing the world the face behind the blog you are reaching an audience who is more likely to engage and really connect with you, your passions and the messages and viewpoints you want to share.
3. Aren’t they really expensive?
Ahh, that’s a real ‘how long is a piece of string’ question.
The long and the short of it is that it comes down to how you value your personal brand and naturally of course what return you get from the session. I don’t mean a return in a financial way from your audience, I mean in relation to the quality, depth and quantity of the visual content you’ll gain. A great session will deliver a mix of portrait and lifestyle images that will be worth it for many months to come. Timeless images can be used for far far longer.
Costs will certainly vary from photographer to photographer due to experience and geographical location. Session length, the number of images you’ll end up with and whether extras like stylists are involved will also impact the costs, but I would suggest you consider a figure between £300-£800 not unreasonable.
4. What makes a good photoshoot location? What if you don’t have an arena or field close by?
Personal Brand: Well a good location is one that actually reflects your chosen field of expertise. So, if you blog about the countryside then get out in the countryside where the options and backdrops are pretty endless. A blogger specialising in architecture wouldn’t receive too many followers by having photos of them having a picnic at the beach, likewise, a farming blogger discussing the merits of an organic lifestyle could be perceived as a little ‘clumsy’ drinking coffee in street café in London. By all means have that shot of you drinking coffee to show your personality but switch it to a more relevant setting. A farm gate would have far more appeal and authenticity in that particular instance.
You are less likely to engage with them if you aren’t visually positioning yourself too, so be relevant with the where as well as the why.
Equestrian: Shots in and around your yard are always a good option and will provide you with plenty of content choice too. Go ‘large’ and head for a hack and get some shots there too. Pre Covid I’d have said head to a competition and even if you aren’t competing it’s still a relevant backdrop to the overall story. The other options are to hire an arena. Maybe you already have regular lessons, then have that lesson photographed too. There’s depth to your content by creating pockets like this.
5. How much time should you allocate for the photoshoot?
Well, that depends a little bit and might vary from photographer to photographer and the aim of the session. For me the 2 most popular regular business/branding sessions are either 90minutes or up to 3 hours. That’s time on site with you actually shooting. Check with the photographer on their specific session lengths though in advance.
6. What on earth do you wear? How many outfits should you plan for yourself & horse?
Well, this will depend on the angle of your blog really, but I generally think that 2-3 outfits will give you a good variety in your content. You can be clever too, by just switching out a jacket for a gilet you’ve got a really simple change of look. Think capsule wardrobe if you like.
7. Is there anything you can do to help prepare before the shoot to help the photographer?
Yes, definitely! Firstly, talk to your photographer about what you do want and what you don’t want. This might sound obvious to you but actually, a good chat about what you are hoping to achieve is great. Really this should have been done in your first conversations together as that actually forms part of the judgement from both parties if you are right to work together too.
Always give your photographer clear instructions on where the location is beforehand and how to reach it. Make sure any permissions are in place from landowners etc well in advance. Have it in writing if you can.
Make yourself a list of things to do beforehand, which might be as simple as making sure your clothes are clean and fit or it could be to clean any tack or horses if it’s going to include them.
One of the greatest preparations came from Becky herself. She sent through a list of scenarios for me beforehand. I knew what she would be wearing, even down to the Brand, what the focus of that part of the session would be and she listed all the relevant props she might need. It meant that myself, Becky and my assistant all had a common goal to work towards and whilst it might initially look daunting to some, it means you are focused and will probably achieve far more in your allocated time slot that without a clear plan.
8. What top tips would you advise for the day of the photoshoot? What if it rains or is boiling hot?
As mentioned before, from your perspective the best way to gain the maximum content from the session, however long it is, is to prepare in advance. Have ALL the stuff you might want to feature in the photos readily available and clean. So, whether that’s your outfits, products you might want to feature within it and or your horses.
Keeping an eye on the weather means you’ll be better prepared. If the weather looks awful, then generally we postpone and organise an alternative date. If it’s super-hot, then you just need to add a few extra precautions in. Water, sun creams, fly sprays for horses and we’ll be in the shade as much as we can to help everyone.
9. My horse is impatient at standing still for a long period of time – how would you work with that?
Horses are naturally flight animals. What we are doing with a photography session they might not feel comfortable with, it can be a bit unnatural for them to be stood with their owner in place they’re unfamiliar with. Then have random people with clicky black boxes or reflecting boards wandering around them and doing odd things to get their ears pointing forwards! The horses take their lead from those around them too – so ask yourself this, “are you stressed and putting your horse on edge”? If the answer is yes, then chances are the horse is feeling your stress. Deep, controlled breathing from you will set you both on a better path.
I take the standpoint that the horse dictates a bit in these situations when they don’t stand, I will often send them away for a walk, maybe a pick of grass, just to relax them again. Horses are also herd animals, so often having one standing nearby is enough to get them to relax. The photographer needs to be flexible enough to re-compose things. If it’s a particular shot, you really want then it may be as simple as returning to it at a later point.
10. And finally, how long does it take from photoshoot to receiving the final photos?
That will also depend on many factors from the photographer, including existing workload. but I do my best to have the initial gallery available to view in around 10-14 working days. Check with your photographer during your initial consultation what their delivery time frames are. If you have a specific timeframe in mind, then ask about the feasibility of that being achieved too. Some photographers may add a Fast Track Fee for more expedited service.
Any other top tips?
Clothing – be comfortable and make sure what you wear is truly representational of you on a daily basis. If you were a power suit, wear it. If you are jeans and shirt/jumper girl then wear that and don’t be tempted by the power suit!
Above all, relax. The more you relax and laugh at things (things do happen) the better your experience will be.
Thank you, Rachel, for sharing your fab top photoshoot tips, we really do hope they’re helpful to anyone planning on having an equestrian or personal brand shoot.
To find out more about Rachel Bragg Photography, check out her social media pages & website below:
- Facebook Rachel Bragg Photography
- Instagram @rachelbraggphotography
- Website rachelbraggphotography.co.uk
If you enjoyed these top tips, why not check out one of my other popular blog posts with Katie Kimber Cleaning Tips for Busy People.