Tag Archives: equestrian

52 Fridays – #19 When It’s Time To Hire A Pro Photographer

52 Fridays is a year-long series for equestrian professionals and equine business owners and managers, with marketing and public relations information, ideas, tips, & resources shared here each Friday. New EMAIL blog subscribers receive a ’52 Fridays’ PDF when they sign up; existing subscribers and new RSS FEED & WORDPRESS subscribers can send a request for their own PDF here.

Images of horses are crucial in our world. Whether you’re selling a horse, a feed supplement, a saddle, a horse trailer, or a new barn, nothing grabs a horseperson’s attention like a beautiful, majestic equine. I don’t know about you, but I even notice horse statues or paintings in TV commercials and home decor magazines!

Last week I offered up some tips on how you can improve your DIY photos of horses…this time, I went to some of my favorite commercial equestrian photographers to see what they had to say about ‘when it’s time to hire a pro photographer’ and what doing so could mean for your horsebiz. I hope you enjoy their thoughts on the subject.


As a horse owner, a rider, and prospective consumer of training services and horse purchases, photos that make an otherwise professional equine business look very unprofessional cause me to turn away from their advertisements, including:

  • Photos of horses which are distorted, such as a huge head with tiny legs and body;
  • Horse photos taken at the incorrect point of stride, causing the horse to look lame; or
  • Photos that have motion blur, are too light or too dark so that I cannot see the horse.
Hire an equine pro IF you want your business to look professional. Who is an equine pro? That’s hard to discern with so many people owning a pro camera and handing out business cards. Look at the person’s work, ask for references, and ask if quality of work is guaranteed. Expect professional prices; you do get what you pay for. You can also expect the sessions to go more quickly, without the horse becoming annoyed from having to repeat a task too many times; that the pro equine photographer can show you how to set up your horse for photos by taking your horse in hand and doing so; and for your photos to be fully edited and made ready for Internet as well as print advertising.
Sharon Packer
Horse Sports Photography


You really need a pro photographer when you want to advertise a black horse. Black is notoriously difficult to capture as it absorbs light and tricks most automatic cameras. A pro photographer is able to show off your black horse in diverse lighting situations and with detail!

Leslie Heemsbergen
Leslie Heemsbergen * Equestrian Photographers


The difference between a ‘pro’ and a good amateur is less about equipment and technique than it is about knowledge, experience, and consistency. A ‘pro’ knows the subject, and how to present horses in the best possible way. That’s one reason why you should hire a professional horse photographer, not a professional wedding photographer.

The pro also has the experience to maximize the capabilities of her equipment, and address any lighting issues that may exist due to the venue, weather, or time of day. A pro can also help the owner / business operator select the image(s) that will best portray the message they want to convey.

Ceci Flanagan-Snow
Images by Ceci


I’ve been working on a book, and it’s been pretty weird that after a couple of the shoots the people we interviewed lost one of their beloved pets. Not amazing of itself but they were so grateful that, as luck would have it, they had ‘pro’ images to remember their family member by. I’d say, don’t depend on luck, and don’t put off taking the time to find and hire a pro to create something lovely of your animals/family/event. When the time comes, you’ll either look back and wish you had, or just plain regret that you have nothing nice in pictures.

 Sharon Fibelkorn Chapman
Sharon Fibelkorn Chapman Photography+


The amateur photographer may get that occasional good shot, but the professional has invested their time, energy, and money to perfect his craft by understanding the little nuances that make photos stand out. It could be the lighting, or the detail in the image or the composition. On top of that they have spent the money to purchase equipment that can enhance the photo and give it zing. For instance, if they are shooting tight shots they may be using a macro lens; for equine sports in big fields, they might have a longer lens that will allow them to get as tight to the image as possible. You can have very basic camera equipment and get the job done, but better equipment can get the good results more consistently every time, especially for those once-in-a-lifetime shots you don’t want to miss. We need to support horse people, including equine photographers, who work hard to hone their craft, because we don’t want to lose all that wonderful knowledge gained over years of experience.

Diana De Rosa
Diana De Rosa Photography


In closing, I’d add that you should definitely hire an equine photographer when you have once-in-a-lifetime shots that you can’t afford to miss, and when your focus needs to be elsewhere, such as if you’re running an event. For those situations, you’re not just hiring a professional, you’re buying peace of mind.

How do you determine when you need to hire a pro horse photographer for your horsebiz? Share your thoughts via the Leave a Comment link below. See you here next Friday for 52 Fridays #20!

Read other posts about Facebook by clicking on the Sort Posts By Topic dropdown menu to the right and selecting the Facebook category, or you can select 52 Fridays to read posts #1 through #18.


Filed under 52 Fridays, Equine Industry Marketing, Photography, Uncategorized

Monday Morning Quickie – Like It Or Not, Twitter’s Worth A Look

Many people tell me they prefer Facebook over Twitter. Either they find Twitter too confusing, or they say they don’t like the updates about what someone had for lunch or what music they’re currently listening to. However, with Twitter’s evolution and recent growth, it might be worth a second look as part of your overall marketing strategy.

Twitter has had phenomenal growth this year. From 105 million users this past April, to 145 million in early September 2010, and now up to a mind-blowing 175 million users, that’s some pretty incredible growth. PCMag.com reported on 10-31-2010 that Twitter is now on-track to break 200 MILLION USERS by the end of 2010; that’s growth of about a half-million people/users/Twitter accounts each day.

As for what’s being tweeted, or shared, via Twitter, it’s evolved from the ‘early’ days. Advertising Age reported earlier this month about how Twitter users adopted the platform and used it for everything from political organizing to headline news sharing.

I’ve found Twitter to be a great tool for interacting with people in real time; I love the immediate feedback and connection that Twitter allows. Twitter is also a good search tool, using the # sign (referred to as a ‘hashtag’ on Twitter) which makes a keyword searchable. For example, if you include the word ‘horse’ in your 140-character tweet, but you include the hashtag (#horse), that makes it a searchable, active link – and anyone searching for ‘horse’ on Twitter will find your tweet that included #horse.

The equestrian community is also growing and evolving on Twitter. There are more horsey ‘tweeps’ (another word for Twitter users) on Twitter, and there are the beginnings of some regular gathering forums using Twitter:

  • HorseChat is a weekly Twitter chat organized by Mandee Widrick of Horse Family Magazine (@horsefamilymag on Twitter); all are welcome to follow and join in. To do so, go to tweetchat.com on Monday nights at 9 PM Eastern time, and enter HorseChat into the box at the top – you’ll be able to follow all the HorseChat tweets. You can tweet directly from your own Twitter account, or signing up for a TweetChat account will let you follow and tweet from the same place. Mandee also now archives each week’s HorseChat at the Horse Family Magazine Web site.
  • Also on Mondays is the Horse Social Media Chat (#HorseSoMe); you can also follow along at tweetchat.com, just type in HorseSoMe in the box at the top.

What do you think? Do you love Twitter, or hate it? See it as a necessary marketing evil, or a tool to be embraced? I’d love to hear what you’re thinking about Twitter.

I’m thinking…175+ million people can’t be all wrong.

Leave a comment

Filed under Equine Industry Marketing, New Media, Twitter, Uncategorized

Monday Morning Quickie – You Can’t Beat This Kind Of Exposure

Last night, the unbeaten Thoroughbred racehorse Zenyatta was profiled on CBS’ 60 Minutes show. Asking the question ‘Is Zenyatta The Best Racehorse Ever?’ the show followed the mare for a week, covering her every move from grooming time to morning works to meeting with her fans..

Image courtesy Guinness.com

But one of the ‘omg moments’ of the segment brought some of the best publicity you can get: An unpaid product placement for the Guinness brand of beer, which Zenyatta gets occasionally as a treat from her trainer John Shirreffs. And, apparently, no other beer will do, since it’s the only one she’ll drink!

This is the kind of third-party recommendation that PR folks dream about. Zenyatta is at the zenith of her career, unbeaten in 19 races and with her 20th, and final, being the prestigious Breeder’s Cup Classic that she won last year, the eyes of the equestrian and sports worlds are upon her.

Since win or lose she’ll retire after the race, she’s a sentimental favorite, but she also has a real shot to win and take home a $3 million paycheck despite being six years old and the oldest horse in the field. There were also a record-setting 184 entries in the Breeder’s Cup races, which will be run this year at Churchill Downs, home to the world-famous Kentucky Derby.

Combine all that with the cachet of being in an excellent segment on 60 Minutes (that you can watch here if you didn’t see it when it aired), and with that type of unsolicited endorsement and primetime publicity – it’s like capturing lightning in a (beer) bottle.

I wonder if the Guinness folks will jump on this? Hmmmm…she could be the fastest, biggest, hairiest female to ever be featured in a beer commercial.


Another touching equestrian moment occurred in the same 60 Minutes show; loveable curmudgeon Andy Rooney talked about seeing the Secretariat movie in his show-closing segment. Apparently he’s visited Saratoga annually since he was a youngster, seeing some of the greatest racehorses of the 20th century such as Man o’ War, Citation, Whirlaway, and War Admiral. And yes, Secretariat.

You can watch Mr. Rooney’s clip here, or read the transcript. I thought it was amazing that he’s seen so many of the racing greats in his lifetime. While he’s not a big fan and only goes to the track occasionally, he points out that a movie isn’t a substitute for actually being there…but that the Secretariat movie comes close.

I would agree – if you haven’t yet seen it on the big screen, catch it while you can. The action sequences are spectacular, Diane Lane does a fine job in the role of Penny Chenery Tweedy, and while there are some glaring continuity errors that a horse person will catch, it’s a movie that kept me engaged and that I felt was well worth paying premium to see it at the theater.


Filed under Equine Industry Marketing, Uncategorized

Monday Morning Quickie – Is Your Equine Business Telling Stories?

This morning one of my Twitter followers tweeted the following:

from Twitter.com




In case the image is too small on your screen, it says ‘My most valuable class in college was creative writing. Storytelling matters so much in marketing.’

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about just this topic. I think so many good horse professionals get hung up on the terms ‘marketing’ and ‘public relations’ and don’t realize that at the very heart of good marketing is simply telling your story, to an audience that will respond to that story.

In a story, you want to know the ‘who, what, when, where, and how’ – it’s like in the game Clue, where you learned that Colonel Mustard did it in the library with the candlestick. That told a story, and gave you information you needed.

Several years ago, a friend of mine, executive coach Barry Zweibel of GottaGettaCoach! Inc., gave me a book titled ‘Not Quite What I Was Planning – Six Word Memoirs By Writers Famous And Obscure’ – it’s a play on the legend that Ernest Hemingway was once challenged to write a story in six words. His story?

For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.

According to the book ‘Not Quite…’, Hemingway said it was his best work. And in modern times, sometimes six words is all you get to capture someone’s imagination and get your message across.

I recommend seeking out the book and at least flipping through the pages. It’s not only inspiring to read what people write about their lives in six words (and enough people thought so that it became a New York Times bestseller), but it’s a good lesson in storytelling.

If you had to sum up your marketing message in six words – what would they be? If you want to take on that challenge, send it to me via the Comments and I’ll post the six-word marketing messages here.

Make it a great week!


Filed under Equine Industry Marketing, Uncategorized

Monday Morning Quickie – Are Online Horse Auctions A Fad, Or The Future?

You might have read my article about the high tech/high touch Al-Marah Arabian Galleries that opened this summer at the Kentucky Horse Park; if you’re an Arabian lover who’d like a piece of Al-Marah history and breeding for your own pasture, an upcoming online auction of Al-Marah stock might be just the ticket. Still, do you think buying a horse through the computer beats buying one in person?

Online horse classifieds and Web sites have been around for years; many riders have found their ‘dream horse’ through these resources, and many horses have found new homes across the U.S. and elsewhere. But what happens to a horse purchase when you add in the high-pressure atmosphere of an auction?

The Al-Marah online auction, through Addis Equine Auctions, is set up with an eBay-style online bidding process that starts October 28, 2010, and ends November 2nd at 6 PM CST. Then, two hours later at 8 PM CST, Addis opens up live bidding, where bidders can hear the auctioneer over their computers just as they would if they were present at the auction grounds, and submit their bids over the computer. I guess having the live portion prevents that ‘last minute swoop-in’ and losing your desired item to someone who had a faster Internet connection than you did.

Do you think online auctions of horses are the future, or a fad? Would you buy a horse this way? Send in your thoughts via the Comment link.

Make it a great week!


Filed under Equine Industry Marketing, Uncategorized