I Have a New Blog!

I just wanted to take a moment to thank you all for following me on here, to say goodbye this corner of the internet and do a little introduction to my brand new blog.

www.sophiecallahanblog.com

As wonderful as this blog as been for me, I just felt it was time for an upgrade!

I’ll be leaving the content as it is, on here, but I’ve had this blog space ever since I first started blogging and it was just feeling old and tired to me, so I’ll nolonger be adding to it any more.

This is a wordpress hosted blog, whereas the new one is self-hosted, for those of you in the blogging know. So that means I have a lot more control over the design and can make lots of little changes, as we go along. (So long as it doesn’t involve any more freakin’ FTPing!)

There’s still a fair bit to add to the new space, but I at least felt that after weeks of work and wrestling with FTP and code, it had enough on here to finally share it out into the world!

 

I feel like this past year I’ve not really been as on top of blogging as I used to be, and I plan to really utilise it as part of my social media efforts, from here on out.

So, please take a trip over there, if you’d like to continue following my adventures! Have a little look around, enjoy going back over old posts and don’t forget to leave friendly notes in the comment sections. I always love to hear from you and my new home needs some love.

Thanks a million for your support and I hope that you’ll continue. 🙂

 

Sophie. xxx

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How to Prepare For Your Winter Equine Photoshoot

Everbody wants a summer photoshoot. And I do understand. You all have this image of yourselves on a romantic, sunny evening, frolicking through the long grass, a soft breeze in your hair, your noble steed by your side and butterflies floating around you… Right?

Or something like that, anyway.

But every year I say it… It makes me sad that more people don’t recognise the beauty of a crisp winter session.

I get it. Horses get hairy, the ground gets muddy and we can’t predict the weather forecast… But if you knew how many shoots get rained off in the summer, you’d realise that there’s just as a high a chance of rain, no matter what time of year you book. Whatever time of year, if it rains, we reschedule and try again.

And there are some huge benefits to having your shoot in winter! I’ve written a blog post on this before, which you can find by clicking here.

 

So, if you’ve decided to opt for a winter shoot, here are a few things that will help you get you and your horse camera ready.

 

Clipping

If you clip your horse, they’ll look just as smart as they do in their summer coat. The shine on a clipped horse can be super sparkly if you do it right.
I’d advise clipping around two weeks before your shoot. This gives the coat time to settle and loose that dull ‘just clipped’ look. The natural oils will put a shine back in the coat and we’ll be good to go.

equine photographer essex

Rugging

Hoods, rugs and bandages are a God-send for keeping mud and stable stains at bay. Of course, there’s always that one horse (probably yours!) that’ll find a way to smear his poo right the way inside it’s hood, but we can only hope for damage limitation, right?

Equine Photography, Kent : Katie & Eric - Sophie Callahan Photography

Choosing Your Outfits

Am I the only one that prefers my Autumn/Winter wardrobe to my summer wardrobe? It’s all about layering, people.
I love the textures that winter allows us… Wool, tweed, fur, leather… And the fact that we can accessorise, with scarves, hats, coats, boot warmers, etc.
When choosing your outfits for your winter shoot, I have extensive advice on my Client Area, which you will gain access to once you’ve booked. But make sure you are comfortable, warm and confident, in whatever you choose. If you feel like you’re freezing you’re butt off, you’ll look like it!
Check out my Pinterest board, for lots of warm, cosy, winter outfit ideas.

Survival Guide to Living with a Horse Owner - Sophie Callahan Photography

Footwear

When I get to your yard, we’ll have a good ol’ chat about the location and the spaces available to us.
Think about the ground, wherever you want to shoot. If it’s knee deep in mud, make sure you’ve got boots to wade across in and then if you want to change into something nicer (and cleaner) when we get to the location, you can.
If you’re braving heels, try to find a pretty backdrop with hard ground, so that your heels don’t sink into the mud and you are a little more stable.

Equine Photography, Essex : Teri & Sander, Friesian Stallion - Sophie Callahan Photography

Light

One of the best things about winter shoots is that we don’t have to work too late to get that beautiful evening light, just before the sun sets. So, keep an eye on where the sun sets on your yard, in the run up to your shoot. If we can shoot with the sunset as our backdrop, perfect!

Equine Photography Essex : Hayely & Barney - Sophie Callahan Photography

Embrace It!

News flash: This is not a summer shoot. Winter is beautiful in it’s very own way, with it’s frosty morning, moody skies and soft, golden light, and we want to take full advantage of that. We’re not trying to make it look like your images were taken in the middle of August.
If you want to wear a dress with no sleeves, that’s fine, but bring a shawl or a fur bolero, to make it look cosy, yet glam. Don’t try to brave a little sundress because it just won’t work.
Appreciate winter for what it is and I promise, it will be magical!

 

Did you know? My standard winter shoots are just £70 (they are £85-£100 in summer) and I’m booking for Winter 2016 right now!

CLICK HERE to make an enquiry.

 

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Why I Started Vlogging & What It’s Taught Me

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I’ve been getting a great reaction from people, regarding my weekly vlogs and tonnes of you have mentioned that you really enjoy watching them. But I do also keep getting the question; Why?

‘Why are you vlogging?’
‘How exactly does that benefit your business?’
‘Why bother?’
‘Why do you think people want to watch them?’

I know that people really struggled to see the correlation between photographing horses and posting my life onto Youtube. But I promise you, it’s there!

 

Why I Started Vlogging

When I first started vlogging, back in June, I was terrified. Being on camera was NOT something I thought I’d enjoy. It started as a way to push myself outside of my comfort zone and just as a marketing exercise.

I’m a big fan of watching vlogs. I am subscribed to lots of vloggers on Youtube and I often have them on in the background, whilst I’m editing. They’re easy watching and great for when I’m multi-tasking.

So, that’s how the seed was sown and my fascination with video blogging began.

In addition to this, every social media/marketing guru has been preaching that ‘video is the way forward’ for the past year or so now, so I really felt that I needed to find a way to incorporate video into my online marketing in some shape or form.

Apparently by 2017 video will make up 90% of all internet traffic!

Luckily, for me, social media is not just a chore that has to be done to promote my business. I actually love it! I genuinely enjoy the creativity behind it. So, with all of this in mind, I tentatively made the decision to step my social media efforts up a gear and give vlogging a go.

I had no idea how I’d find it.

 

Why Do We Watch Vlogs?

Videos have proven to be so much more engaging than any other media and we, as humans, are inherently nosey. Take Big Brother, as one example… Not to mention The Kardashians, Made in Chelsea and The Only Way Is Essex, amongst others.

Reality television is nothing new, but the increasingly popular craze of vlogging is taking things one step further, encouraging us to sit and watch ordinary people, going about their ordinary lives, with a voyeuristic fascination.

When you watch a vlog, you are often invited into the most private parts of the vloggers life… their home, their family, their relationships, in a very reality TV style.

It’s this that compels us to really invest in the lives of these people. It’s just like when you watch a film and get emotionally attached to the characters. Or like when you watch your favourite soap opera, night after night and feel as though if you saw one of the cast members on the street, you’d be well within your rights to say hi. They’re a regular fixture in your life and you feel as if you know them on some level.

And now, we are creating our OWN entertainment. Rather than waiting for television companies and Hollywood to churn out something watchable, our favourite vloggers are offering us content on a weekly or daily basis, so we’re never short of a new instalment to feed our fascination.

I want to know what the SacconeJoly’s new baby is going to be called. I want to know how Tanya Burr’s eye surgery goes. And I really just want Carrie Green to upload another vlog!!

 

How Does That Work For Your Business?

So, having taken a good long look at why I was so invested in the lives of these people, I realised that it was all about the connection and engagement that video allows the viewer to experience, with the vlogger. Without ever even meeting them. It’s an incredibly powerful tool!

It’s more effective than blogging, than posting photos on Instagram and Facebook… All of those things are great for building your brand. They inject personality and authenticity into your business. But nowhere near as well as video will!

Hearing your voice, seeing your face and mannerisms, and being allowed into your life outside of ‘work’, is going to create a much stronger connection than any Tweet ever can.

And realising this, I was beginning to see that I could nolonger justify NOT vlogging, if I was serious about building a business via social media.

There are plenty of different styles of vlogging. The lovely Shelley Pauslon, an equine photographer from Minnesota, produces more formal videos about all things horsey. I chose weekly ‘lifecasting’ vlogs as I wanted to really allow the viewers an insight into my life. But there are plenty of ways to introduce vlogging into your marketing strategy.

And no matter what business you are in, if your followers and potential customers feel that level of engagement with you, they’re going to want to work with you. They’re going to feel like they already know you!

And that was exactly it, for me. I really wanted my social media followers to feel like they know me.

 

I went through all the usual doubts, as we creatives always do when we try something new…

‘My life isn’t interesting enough.’
‘Why would anybody want to watch ME?’
‘People will think I’m self-absorbed.’ 

And then I remembered the time I watched a vlog about a single mum spending a day at home with her little girl, playing with play-dough and baking cookies. I didn’t think she was self-absorbed, or boring…. And I realised that my life was no less ordinary than theirs.

I realised that I’m super proud of the following and community I’ve already built on social media and thought that, seeing as they took the time to follow me in the first place, just maybe they’d like to see who they’re following and what actually goes into being an equine photographer.

So I did it anyway!

And I love it!!

 

What I’ve Learned From Vlogging

I honestly never thought I’d say that. I couldn’t ever imagine that I’d love being in front of a video camera. Ask my family! I used to shy away from cameras as much as I could. (Yes, I totally see the irony there!)

But I really do love vlogging!

Ok, so I still cringe at the sound of my own voice sometimes. I want to hide when I edit clips of my sweaty face, with very little make-up on, after a hot, summer shoot and I do sometimes wonder if the internet is really ready to see me on a bad-hair-day…
But there’s something really enjoyable and therapeutic about creating the vlogs themselves.

 

  • It certainly makes you more aware of the way you live your life. For example, last week, I realised that my vlog consisted solely of photoshoots. And that made me realise that ALL I had done, ALL week, was work. I hadn’t taken any time off, whatsoever, to enjoy myself.
    I now find myself thinking, ‘what interesting things can I go out and do this week, so that I’ve got good vlogging content’. And as a result, I end up making sure I take time out from work and find a better work/life balance. That’s got to be a good thing, right?
  • It’s made me more confident about speaking. I used to be terrified of public speaking and now, as much as I wouldn’t be overly excited about the idea, it doesn’t fill me with a bone-deep dread. Progress!
  • I love that I’m documenting my life. My mum and I recently had a conversation about how when we were little, my Dad used to take a video camera everywhere and film us all the time. And how sad it is that nobody really does that anymore. Well, now I do. And I really love that I’ve started recording my life again. I’m excited to have a record of the run up to my wedding, the day itself, the honeymoon, the growth of my niece and nephew, my dog, my family… That’s valuable to me, regardless of work and marketing.
  • And lastly, it’s encouraged people to book! Photoshoots can be scary. I totally understand that. But I’ve had messages and emails from people saying that they watched my vlogs and want to book, as a result. People feel more comfortable now that they ‘know’ me, and see I’m not a big, client eating monster. They see the shoots themselves in progress and get a better idea in their head of how it all works. And they see the results.

I’m so, so excited about the addition of vlogging, to my life. It’s been a more profound exercise than I ever thought it would be and I’m so glad I made the decision to do it.

 

If you’ve got any questions regarding vlogging, or anything else, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you and chat to you guys about it!

 

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FriendsFest & North Wales – Vlog #10

Hey guys! Welcome to Vlog #10. It’s a long one!

This week I’ve had some great equine photoshoots, as well as going to FriendsFest in Hylands Park, Chelmsford and then taking a weekend trip up to North Wales, for work.

In the video, I ask you to share the things you’d like to see in future vlogs and I’d love to read your ideas in the comments.

Thanks for watching!

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Vineyard Wedding – Vlog #9

This week has been quite a quiet week for me. Which is unusual for this time of year. I was originally supposed to have a shoot on Friday and be going up to the CHAPS (Coloured Horse and Pony Society) Championships, on Thursday, but sometimes things don’t work out and both of those plans were cancelled.

So, I’ve been doing lots of editing, blogging and boring admin work, as well as trying to make the most of the down-time and the remaining summer we have left.

At the weekend, we went to a beautiful wedding at the West Street Vineyard, in Coggeshall, for our friends, James and Kirsty (Now Mr & Mrs Lilly!) which I filmed quite a lot of.

Other than that, this vlog is pretty low key. Enjoy!

Thanks for watching! Don’t forget to like and subscribe on my Youtube channel. It’s free!

 

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Chelsea, Jinx, Tonto & Cadet – Equine Photography, Staffordshire

The other week I took the long drive up to Cannock, in Staffordshire, to meet Chelsea and her three handsome boys. Chelsea received a photoshoot voucher some time back, but we’ve only just managed to get around to it. My vouchers don’t have an expiry date as with horses, and the British weather, you just never know what’s going to happen. I like to be as flexible as possible for my clients.

So anyway… I went to see Chelsea the day after her 21st birthday, so firstly, huge happy birthday love!!

Chelsea owns Tonto, Jinx and Cadet, who you may have seen in my last vlog.

Tonto is the grey and Chelsea calls him her unicorn. And I can totally see why. What a beautiful boy. Tonto, or ‘Ennistymon Adam’, is a six year-old Connemara and he and Chelsea have done quite a bit of local showing together. However, Tonto seems to enjoy jumping a lot more than showing, and Chelsea’s aim is to compete in BSJA with him.

Tonto hasn’t been an easy pony and has been a bit of a project for Chelsea. She tells me that he was very nervous when she bought him and was also younger than she first thought, so I get the impression she has put a lot of TLC into this chap and he certainly seems to be a well settled, sweet boy, thanks to her efforts.

Next up we had the larger, darker chestnut pony, who is Jinx. And Jinx was rather a special show pony in his day. Chelsea first had him when he was just three and she broke him herself and owned him until he was eight. ‘Woodrow All Gold’, as he is more formally known when he’s winning titles and championships, is a 15hh hunter and is now semi-retired, as there really isn’t too much more for him to achieve in the show ring.

This clever pair were third at RIHS and then went first, champion and reserve supreme pony there in 2013. They came second (on joint marks with 1st place) at HOYS, won at Windsor and achieved numerous BSPS championship winnings, such as Young SHP Champion, Restricted SHP and more.

In 2014, Chelsea sold Jinx, but ended up buying him back again in 2015. And she tells me that he now has a home for life. He now enjoys a life of pub hacks, lazy strolls around the countryside, playing in paddling pools and there may be a few low-key local shows in his future, just to keep him entertained. “But for now I want to thank him for being amazing by letting him chill out.,” Chelsea says.

And last, but certainly not least, is cheeky little Cadet. The smaller chestnut pony. Whalton Cadet is Chelsea’s twenty-two year-old, 13hh hunter, who she has owned for twelve years. In their younger years, Chelsea and Cadet showed at county level, before moving onto showjumping and pony club.

Chelsea tells me that when she first had Cadet, she hated him. She said that he did the ‘wall of death’ around the menage every time she rode him and definitely taught her how to sit to a naughty pony. And I can attest to the fact that at twenty-two, he is showing no signs of slowing down, whatsoever. I swear, these veterans are the cheekiest of all my models!

Chelsea and Cadet are now trying their hand at Veteran Horse Society Olympia qualifiers, for the first time this year. They achieved a respectable two 5ths, a 4th, a 3rd and a 1st! They also still jump, together, when the showing season ends. And Cadet LOVES it!

Thank you so much to Chelsea and her lovely mum, Maria, for welcoming me at their home and introducing me to their special boys. I hope it’s been worth the wait!

 

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Finding Dory & Spotty Ponies – Vlog #8

Lots of work and not much play this week, in Vlog Number 8, but I’ve been all over the country doing shoots, so hopefully you’ll still enjoy watching some footage from those.

Loving my brand new little vlogging camera, the Canon Powershot N2, and really enjoying being able to take you guys with me on my journeys.

Thanks for watching!

 

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