A Texas portrait equine photographer
When I was exploring for new people to interview, I came across Kirstie Marie Photography in Texas. I put off calling her because I had just interviewed another photographer from Texas, so I signed up for the Kirstie Marie email list. Once or twice a week I have been getting samples of beautiful horse and rider portrait sessions she is having. The emails are very graphically interesting and personally inviting and you are left with wanting more. It was time to interview Kirstie of Kirstie Marie photography.
Filling a void and knowing what you would want as a consumer
I expected to be talking to someone who had been doing equine photography for a very long time, but I will call Kirstie a relatively new photographer on the scene since she picked up her first digital camera in 2012. Then as she was planning her wedding she decided that she would pick up a Contact 645 roll film camera and after a year of practice in an area felt a need to fill, portraits of riders with their horses, she created her price list and web site and launched.
The importance of not launch when you are in “Beta”
During that first year before she charged anyone for her services, she considered that her business was in “beta” and she developed her portfolio and abilities until she felt she was ready. In our interview she explains how and WHY she does things the way she does and why as photographers we should be clients of other photographers. I think you will find the interview very informative and inspiring. Kirstie is very business savvy which shows in all the choices she makes relative to her branding, website, and marketing that she does with her valued customers.
She started with dressage lessons at 3. You can see her history with horses on her website.
Kirstie picked up a camera in 2012 while in college and planning her wedding. She started with digital, then picked up a Contact 645 film camera (shoots 120 and 200 roll film). Using her own money she practiced for a year shooting film and developing her product and portfolio before telling people she was going to charge them for her services. She was making sure she had something professional. She did not want to put something out there in “beta”.
Medium format film images included in every shoot
She still shoots film some on each session (not 35mm, but 120 and 220 roll film). She has nice digital gear now as well and edits the digital images to look like the film images that come back from her pro film lab. Now she has a Hasselblad as her film camera and is very pleased with its very fast and accurate automatic focus.
Professional and part-time and the importance of outsourcing
Kirstie has a full-time career and her photography business is part-time mostly on weekends. She loves both so she has no plan on changing the current mix any time soon. She likes two to 4 sessions per month, but is a softy and when people call with urgent requests she tries to work them into her schedule. She explained that one time she had a very over packed period of 6 weeks with 16 sessions. Yikes!
About being a customer of photographers
Kirstie is a customer of photographers to learn more about how they run their businesses and to explore how she feels about the experience with other photographers and determine how to improve the experience of her own clients. Kirstie feels strongly that you should put yourself in your client’s perspective as a customer of photography. I would have to agree with her and would encourage you to do the same. Spend some money and have some portraits made from time to time, see how the experience feels and learn.
She booked several photographers who did not sell digital files. It was a great disappointment and very frustrating to her because all she wanted was the digital files, so now she builds her own business as “all-inclusive packages” with additional add-ons for those who want them. But, when we talk about packages, we are not speaking about $295.00
All inclusive packages and what that means
All inclusive packages at Kirstie Marie Photography start at $1495.00. She talks about how she markets to a specific target audience and admits that she is in the heart of horse country. She explains more about what “all-inclusive” means. Here is a page from her website that explains in general terms what is included in her packages. She has this starting package and includes two more packages which focus on adding large prints, canvases or wall collections and custom albums to the list of included items.
Kirstie is very business savvy as I mentioned earlier and she also has a mentoring/teaching websites for photographers with a free email letter list as well. I would encourage you to join her list and consider purchasing some consulting from her if you are starting out or if you want to be top of your game in portrait equine photography.
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Thanks from your host Peter DeMott.