In today’s podcast we explore the work of Shelley Paulson and discuss her new website focused only on equine photography. We find out the reasons for the change and the results that are coming. Many know Shelley’s outstanding photography and her love of horses. She knows how to run her business well and recently moved to a farm where she could wake up in the morning and talk to her horse from the back porch. Her blog talks of her love of equines and their people and her joy in photographing both.
If you woke me tomorrow and told me I couldn’t be a photographer or filmmaker anymore, it would be like telling me I was going to be blind for the rest of my life. Being an artist has given me eyes to see beauty in the world and people around me. My heart is to share that beauty and tell heartfelt stories with artistry and excellence.
As a child, I was that horse-crazy girl who would spend hours with her model horses, making up stories about them. Every horse had a name, a personality, a heart. In my youth, I spent my summers on horseback, falling in love over and over with these beautiful creatures. As soon as I was grown-up enough to buy my own horse, I bought Maggie Sue, who is still the equine love of my life. When she was younger, we competed in local shows and even won a few ribbons. Now we enjoy hanging out and going on trail rides with friends.
My husband, Tracy. I am blessed to be married to a great man. He is my business partner, personal comedian, and best friend.
My dogs, Toby and Arthur. Toby is my baby and constant companion. I’m trying to raise him right, but he’s a bit spoiled. Arthur came to us as a foster dog, and decided to live out his days in our loving home. His gentle soul and passion for squeaker toys gives us a reason to smile every day.
My horse, Maggie Sue. I bought her when she was two and she’s now 22. She’s sweet, gentle, has a carrot addiction, and holds a dear place in my heart.
My Jesus. He’s the most kind, captivating person I know.
Shelley’s website: http://www.shelleypaulson.com
Shelley’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/shelleypaulsonphotography
Shelley does some spend on Facebook ads with very specific target audience
Born with an affinity for horses
Horse back riding lessons at age 10
Purchased a horse as soon as she could earn the money — 20 years ago. Still has her horse.
She had a graphic design and web design business
Hired by a construction company – started taking photos of construction sites
Struggled with the film camera learning curve
Purchased a digital rebel and kit lens and started learning fast
Started up photography business inside her other business
Undercharged for a short period and quickly realized that she needed to charge more because of the time involved.
2006 Cheryl Jacobs workshop was a huge thing. Until that point Shelley was shooting everything and everybody. The workshop released her to being artist driven and less client driven. She cried at the workshop. Does critique and portfolio reviews with her to this day.
The ONE IMAGE that has given her the direction and focus for her work to this day was pointed out by Cheryl Jacobs during a portfolio review at the workshop.
The personal portrait showing a connection between the horse and rider is something that was gaining some steam. Prior to this it was just “show portraits” and win shots.
How to get people to show their connection. How to pose people without making it stiff.
If it bends bend it. Minimal instructions. How to help them relax and enjoy their time with their horse. Shelley explains “when the horse is inviting you into a moment” to the client. She tries not to interrupt that moment when it occurs.
Pre-consultation. Does not do a lot of phone pre consultation, but does send out a pdf with lots of detail and explaining pricing and frequently asked questions. What kind of clothing to wear. Fly spray.
Because of her experience, she knows when to call things off, when a horse might get agitated and about to blow-up because of flies or whatever. The question of safety at a session came up.
New website and blog post about quitting weddings. A couple of years ago she bumped her head on a fall causing a brain injury and created some brain fog and a great deal of pain. Struggled with pain and stress. Her primary source of stress was weddings. She was stressed at the wedding day and in her lifestyle because of weddings on the calendar.
Shelley was a presenter at WPPI and yet decided to change direction, Welcome Horse LOVERS is her new focus.
She does mentoring. She is working on an ebook about posing horse and rider. Her bread and butter is equine photo sessions with people. She blogs about her client’s stories. Mostly high school seniors.
Full service customized experience for her clients. Minimum starting point is in the $650 range. In person ordering session in her living room. She has 10 hours into a session by the time she is finished. Her average sale is in the $1200+ range. I am not the right photographer for everyone. But, if they want what I offer, then they will be willing to invest in the session. Remember Sessions are not very often.
Uses Pro-Select in the selection session. Does some over email to narrow some before the actual in-person ordering. She can help them, she can show them and they can touch and feel the products and if she wants she can put together something special for that client.
She does not like hype or high pressure sales. She lets them see their pictures beforehand. Then the selection session is just an hour instead of 3 hours. Some of the work is done before the selection session begins. Clients have all the pricing and packages in a pdf that explains all their options so they know what they are getting into when they come to their selection session.
Because of the steady growth over the years, she had the confidence to go to all equine. She did not just start from scratch with her entire focus on equine.
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