Professional Imagemaker Magazine contacted me out of the blue!
To say I was shocked and flattered is an understatement.
I had come to their attention! of a few people at The Societies of Photographers and Professional Imagemaker Magazines, firstly because I have an interesting name ‘Shiralee‘ but the main reason for my horse portrait photography.
When I took that phone call from the Professional Imagemaker Magazines Features writer Angela Adams, I must admit I thought it was a wind-up.
But no! the magazine really did want to interview me about my work and my Equine portrait journey.
If you are a member of The Societies of Photographers you can read the digital copy here… Professional Imagemaker Magazine
Shiralee first came to my attention in The Societies’ Facebook group. Firstly, because I thought what an interesting name! And secondly, because I found her equine photography beautiful and that she was not wholly aware of her talent. This was reinforced by her response when approached to feature in this column – Shiralee’s gut reaction was, there must be much better people than me!
Do take a look at Shiralee’s work; this lady knows horses and it shows in her equine portraiture.
What motivated you to start in the industry?
My interest in photography started from taking snaps of my children and their ponies at Pony Club. That swiftly grew to me photographing friends’ children and ponies; I’d been bitten by the photography bug and photographed everything and anything. Later that year I photographed a few weddings for friends but for many years photography remained a hobby as horses were our life.
Fast forward several years …my husband saw a job advertisement for a staff photographer at our local newspaper and suggested I apply. After a lot of excuses why I couldn’t or shouldn’t apply, I put a varied portfolio together and was shocked when I got the job. I remained working for the paper for 13 years until it ceased trading in August 2019. In 2020, just before lockdown, I became self-employed.
What’s your mindset when you get up in the mornings?
What am I going to shoot today? Having worked for the newspaper for more than a decade – with every day being so varied (as the reporters ran my diary) – I haven’t gotten out of the habit of taking pictures every single day. I still take a camera, with a 24–70mm lens attached out with me each day. I don’t always set myself a photography goal, I simply see what presents.
Did it take you long to establish your name and brand?
I don’t think I am established; I feel I’m like a best-kept secret.
Do you work alone or employ staff?
I don’t employ staff but when I’m photographing horses I work with the owner handling the horse or the groom or the owner’s friend, someone who knows the horse.
How do you attract clients and what market do you target?
This is all very new to me. When I was first made redundant from the paper, I tripped and stumbled for a few months, trying to decide what genre I was going to pursue. Then COVID hit and I decided to look at the bigger picture, marketing and direction. I started by editing photographs of friends’ and clients’ horses and entered competitions; my love of horse portraiture as a business was born.
Do you manage your website, SEO, marketing, social media presence and PR or do you outsource?
I do it all myself (badly, at times) but I don’t have the funds to outsource at the moment as I’m still growing my business. I watch a lot of webinars and YouTube videos to educate myself and learn best practices. I have built my own WordPress website and use Yoast to help me with SEO. However, I never know what to write as I don’t think people will be interested in what a do!
What’s the one piece of kit – camera aside, you wouldn’t be without and why?
My iMac, Photoshop and Lightroom, that’s three I know! I just love editing images, as in my opinion every portrait needs individual editing to show each horse at its best.
What’s the best single piece of business advice you’d like to share?
I don’t feel I’m in a position to offer others business advice as my journey is only just starting. I’d say be a sponge and soak up as much advice and information you can, and implement it in a way that suits you and your goals.
What do you love photographing and why?
Horses. Horses are a big part of my family life. I have owned and bred horses for over 50 years. I know horses and can read them; I know how to get them to look their best.
What would you say is the most important challenge you’ve faced as a photographer?
Getting 20 images ready for The Societies’ Mentor Me programme. I suffer terribly from imposter syndrome and don’t want to waste people’s time.
Looking at a photographer’s portfolio can be revealing – what does your portfolio reveal about you?
My old portfolio was news-story based. Royals, MPs, sport and products; I hope that my portfolio now reflects my love of horses and beautiful portraits.
Do you enter competitions – if so, is it with your day-to-day work or do you shoot specifically to create a competition image?
I only started to enter The Societies’ monthly image competition this year, with photographs of my client’s horses and was lucky enough to be awarded gold in the monochrome section in February. I‘ve been thinking of putting out a model call for a specific type of horse to photograph, so I can enter a resulting picture in the competition as during lockdown I couldn’t work – stable yards wouldn’t allow non-essential people access.
They are beautiful. Horses are also a subject that I love and fully understand.
What’s your why?
I love to make portraits – when you see your horse every day you don’t necessarily see the beauty in that horse. I hope the way I capture and edit the horse in my pictures can show the owners the true beauty of their horses.
Who inspires you?
Wow! I am in awe of so many people, too many to list. Amazing photographers, artists and Photoshop wizards. I admire so many and try to glean snippets from them all to try to improve myself.
What do you love, hate, can’t live without?
Love: People asking me to photograph their horses. Hate: Having to promote me.
Can’t live without: The support and encouragement from my husband, and Coffee – I’m a Nescafe junkie
Anything else you’d like to share?
I would love to take my photography journey as far as I can, I love learning and improving myself and my work. One day I may think my work is good enough to try for my Licentiateship Qualification but I have to get those 20 images together for mentoring first – #impostersyndrome.
Just for fun!
City or country? Country
Spender or saver? Saver
Sunrise or sunset? Both but I only get to see the sunrise in the autumn and winter, I can’t get up at ‘silly o’clock’
Chocolate or cheese? Strong cheese
Coffee or tea? Coffee
Movies or books? Books
More about Shiralee:
Thank you To Angela Adams and Professional Imagemaker Magazine.
Professional Imagemaker Magazine.
The Societies is a fabulous ‘Society’ to belong to, their support, community, and training, in my opinion as second to none.
If you are a photographer I highly recommend that you join them. They offer a Free Trial so what have you to lose!