March 2019 Q&A - Kirstie Marie Photography Mentorship

March 2019 Q&A

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How do you market for commercial work? Or stock photography work?

A lot of my commercial and stock work has been organic – word of mouth, referrals, or people reaching out to me.
However, I do reach out to brands that I want to work with or think that my aesthetic fits well with and try to pitch value propositions to work together!

How do you get the horse to stand still while taking photographs?

I have an assistant to get the attention of the horse. If the horse is very wiggly, I will have multiple people stand around it to try to keep the horse in place. Sometimes, I try to use fences or walls to keep the horse still. Other times, he might be moving because he needs a potty break so I send him back to his stall!

How do you print your thank you note cards? What other client gifts do you send?

The thank you post cards are from Artifact Uprising. I have a lot of branded items (from Sticker Mule: click here for a $10 credit) that I send to clients in their welcome packet!

Do you ever use Lightroom app on your phone?

I don’t have it downloaded, and I haven’t tried it yet!

Would you ever consider making a preset to sell?

Considering that I don’t use a preset for my own editing, I doubt I would be selling a preset any time soon!

What camera is your favorite?

Shop my camera bag on Amazon.

When and how do you start to ask for money for shoots?

I did photoshoots for friends for free or my costs until I was confident that I could produce an excellent and consistent product in any condition (bad weather, tricky light, difficult horses, inexperienced models, etc). At that point, I registered my business. I was charging for sessions, had a contract, bought an insurance policy… the whole 9 yards!

How much time before sunset do you typically start?

I end the session 30 minutes before the sun sets – so the start time depends on how long the session is! For example, if the sun sets at 8pm, I would do a one hour shoot from 6:30 – 7:30.

What is included in the welcome packet you send out?

I have a magazine (with a video of the content here), a hand written letter, and I send a bunch of branded items: a t-shirt, pens, magnets, etc.
A lot of the branded items come from Sticker Mule: click here for a $10 credit

How did you know when it was time to go full-time?

I made the decision to go full-time for several personal reasons, but I felt comfortable leaving my finance job at the point when my top-line photography revenue equalled how much I wanted as a take home salary. At that point, I felt like if I spent all of my effort on photography, I would be able to support myself.

How do you handle clients sending photos to be in magazines but you don’t get compensated for it?

This is tricky! And it really depends on context. If the client purchased the high resolution image and the magazine credited it “Courtesy of (Client Name)” there isn’t much I can do or prevent. If you felt that the magazine published it in error, or without permission, you could reach out to them. If your client gave the magazine the image without purchasing it, you could have a conversation with your client to prevent that from happening again.

Do you ever use lighting? If so, what kind?

Yes! I use the sun. I only use natural light (or headlights from vehicles when Tiffany Cooper makes me shoot past sunset).

What are your favorite marketing techniques?
Anything that will create a buzz! Word of mouth will forever be the greatest marketing you can get. I try to stay on my client’s top-of-mind so they can sing my praises to all of their friends and acquaintances.

How do you avoid burnout?

I ride horses, and I schedule seasonally. My summer and winter and very slow (intentionally). It is early March and I am itching – DYING – to get back into the thick of it. My spring and fall is very, very busy. I travel a lot, I book a lot of my sessions, and I hustle really hard. When I get overwhelmed I take a bubble bath and ride some horses and schedule personal work and trips.

How did you balance having a baby while keeping up with your business?

The hardest part of this was childcare. Once I realized that I needed a certain amount per week to work (on top of nap times!) and hired a great nanny, it became a lot easier to manage. When I travel, I fly a grandmother to Texas to stay and babysit for me.

Any tips on picking a location if they don’t have a specific spot?

You can scout locations by driving around, cruising on Google maps on your computer, checking out local parks and greenbelts, and knowing areas around the city you can take pictures. Make sure the location fits your style and offer those places to your clients!

Do you do your own website or have any good tips on how to make a website better?

I do not do my own website. I have hired professionals to design and maintain my site since 2015. Before that, I would purchase website templates and customize them myself. That is a great, cost-effective way to build a great website!

Do you use any speed light or off-camera flash when you shoot candids indoors at shows?

I do not. I crank up my ISO, open up my aperture wide, and thank Nikon for excellent noise control and low light capabilities.

If your background isn’t as dark as you would like it for a black background, how do you edit a mane or tail that you can see light through? It seems nearly impossible to brush around each strand of hair.

It is nearly impossible. Be very careful about light sources coming through hair when you are shooting. Sometimes I go around strands of hair individually and then clone those edits over to make it go faster!

Raw or jpeg?

I shoot RAW, always. I am very bad about changing my settings between scenes and I underexpose intentionally – so RAW saves my bacon in postproduction!

Would love some tips on how you edit your greens. They are always gorgeous!

Thank you! I usually bring the green hues over to blue, and then desaturate them.

 I would love to know what your standard email response is to session inquiries! I feel like I either say too much or too little in my responses to inquiries and I haven’t found a happy medium yet.

I like to respond to them by name, and thank them for contacting me. I answer any questions and express how excited I am to shoot together. I give my pricing and availability and then always end with a question to encourage a quick response to me. If they don’t respond in 3-7 days, I follow up asking that same question.

How do you deal with a saturated market and competition who copy your every move?

I try to keep my eyes forward, and stay ahead of the curve. As long as I keep changing and developing I will remain in the front. Honestly, I try to stay in my own lane and drive out the noise. Unless the competition is literally stealing from me… in which I pursue that legally to get compensation.

Have more questions? I offer Skype sessions if you want to chat!

Fill out the contact form on the home page to book.

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Kirstie jones

fine art equine photographer

A lifetime horse enthusiast, the Texas-based equine photographer has experienced first-hand the immeasurable bond between a horse and a girl. She strives to capture that special relationship for each and every client.

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