Updated: Aug 17, 2020
This year, with starting my photography business, I knew I wanted to really invest in my education. I didn't want to simply be a "shoot and burn" photographer, that shows up, takes a bunch of shots, upload the images for a client, and walk away. I wanted to learn every aspect of creating an awesome client experience, delivering images that are beautiful and wall art worthy, and making sure I am educated on every aspect!
Just as a high school graduate looks to a college to train and prepare for their next chapter in life, to graduating college with the knowledge to go out and obtain a job in the field they chose, I felt that photography was no different. I know a lot of folks are self taught photographers and so was I when I started with the help of some friends who also were into photography. However, if somebody is going to pay me, if I was going to move into making my photography a business, I wanted to make sure I am delivering the best and that I am educated to do so.
So at the beginning of the year, I took the opportunity that Shelley Paulson was offering for the first time, Pegasus an Equestrian Photography Mentorship.
"Shelley Paulson is an award-winning equestrian photographer based in Minnesota. She has combined her deep love of horses with her passion for creating heartfelt, meaningful images to create a thriving full-time career. Her work has been published worldwide and can be seen in various equine publications and advertising for major equine brands such as Horse Illustrated, Western Horseman, Nutrena, and Farnam." ⠀⠀
This mentorship started in February and concluded in July. At the end of June we had a wonderful retreat in Minnesota.
This was no doubt the best investment I have made in myself with my photography so far! I learned so much from Shelley throughout the six months and while at the retreat. She has been such a wonderful mentor to me, going above and beyond! We had weekly zoom calls as a group, whether to learn a new skill, watch editing techniques that Shelley used, and had photo critiques where we learned how to make the shots we did take even better! We also had one on one calls each month to go over exactly what we needed to personally work through. Even on occasion she would see something off with my images and we would hop on another zoom call to work through it! To me, that really meant a lot, as when I think of a mentor, I think of somebody constantly looking out for you. I really felt the entire time that Shelley cared about my success and progress and continues to do so even after the mentorship time is over.
The first day at the retreat we were able to watch Shelley in action during a photoshoot. We were able to see how her flow of work was with her client, her posing flow, location of each shot with the light, etc.
The next afternoon we headed to the Mathias barn to work with off camera flash. This is something I hope to offer in the future such as a "studio" type session. I think the look of images with flash is so stunning and dramatic and I can't wait to offer such mini sessions at a indoor arena soon!
That evening we headed to the Sansevere farm! Mary, Sam and Sienna were so fun to photograph! Just a wonderful family all around!
We had the opportunity to do a few silhouettes, which thinking ahead, Shelley arranged for shots with the American Flag for the upcoming 4th of July Holiday!
We ended the evening with our off camera flashes!
We also had the honor of meeting Shelley's own horses, Maggie Sue and Fritzie and learning from the very talented Bethany Pastorial of Bethany P Photography on her beautiful black background techniques.
The last day of the retreat, was to be a round robin type of a photo shoot. Where we paired up two by two, and rotated between the models and their horses. Unfortunately, storms rolled in, and stopped us from shooting outdoors. But Shelley had no problem switching gears and set up inside with a backdrop and lights so we could practice more studio type portraits.
To top everything off, I feel that I have made life long friends from Pegasus! We all continue to support one another in our photography whether it's just to tell each other what an awesome photo or whether it's a question we have or just to check in to say, "how is everybody doing.. what are your ups, what are your downs" to celebrate our ups and to be there for each other for our downs. Next year we will be doing a reunion perhaps out west with the wild mustangs! I can't wait!
I also would like to mention that Shelley hired a professional chef during our retreat! The food was absolutely amazing!!
To conclude, I can say that the investment in Pegasus has paid off more than I would have ever imagined! I saw my calendar fill up with sessions, helping me to purchase my next camera body (Nikon D6 to give even BETTER images), I have a better understanding on the business end of things, and overall I can see for myself how much my photography has improved over the last six months!
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