To be totally honest,
pursuing a freelance photography career is extremely hard. Most people assuming you are simply pressing a button but unfortunately it isn’t that simple. Between editing for hours at a time, pouring money into gear & advertising materials, and battling constant self doubt, your passion becomes a job.
In 2017 I told myself I would put myself out there more and try to rediscover the inspiration that I was addicted to when I was younger.
Putting myself out there is hard enough but trying to find that thrill of shooting that I had when I was younger is even harder. I find myself going back to when I was 16. My friends and & I buying old wedding dresses from salvation army, hustling it up to the barn in excitement even though beading was missing & the lace was ripped.
These pictures were from the first ever ‘Horse photoshoot’ I was involved in. They were taken in 2010, 7 whole years ago. That’s a little mindblowing acknowledging when (and where) I first started. My friend at the time Ellie was an amazing photographer. She had this great way of utilizing what she had and just looking at things differently. Ellie took the top left photo and the photo on the right.
The modern day 'Adulting' pressure has gotten to me over time. The stress of paying bills, keeping my animals healthy & well maintained, & cleaning/keeping house has broken down my muse that I once relied on. I find myself often lurking other seemingly successful photographers and getting discouraged. A nagging voice in the back of my head (that sounds a lot like a few family members that I will leave unmentioned) tells me over & over again that I will always be scraping pennies and never find monetary 'success'. By the way, those are the same voices that told me to go work in a cubicle for my whole life.
Now I'm not in any way perfect.
I have let down clients, not met deadlines, run away from potential events that seemed too 'scary' to face. I have made MANY mistakes as both a professional, and a friend. Every year though I change, adjust, over & over again, and finally after 5 years of persuing this crazy career I feel truly ready to throw myself into the world... Except for one thing.
After all this time I realized that I need to find my passion once more to truly feel fulfilled. Even though right now monetary success isn't in my reach (and honestly, it may never be), I can at least feel that fire that erupts inside of me when I create an image that makes me stare. To do this I had to start going back to my roots & figuring out what really inspired me.
MEETING ERIN & TRINKET
I had accidentally taken photos of Erin riding at a horse show at LA Equestrian Center. One day I had somehow found her modeling page on Instagram (@theerinkennidy) & she looked hauntingly familier. That was when I put two & two together. I quickly tagged her and after chatting for a bit we decided that we had to get together to shoot.
The original image that connected Erin & I. She was riding a clients horse who I had seen from the corner of my eye. I was focusing on shooting the reiners in the next arena but once I saw that tail I HAD to turn around and snap a picture.
At this time it was 2016, and I was still struggling mentally to deal with some personal things along with finances. I was also battling the internal struggle to run away from pretty much anything intimidating, and initially even though Erin & I had many things in common I was still scared inside. At every shoot I do, every show, even shooting for best friends & family, I get nervous. Luckily I am learning how to tackle those fears head on and slowly I have gotten more and more initially confident. Still though sometimes those tiny little voices haunt me, telling me that failure is inevitable.
Fast forward to 2017. With help from friends & mentors I started to feel more comfortable, so when Erin contacted me to shoot I obviously said yes. We talked about inspiration and realized that the both of us had the same ideas and vibes, not to mention she has a beautiful Palomino Saddlebred mare named Trinket (that was enough INSPO in itself). Together we mused about looks, concluding that both of us are equally obsessed with concho belts and turquoise.
When we met up we started with a photo session of Erin cleaning up Sir Quinn & braiding his mane for a magazine publication. I really don't understand how these people do it, I mean this horse has a LOT of hair. Beautiful, lovely, hard to maintain hair. Unfortunately I had a memory card malfunction and have yet to recover the mane braiding photos, add this to the *still learning* list.
Erin & Sir Quinn; a clients horse. PLEASE OBSERVE THE GLORIOUS FORELOCK!
After playing with Quinn,
we met up with Erins boyfriend (who is also an awesome photographer @davidmolleck). He brought along the clothing options we discussed & helped a ton before/during/after the shoot. We started the shoot off with Erin's personal collection of western styled gear. She has her own style and I wanted to embrace that as much as possible when shooting.
Erin had told me that she knew of a large open field behind LAEC. David & I on foot trekked behind Erin & Trinket. We fought mud the whole way since LA recently was getting hit by rain over and over again, but once we arrived I understood why Erin had brought me to the location. In a concrete world it was a breath of fresh air. It's not often in LA that we find open spaces. To any outsider this little field wouldn't really be considered that 'open', but to us LA horse folk it was more than enough.
Above you can see that an iPhone example of both of the looks & backgrounds we were working with. The small field was circled with houses and right next to a large overpass, but with the correct angles & light tricks we could make it seem less like a city scene.
At first I was working with the hard light, but eventually we shifted into the shade and Erin, Trinket & I started to really get into it. At the end of this session I would have said that the photos in the yellow dress were my favorite, but now I look at the western styling and the confident poses that Erin brought I can full say that I feel truly inspired by the photos you're about to see.
We we're about an hour and a 1/2 into everything when we decided to move onto the dress. Trinket at this point had been very well behaved but was really wanting some of the yummy grass surrounding her. What horse wouldn't?
Now please take a moment to reference the iPhone photos that David took as 'behind the scenes' shots that I pulled from Erins instagram. In it you will see a small pool of water & the darkening light. The sun was starting to get lower and I wanted to take advantage of it as best as I could. The 'pool' of water was more like a cess pool. It was filled with trash, algae, and was essentially just rotting rain water that collected on the sand bank in the middle of the field. I wanted to highlight the sunlight using the water as a reflector and really capture the golden lighting.
In the first photo pictured you can sort of see the 'cess pool' that I was talking about. But by using the light to reflect up & adjusting my white balance everything turned out warm and golden to match Erin & Trinkets beautiful manes.
Finding inspiration doesn't just... Happen.
It's not easy to rekindle a fire inside of you that has gone out. I feel like my generation is filled with lots of people who believe that walking away from things when they get hard is the best solution. I have always thought the exact opposite. I have been stubborn when it comes to my passions, but as I get older those doubtful voices haunt my head. There are many skilled photographers out there, but they all started somewhere.
On this day with Erin (@Theerinkennedy), her boyfriend David (@Davidmolleck) & their wonderful mare Trinket, I earned a tiny piece of my soul back & remembered why I started this crazy journey in the first place.