Photography Friday: White Background Portraits

There’s a bit of a new craze in the Equine photography world- and that’s a twist on the ‘traditional’ black background portraits- white backgrounds. Now these are nothing new in terms of portraiture, in fact I’ve been a long time fan of Sharon Montrose‘s studio portraits of wildlife and baby animals (seriously- so cute!). But your average equine photographer doesn’t have a studio backdrop large enough to support a subject as large as a horse. And a lot of us, like myself, use only natural light. So while the concept of the white background is similar, a much different technical approach is used.

In some ways, shooting white background images allows for a lot more flexibility than black background. Whereas in a typical shoot I am constantly searching for soft/diffused light or shade, for these images wide open light is best. I allow myself to slightly overexpose the image, and try and fill the frame with sky behind my subject. This generally makes for a very bright, if not white, background, and then edits in post-processing ‘clip the whites’ in the rest of the background- and voila! White background.
I’m still experimenting with poses (I really love the above one, creating depth within the subject sitting on a completely flat background) and how to look at different colors of horses against the white background.

What do you guys think? Are you into this new trend? Prefer black background? Or not a fan of white/black background at all, and prefer natural-environment/outdoor portraits?

Changes for House on a Hill

I have been blogging now for 5 years. Holy bejeezus guys, for FIVE YEARS I have somehow found things to prattle about to a community of people that I have [mostly] never met in real life. It’s been awesome, and I am still in awe of how amazing the blogging community has been and the incredible horsepeople I have met as a result of this little space on the web.

So don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere.

Instead, I’ve simply outgrown my free little wordpress site. I guess 5 years of content, pictures, and epic animated gifs will eventually fill up 3GB of space.

Quite possibly my favorite

But then this also deserves re-sharing

It’s not always an epic fail though!

Goldenboy has a lot of gif game left in him

Ahem, anyways. Part of the deal of upgrading to an actual plan is that it includes a spiffy new domain. And since really, this blog hasn’t been about a house in a really long time, maybe it’s a good chance to rebrand.

So watch this space, as things are about to get mixed up around here!

Sorry for the Radio Silence

This week has been BUSY.

Also, I decided a great thing to do in the middle of a busy week at work was to go visit my parents and spend a day purging 30 years worth of equine-related nonsense. So smart. So dirty. So many things came back with me that shouldn’t. (shh- don’t tell the hubby)

But beyond all the things crammed into the bed of my truck, I wanted to share with you guys this:

I’m so excited, and grateful for the opportunity to talk about equestrian photography with a community of horse-lovers from around the country. It’s an exciting little adventure!

If you want to read the article, check it out HERE!

2018 Goals

New year, new goals. But with the following provision: these are goals, not requirements. There is no such thing as failing, there is simply moving the needle. Not that I would like to take them any less seriously, but if 2017 taught me anything, it’s that if life brings about circumstances out of my control that results in missing a goal, then it’s not fair, and not useful, to consider that achievement/goal a failure. For instance, last year we aimed to go abroad. Then family health, funeral, and other expenses caught up to us, and we didn’t go. Did we fail to go? I guess you could look at it that way- but instead I think I would rather put our lack of vacationing down as something to attend to another time instead of a failure.

Ahem, anyways, with that said.. Here are my goals for 2018:

The Horse

  • Get his weight up. This is a short term goal, as I expect to not have as many issues once the grass returns in the spring. But homeboy is looking a little rangy despite my literally stuffing him full of food like a hog for slaughter.
  • Gain confidence cross country. Meaning I would like Jack to become the master of ditches, and to be more forward thinking to new fences. This will only come with repetition, so that means I need to commit to getting out as much as possible.
  • Go penalty free at a recognized show. This spring, I’m aiming at the Southern Pines HT in March and Longleaf in April.
  • Move up to Novice. Obviously, this goal is contingent on meeting the above cross country goal. We’re already schooling the showjumping, and well beyond the dressage, but he needs to be less impressed by new cross country obstacles before attacking the black-on-white numbers.
  • Ride a First Level test at a schooling show, likely. But if finances allow, perhaps a recognized show could be thrown in there.

BN looks tiny compared to the yellow moose. PC: Brant Gamma

Photography

  • Book 1 Gold Session/month from March – November. Mostly this will be down to learning about marketing, and will hopefully be aided by the next goal, which is…
  • Implement a referral program. Incentivize former clients for getting the word out!
  • Plan at least one out-of-state photog trip. Last year I did shoots in Florida and at Fair Hill (oh hey Niamh! 🙂 ). I’m not sure if I’ll get to Florida this year, but with WEG and Rolex on my list of events to attend I would love to sneak in some tog-related stuff while I’m there. Also would LOVE to hit up some other destinations, so if you’re interested in a shoot let me know!
  • Save up for the Holy Grail of lenses. The Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2, to be exact. I rented this lens for Fair Hill last year (see below photos from the 3* SJ) and was so impressed. But it will take quite a few precious pennies to make it my own.
  • Start shooting with more precision. I’m hoping to get into the habit of back-button focusing, as well as utilizing all the available focus points on my D750.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Blog

  • Commit to 3 posts each week. Thank you to all who took a moment and participated in the survey. I guess you want to hear more about Jack, so I’ll be doing my best to deliver!
  • Try and get back in the groove of reading everyone’s blogs. I seriously neglected this (just like my own blog) over the last 6 months. Going to try and do better!
  • Write some posts for The Plaid Horse! What what?!
  • Host my first giveaway! Details to commmme!

Results from the Blog Survey

So here’s looking at you, 2018! Onwards and upwards!

Photography Friday: Dyland and Rizzo

You may not know Dylan Phillips personally, but if you’re a horse person on the internet, there’s a decent chance you’ve seen her before. Almost half a million have seen her viral video, after all:

Dylan and Rusty, a few years later ❤

Now a little bit older, Dylan is one heck of a rider and just waiting until her 14th birthday before she can rock and roll around Prelim with her new partner, Rizzo. Rizzo, aka Fernhill Fierce, is an Irish Sport Horse mare and the new love of Dylan’s life. We took these images to memorialize the start of this beautiful partnership, and I can’t wait to see what these two accomplish together!

Have a great weekend all! And please, if you have a minute, check in with yesterday’s poll on blog content!

Photography Friday: Sofia and Sunny

I’ve done so many shoots recently that I honestly can’t remember which I’ve shared and which I haven’t! So let me share one of my more recent sessions- this is Sofia and Sunny, a Welsh cross mare that is just beyond precious. The sweet relationship that these two have was just adorable- Sunny is nothing like your typical pony mare, and Sofia just showered her with love and kisses- all I had to do was press the shutter button!

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Photography Friday: Niamh & Scout

Whilst in Delaware (slash PA slash MD etc etc) for Fair Hill, I put out feelers for portrait sessions. I couldn’t have been more thrilled, then, with Niamh reached out to me saying she’d be interested in getting some photos with the men in her life. Blogger meetup + ponies + pictures = Hell yes count me in! After rolling up to their gorgeous NJ location (and quickly confirming that I was indeed pronouncing her name correctly!) we gushed about the appearance of sunlight (a rarity that week) and I got introduced to Scout, who is a sweetie.

Travis, Niamh’s other main man, also came to join us, and was truly a wizard in creating zen for all of us. With our trio of subjects complete, we wandered the fields and toodled down the path to another barn with the most gorgeous texture that I was in photographer heaven.

Niamh is also a photographer, which put some pressure on me, but luckily she was charming in front of the camera, and OMG her outfits?! Niamh if I come back I may be raiding your closet. Fair warning.

 

loved getting to meet Niamh and only wish that we would have had more time to split a bottle of wine and hang out for a while. Next time, plus the whole closet thing- OK?

Happy Friday all! Hope you have a great weekend!

An infographic view of the year of Photography

At the start of the year, I made a goal to really focus on my photography side-hustle. To get started I made an investment in new kit, namely a full-frame body and an 85mm prime lens that is officially my new workhorse. Then I scheduled a couple free shoots with folks who I knew had a large social media following. This not only allowed me to practice with my new gear in a low-pressure environment, but also helped get my name out amidst the huge number of photographers that pop up in my area every day.

Since then, I’ve made other investments in this endeavor- such as rebranding, and even getting the above headshot done for my website. I’ve learned a lot about marketing my services, though still have a huge way to go in that area. But 10 months later, I’m incredibly proud of where I am. For sure, sacrifices have been made, but every shoot is still so exciting to me and through my photography I get to meet some really incredible equestrians in my area that I wouldn’t otherwise know.

 

I hope you guys are not absolutely fed up with all of the Photography Friday posts, because I’ve got enough in the hopper to essentially see us through the year! Thanks to all who have made suggestions, left kind comments, and in general been on this journey with me. I can’t wait to see what 2018 brings for BGD!

Rebranding BGD

Britt Gillis Design, aka my side hustle, has been a big part of my life since I graduated with my Art & Design degree. It’s an entity that has produced countless t-shirts, logos, website designs, and of course photography.

As any designer knows, creating a brand for yourself is important to providing visual cues to help your audience form opinions. For instance a hand-drawn logo paired with a font like Comic Sans suggests working with children. An elegant, serif based logo can likewise suggest a bran with traditional values and a timeless offering. When I first created BGD, I didn’t know quite what I wanted to be. My logo, then, was a mix of a fun calligraphy font, a modern sans serif font, and a shape that suggested (to me) both design from both a fundamental level as well as hinting at the aperture of a camera. You’ve probably noticed this little ditty posted on all of my photography that I share on this blog every Friday.

However, in time all things change, and BGD no longer emphasizes design in all its aspects. While I won’t rule out any identity projects that come my way, my real focus is the photography that I love so much. That said, I felt like my logo was doing me no great good in suggesting either anything equestrian, nor speaking to the demographic that I typically serve. So I hired a calligrapher and went down the path of creating a new identity with her, and I am so pleased on where we landed:

The colors, the crest, and the whimsy of the design just make me giddy, and I love the subtle horseshoe nestled into the base, finally incorporating horses into BGD’s identity. My new watermark is simply my name now, and for me, marks each image with an image that relates the relaxed yet elegant style that I strive for in my work.

Have any of you gone through a rebranding exercise for yourself, or your blog? What visual components did you feel were needed to communicate who you are? What drove you to making the change in the first place? Did you outsource the rebranding project, or tackle it yourself? What would you keep today, or what do you think could be tweaked to meet your present image?