The Photography Business Check up

At the beginning of the year I shared my goal to take my photography to the next level this year. It started with investing in new equipment, i.e a full frame body (Nikon D750) and prime lens (85mm f1.8), and then using that equipment to shoot two pro-bono sessions with well-known local equestrian entities. I also took a survey on the blog of your opinions regarding portrait sessions/equestrian photography in general, and I thank all that participated- the feedback was incredibly helpful! The photos that follow are just a sample of my favorites this year.

And of course I am now partners with Lilybird Flowers!

Since kickstarting everything back in January, I have officially done more shoots in the last 3 months than I did in the entirety of last year. I used any profits from shoots to pay off my new equipment, and now that it is all covered all pennies earned will go into the #newponyfund.

For the first time since I started my photography side-business, I actually am at capacity for how much I can handle. That’s 5 sessions booked for the month of April, and though it feels a little harried between balancing the 9-5 job and time in the saddle, it’s still a pretty cool feeling. The next step feels like building a pipeline of bookings for the future- and this is something I’m less successful in, as most of my sessions are planned weeks out instead of months. Part of this is probably the financial culture of horse people as well as obvious worries about weather, pony soundness issues, and other concerns.

One of my other goals for growth is to incorporate portraits into my horse-shopping travels, which helps offset the costs of hotel/gas/etc. I also love meeting new people and experiencing the relationship they have with their horses. Every equestrian’s journey is slightly different, and every single one has a story to tell. Facebook has been helpful in spreading the word, as well as my connections (and I include blogland in that!) in various areas. My next possible trip may be to northern Virginia/Middleburg area, maybe even this weekend, and if I’m lucky I’ll squeeze in a shoot while I’m there!

Photographing Cambalda will forever be a highlight for me- Ping is the man!

One of the main struggles I have found with this business is the sheer amount of competition there is. While I feel like I am reasonably priced given the work involved, there are others out there who charge a fraction of my fees, or even work for free. Mostly these are younger photographers looking to build their portfolio or just make a little spending money, but I simply can’t, or won’t, attempt to enter a price war that will leave me not being able to cover even my gas. All I can hope is that my style and quality of work will be attractive above the mayhem, but it’s easily to enter into an oblivion of self doubt when faced with the daily barrage of local photography ads.

Still, I am more than excited about the sessions completed so far in 2017 and flipping ecstatic when I think of all the sessions to come. Sometimes I wonder if I am boring readers to death with my Friday photography posts, but I just love to share this other side of my equestrian passions. Thanks for being part of the journey, and if you have something you want to see please let me know!



Photography Friday: Lilybird Flowers Round II

Sorry, not sorry, I couldn’t not share more of the photos from my styled shoot that was also last week’s Photography Friday post. Today’s round of portraits again feature the beautiful work of Lilybird Flowers, and seriously- are you guys not just in love with these flower crowns?

Thanks to Leah of Lilybird Flowers again for including me in this exciting opportunity! Let’s get this party started!

The Queen of Flowers herself.

Photography Friday: Styled Shoot with Lilybird Flowers

When one of my girl friends mentioned to me back in November that she wanted to start a floral business, I was so excited for her, and more than eager to propose we do a photoshoot together that would show off her services.

A styled shoot is an exciting opportunity for a photographer, because you get to exert an unusual amount of control over the aesthetic look of your subjects. In a normal photoshoot, the client chooses their outfits, the location, the horse/pets/etc and so on and so forth- and so they should- its their shoot! But in a styled shoot, the florist and I got to nitpick every detail.

Our model was another friend, who also was my realtor for the House on a Hill 2.0! Katie is a stunning creature and her young Hanoverian gelding, Sully (aka Smush) was a wonderful companion.

The hope is that Lilybird Flowers and I will partner for shoots in the area, using her florals as a wonderful accompaniment to my portrait sessions.

It’s been an exciting week for BGD and I have loved collaborating with Lilybird Flowers so far. Hopefully there will be more floral equestrian shoots featured here in the future!

Happy Friday, all!

Photography Friday: Equestrian Gender Reveal

Horses are a part of our family, even if they don’t (often) fit through our front door! So when Kasey and Trip reached out to me to do an equestrian gender reveal shoot, it absolutely made sense. We scheduled the shoot for the farm where she keeps her retired (maybe to be un-retired!) showjumper Noah, and her baby thoroughbred Tide. We chased the sun all over the farm, and here are the results!

And for the big reveal- this family of 4 will become a family of 5 and welcome their little boy!

Congrats to Kasey and Trip, and happy Friday everyone!

Photography Friday: Christine and Kadet

Christine is a very special friend of mine, and also a huge part of this blog in that she has probably taken a good percentage of the media, particularly sales horse media, that you see on this site.

In return for the countless (because if we’re counting, it’s probably more than 20) hours driving to horse shows or seeing prospective horses, as well as being chief ear wrangler for my photography projects, I was keen to do a photo session with her and her horse Kadet.

Kadet is a special guy himself, a spritely soul turning 19 this year. He is retired from the highest levels of showjumping and now enjoys the good life of trail riding and light work with Christine. When he’s not galloping around his spacious paddock, Kadet’s other skill is proving himself to be the miracle horse. Despite breaking his coffin bone, getting cast in his stall, and fracturing a bone in his leg (all separate occasions), he’s bounced back every time and is the picture of health today.

So many thanks to Christine for her continuous support and friendship! Happy Friday to everyone!

Photography Friday: Ocala Portrait Session


When I went to Ocala last month, I got to meet my first Julieann’s new Irish import, Ollie. So obviously we had to do a photoshoot with him, and her OG Jasper, in and amongst the stunning spanish moss of Horsepower Equestrian. Ollie is such a ham and a typical [big] baby, and it was hilarious trying to position him so that he wouldn’t try and eat the moss that was so conveniently at face level!


We also did horsey version of a family photo, and I have to say, when the boys starting touching noses my heart just melted.






Sadly, the light faded quickly, but not before we wrapped up one of my favorite sessions to date with this sweet moment between J and Ollie back at the barn.


Lots of photos coming over the coming months, I hope you guys enjoy a little photography every week between now and.. I don’t know.. forever! Happy weekend!

Photography Friday: I Bella and Cambalda

Well, I did tell you guys I was going to hit the photography game hard this year, and so far I have made good on that promise! One of the exciting shoots I did to kick the year off was this rather impromptu mini-session done in the warmup arena at Wellington. Cambalda, or Ping as he goes by in the barns, needs to introduction to the eventing crowd. He’s been on the circuit at the top levels of the discipline for many years now, culminating in being named alternate to the Pan American games team.



I Bella is a little newer to the eventing scene but no less talented. She finished 12th in the Eventing Showcase and looks to be an up and coming star for the future and one to watch. And while I understand that she is an absolute fireball under saddle, she is potentially one of the quietest, sweetest horses I have ever met- I mean honestly, how many Advanced level horses do you know that will stand like a statue in the middle of a showgrounds without a lead rope???web-ibella-cambalda-5



I really must thank Erin, Jennie’s groom, and Jennie herself for allowing me the pleasure of photographing these truly special horses. It was an honor and one photography session that will stand out for me for the rest of my life!

Photography Friday: Dr. Fernando and Quincy Car


Here in North Carolina, Dr. Fernando Cardenas and his stallion, Quincy Car, are something of local heroes. They compete at the highest levels of showjumping, and even represented Colombia in the most recent Pan Am games, qualifying them for a trip to Rio.

So it was definitely quite the honor to have them in front of my camera. This was my second shoot with a stallion, and Quincy was fit as a fiddle and just as shiny and conditioned as a horse ever could be.




While I was there, Fernando’s sweet family also joined in on the fun, rounding out a field of highly photogenic subjects!


I mean really, how sweet is this??



The other addition to our shoot was a recent import from Denmark, and the latest addition to the 3H team. Calvin is a hunk of a guy, and I definitely couldn’t leave without snagging a couple portraits just of him!


This was a very exciting session for me, and a real treat. Here’s wishing the Cardenas family lots of luck as they compete in Wellington this season!

Happy Friday, everyone!

Broadening the Photography Horizons – A survey of readers

2016 sessions

2016 sessions

As I shared at the beginning of the month, one of my major goals for this year is to grow my photography business. I’m attacking this aspiration with a vengeance- I revamped my portfolio website (though still a WIP) to reflect my photography centric mission, and tried to include some pricing and examples of my work that I feel like speak most for my brand.


It seems like I’m not alone in this endeavor, however, and a little part of me has lost courage after seeing my local market flooded with other people offering similar services, but at a cost that to me, wouldn’t even cover the gas and time costs at a minimum. Marketing is not my strong-suit, admittedly, so I would love to reach out to you all for feedback.


Since most of my readers are equestrians, and equestrians, especially those active in their local communities and on social media, are my target audience, I would love to pick y’all’s brains. If you have a few minutes, would you, kind reader, be willing to answer a few questions regarding equestrian photography?


If you filled out the survey, thank you, I really appreciate it. If you have other points you would like to discuss (such as pricing, your own experiences, etc), or even better, you want to talk about doing a shoot with your horse a 1,000 of your closest friends (hey, a girl can dream, right?), please shoot me a note at brittwgillis at gmail dot com.


Next weekend my plan is to head off to sunny Ocala, to visit a friend who is a working student there, and then to spectate and schmooze with the fancy folk (from afar, of course) at the Wellington Eventing Showcase. While I’m there I also hope to do a couple portrait sessions, namely highlighting my friend’s bee-yutiful Irish Sport Horse gelding. And who knows where my photography will go from there!


Photography Friday: Worth a Shot Farm


I met the owner of Worth a Shot farm last summer during my horse shopping adventures. My vet insisted I go see a lovely gelding she has, and I admit, if it weren’t that he was an unbroken 2 year old, I would have snapped him up in a heartbeat. But besides my drooling over the horse, I also got to meet the farm’s other inhabitants. The farm proprietor also happens to breed beautiful Cane Corso dogs along with stunning warmbloods. One of her herd is the country’s lone passported silver dapple warmblood stallion, and despite being just a baby he’s quite the eye-catcher! So when the owner offered to help me with some trailer loading work with Smitty, I was keen to pay her back in photographs- and these are the results!











As I continue to grow my photography business, I hope to offer more and more of these black background shots. The silver dapple was an interesting color to photograph, as it is so rich and contrasts dramatically with that blonde mane and tail- and I hope to go back in the fall when this fella’s coat is even more dapply and extreme!


Have a great weekend, y’all!