How To Self-Commission For Equine Photography

Have you always wanted to try equine commercial photography but not sure how to get started?

You don’t need to wait for a brand to book you for a shoot – you can start generating commercial income through self-commissioning!

So, what is self-commissioning?

A self-commissioned shoot is the same as a model call to build your portfolio; you have full creative control and set up and take the shots you want. The aim is to produce a collection of images that you can go on to sell for commercial or editorial use.

Why self-commission?

First of all, it is a great way to dip your toe into commercial photography and build your confidence because you take the pressure off to fulfil a client brief. You can start building up your commercial portfolio and work out what you like to shoot, what you are good at shooting and start creating wonderful connections. A brand could see your commercial portfolio, fall in love with your images and want to commission you to produce the same style of images but with their products/branding.

You can be truly creative and there are no limits – it doesn’t even have to include a horse, it could just be images with a country lifestyle vibe; a saddle resting on a stable door or an owner walking across their yard with their faithful dog at their heels.

The joy of selling your images commercially is you can sell the same image over and over again – now it may be for £35 but that one image sold several times can add up over time. You can have a passive income coming into your business that runs alongside your commissioned portraits.

equine commercial photography

Our top tips for nailing a self-commission:

1. Create a brief

When self-commissioning you still need to have your ducks in a row. You need to think about the outcome for the shoot. What you will need for the shoot, do you need to source models (horses or otherwise), a location, outfits, props? Do you need a make-up artist? What are your timings? Write out all of these details and more so have a clear idea of what you want to achieve on this shoot.

2. Think commercial not portrait

It is tempting to take beautiful, tight cropped portraits like you would on a commissioned portrait shoot but these types of images don’t necessarily translate to being used commercially. When shooting make sure to leave space in your images, on the left, right, bottom or top so that if a client wants to put text or logos or product images over the image they can. Edit your images clean; remove distractions and don’t go too creative with your edits – commercial clients need the images to sing but not louder than what they are trying to sell. Pick a wardrobe and props that avoid obvious branding that would mean the image would be instantly rejected for certain commercial use (e.g don’t have a NAF branded water bucket in the shot if you want to sell the image to Science Supplements).

3. Take action

You can upload all your beautiful images to an online gallery, put it on your website and just sit back and…nothing. YOU have to reach out and pick up the phone to magazines, tack shops, brands etc to create those connections and get your images selling.

Want to learn more about self-commissioning?

Check out our recent Webinar: ‘How the Self-Commission For Commercial Photography’ on YouTube or why not learn everything there is to know about Equestrian Commercial Photography by joining us on our next Equestrian Commercial Photography Workshop. Register your interest in our next course here.