“I was wondering whether you’d like to have a photoshoot with me”, said Sophie Callahan in our very first conversation way back on the 25th November 2016 (at precisely 12.34pm, according to Twitter). Obviously I jumped at the chance (have you seen the pictures that Sophie creates?! Who would turn that opportunity down!), although we decided to postpone until the Spring because let’s face it – who’s horses look their best in the depths of winter? Fast forward almost two years and I’m so thrilled to report that it’s finally happened! Sophie came to visit a couple of weeks ago – if you’ve already watched Sophie’s weekly vlog you’ll have seen a few snippets on there, but now I have the final images I just have to share them with you.
Now, I’m fairly sure you all know Sophie so she doesn’t really need an introduction but I’m going to give you one anyway. Not only is she a specialist equine portrait photographer (and an exceptional one at that), she’s shot to Insta-fame over the last couple of years with her country lifestyle blogging and vlogging as well as the perfectly captured moments of joy between her clients and their beloved horses. She’s also an incredibly great friend of mine and joins me on the team of brand ambassadors for both Hiho Silver and Mackenzie and George (aren’t we lucky!). So knowing Sophie pretty well, it’s fair to say I was super excited about our shoot together.
Feeling the nerves
I was also incredibly nervous. Now I know many of you reading this will think ‘What, why? You take pictures of yourself all the time’. This was a completely different situation and the thought of standing in front of the camera trying to look like I’m having a good time whilst my horse is creating havoc in the background had been filling me with dread ever since we set a date for the shoot. There’s also a reason why you rarely see my face on Instagram, I absolutely hate looking into a camera. It makes me feel awkward, cringey and embarrassed all at the same time. So you can see that Sophie really had her work cut out from the start! But I have to admit, as soon as Sophie arrived I was immediately at ease and the rest of the day was a joy.
What to wear?!
I hadn’t really aired these concerns to Sophie prior to her arrival. (I thought she might run or a mile or at least look at me like many of you perhaps are after reading the above paragraph!). So a few days before Sophie was due to visit I’d checked into her client only area of the website (if you have a shoot booked I’d highly recommend reading through this as soon as you book, it is so helpful, insightful and puts all of the doubts and questions you may have firmly behind you) and I’d also read her recent blog series about what to wear for an equine photoshoot (again, I highly recommend reading this if you are thinking of organising a shoot). I then proceeded to empty the contents of my wardrobe, worried I had nothing suitable to wear (whilst buried under a mound of clothes), put everything back and made a few panic decisions shortly before Sophie arrived. My advice from the experience – don’t do this. Decide well in advance and make sure you’re happy with your choice before going anywhere near a horse!
Not only was my own wardrobe and awkward smile/grimace pose bothering me, I’d also been worrying about my darling Grey horse remaining clean for the day, particularly as one of her favourite pastimes is to roll in anything remotely muddy as soon after having a bath as possible! Throw in a few concerns on location – I live on a farm and whilst I like to think my horses are the luckiest things in the world to live in such a spectacular place, it’s not exactly a 5* luxury livery yard with not even a spec of dust in sight.
Turns out I had absolutely nothing to worry about. It also appears that many other people booking shoots with Sophie also have the same concerns and fears. Sophie is so unbelievably creative and talented that regardless of what you have to work with, you’re guarenteed a stunning picture at the end of the experience. Sophie’s eye for a brilliant picture is what sets her apart from so many other photographers out there – you’ll know what I mean if you’ve seen her Instagram (and if you haven’t, you need to get over there right now!). She picked locations and poses that I never even considered and made the whole afternoon so enjoyable I actually forgot that she had the camera in her hand. It was just like having a good old gossip with a long lost friend, which although Sophie is my friend, is exactly how I’m sure she makes everyone feel on her shoots.
So it’s fair to say after some tea and cake, even more gossiping and a quick farm tour, I was super excited for Sophie to get home and work her magic on the photo’s she took during the day – I purposely didn’t look at any previews and wanted to wait for the finished edits before looking. I can honestly say that I was completely blown away by what Sophie created. The images are absolutely stunning and have captured the bond between DD and I so perfectly that it brought a tear to my eye. The talent this incredible lady has is just something else. I can also admit (as were all friends here) that some of the photo’s were absolutely hilarious and other’s were definitely for our eyes only – DD looked great but I absolutely did not! Sophie also captured a couple of pictures of my other horses which was really unexpected and so special, particularly of my old lady Panda, who is 29 years young and the Queen of the farm. I’ve included some of my favourite images throughout the post and I think you’ll agree the pictures are beautiful (from a creative, talented perspective and definitely more of the horse, not me!).
What are you waiting for?
I can’t recommend a photoshoot with Sophie enough and if you’re still thinking ‘it’s not for me’ after reading this post (I can’t imagine why by the way!), you really should take the plunge and do it. You can be as dressed up or down as you like so the photos can be as natural or glam as what suits you. It’s also such a special way of creating something beautiful of you and your horse to treasure, because let’s face it 99.99999% of the horsey world does not look their very best when at the yard, so it’s a perfect excuse to both look great and capture that so the days where you end up face down in a puddle (thanks to your little darling), or with straw in you hair, knickers, boots <insert any body part/layer of clothing here>, you have a little something to remind you that you can look good together. It’s also a lovely gift idea – obviously it’s waaay to early to mention the big C festivities but friends/siblings/parents/partners – it would make a truly fantastic gift.
So what are you waiting for – I can promise you, you won’t regret it!
Thank you so much Sophie for coming to visit us, we can’t wait to see you again soon.