Beautiful businesses exist all around us…
Your local Artisan Baker, a creative Garden Designer, an inspirational Festival Organiser or the seller of beautiful things, there are no boundaries…
I would love to give you all an insight into the beautiful brains & businesses that I stumble across as I wander through my lovely little life…
…And who better to kick this series off with than the indisputable Queen of equestrian photography, the very lovely Sophie Callahan. A specialist equine photographer, vlogger, blogger and horse addict, Sophie documents the stories of horses and their owners, throughout the UK – how lucky is she? (I will point out that Sophie is where she is through sheer determination and hard work but you know what I mean..!)
I sent Sophie the following headings and simply asked her to jot down what they inspired her to write… no guidelines, simply her thoughts and feelings & I think the outcome is completely fabulous…
I find that inspiration comes from so many different places. I’m inspired by other photographers, other bloggers, other business owners, by horses themselves, by the love owners have for their animals, by every day life.
Originally I used to sit at my computer, when I was working as an event photographer, I would be editing images we’d taken at a football tournament or dance event, and I’d be swooning over images by the likes of Emily Hancock. And I just knew THAT was what I should be doing! That’s where my original inspiration came from, to start my business.
And as it has grown, the things that have inspired me and moulded the way I’ve done something, the images I’ve taken and the content I’ve created, are truly endless. I mean, I was inspired to write a blog post about breakfast the other day, when we went out to eat… That’s how easily inspired I am..!
The thing that motivates me the most is that I absolutely LOVE what I do. I don’t really need much encouragement to get up every day and do what I do, because there really is nothing else I’d rather be doing. My life is everything I want it to be and there is no stronger motivation to work hard than that.
I’m not really money motivated. I guess I’d say that I’m heavily motivated by people’s approval. Like when my client’s love their images, or when my audience really enjoy a blog post I’ve written. That motivates me!
I also have lots of very specific plans and goals for the future, so if I’m ever having an off day, I just think about the things I want to achieve in the next few years, whether that’s personal or career related, and that usually gets me up off of my bum!
Oooh, this is a good one! I’m pretty easily captivated by the right thing, but totally disinterested by anything else. There’s not really a middle ground with me, lol. If I don’t love it, I just can’t be bothered. But if I do love something, I tend to become totally obsessed. Both a strength and weakness when it comes to business, I think.
I love being around people who are building something and who have ambition and drive. I love hearing people’s stories and passion, seeing their potential and getting excited with them about their venture. That’s the reason I love watching vloggers that are absolutely smashing it, whatever it is they might be working towards, and I could get sucked into the world of Youtubers for hours if I’m not careful!
I’m an avid blog reader and will obsess over a new favourite blog until the early hours of the morning, when I find one that strikes a chord. And I’m a creative, so I love nothing more than to be creating! Whether that’s photographing, editing, writing… I just want to make things all the time.
I’m totally obsessed with social media, which is great in terms of online marketing, as it means that side of business comes easily and naturally to me, but not so great because when I say obsessed, I really mean it! I’m on it ALL the time and I’m constantly thinking of new content. I think it drives everybody around me a little bit mad.
And of course, horses. Sit me in a field, on a sunny evening, with a horse having a little canter around and I’m a happy girl. Not only can I photograph them for hours, I could just watch them and enjoy being in their world. They are such incredible animals and when you ask what captivates me, I feel like they embody that word, for me.
With this one, the first thing that comes to mind is that I’m super grateful I started out when I did. Right now there are new equine photographers everywhere you look, whereas I think I got in just before the ‘boom’, and I think it’s had a lot to do with my success. Right place, right time, and all of that. When I started, there were only a very select handful of photographers offering equine portrait sessions and the market was pretty much there for the taking. I can only think of one other local photographer who was doing what I do, when I started, whereas now I could probably name ten!
I think this follows on quite nicely from what I was just saying about it being a much more saturated market these days. You HAVE to work out what makes you different. Or you at least have to work out how you’re going to get people’s attention above all the noise.
I do a few things to help with this. I vlog. There’s no getting away from it, vlogging is scary to start with. I really, really didn’t want to do it. But I’d heard everybody talking about the fact that video was taking over the internet and was the best marketing tool, so I just bit the bullet. And it’s been invaluable. Potential clients can not only feel like they know me, before they’ve met me (which is important with something as nerve-wracking and intimate as photography) but they can also see behind the scenes of my shoots and get a better understanding of how the whole thing works!
The other thing which kind of goes hand in hand with vlogging, is my blog. I blog a minimum of three times a week, including a business post, a lifestyle post and a post about my shoots. These are all great for SEO, for engaging with brands, getting in front of their audiences, showcasing my work and positioning myself as a thought leader and expert in my industry.
Also, I share my clients’ stories. This has been a huge success on social media for me and I think is what leads to most of my enquiries and bookings. People love to see the story behind the images I’m sharing. It evokes emotion in them and makes them want to share their story and get involved in the online hype.
And then, lastly, obviously there’s my product. In my pinion, if you don’t have a distinctive, quality product (in my case, photographs) and a unique style, then you have nothing. At the end of the day, we can do all the clever marketing we want, but if we fall at the last hurdle, we might as well not turn up at all!
This past year has been one of transition for me and there have been a lot of learning curves. Of course, the foundation of my business is still the same and I will always prioritise my photography over everything else. But this year I’ve started really focusing on my blogging (and vlogging) as an entity of their own. I am proud to have built a social media audience of over 37k followers and I just felt like I wasn’t making the most of that asset.
I’ve now ventured into lifestyle blogging, which has been greatly received so far, and super beneficial to my business. And I have also been much more intentional about my vlogging content.
I am now not just a photographer who blogs on the side, but a photographer AND a blogger! And I’m so excited about the opportunities that are already in the pipeline as a result of this, as well as where this might lead me. I think the potential is huge!
But ultimately, as I mentioned, I absolutely love the lifestyle that this business affords me and I will continue to shape and mould it to fit my needs. At some point, we will think about having a family and it might be that I do less shoots, more blogging, for a while, but that’s why I think this is a beautiful business, because it’s whatever I want it to be!
If you would like to find out more about the beautiful soul that is Sophie Callahan Photography, here are the details you need: