Thursday, December 30, 2010

Slice of Life – Photography – will Boost your Business

Everyone know that if you have a business of any kind – you really need to have a web site – it’s almost a pre requisite for business these days.

Your web site not only helps potential clients find you, but also do a little research about your company.

If you are reading this you are well aware that people not only search on line but they also compare.

If you are offering a “service” your potential clients are not just comparing price but they are searching your web site to see if your business fits their needs.

So how do you visually persuade your web visitors to not only browse your web site longer but also ultimately pick up the phone.

According to some theorists. It is argued that we live in a constant state of tension and buy things to reduce that tension. Which is good new for Equine businesses that promote fun, fresh air and work at one with nature.

So with that in mind you can create images for your web site that solves that problem. (The tension – not the need to buy)

“The art of riding is relaxed concentration”

So when visitors stop /shop by your web site show them a “Slice of Life”

Take them visually through what a day at the barn is like; give your web visitors a “Peek behind the scenes”

As a professional photographer - this is how I would approach such a project

The facility – I would show someone either riding/ or leading a horse through the open gates into the facility (signage clearly depicted) after all that is what you want new clients to do “Come In” – closed gates are practical but not inviting.

The Owner – Again this would be a welcoming kind of shot with the owner shaking hands with a new client (showing the owner gives personal attention to her customers)

The Staff- I would prefer to photograph the staff doing their work rather than head and shoulder mug shots,

Existing clients­ – with signed model release form of course, but what better way to show and tell. Pictures of both group and private lessons.

The Horses - The horses are the candy that will attract people to your facility – The images you use should inspire the viewer to “Want to ride that horse” pictures of horses grazing in a field evokes a very different emotional response from a horse jumping or galloping freestyle.

The Disciplines - What style of riding do you offer?

Who do you cater to - beginners / advanced / hobby riders or potential show riders. Maybe all four but obviously not within the same group lesson – so you need to visually appeal to each group so that they can identify with your business and see that they would fit in. (everyone has the basic need to be accepted)

The personality of the Business – this is probably the hardest image to create especially if you own the business very often other see us very differently that we see ourselves and this is also true of businesses.

Its in the details – every wedding photographer knows, he has to take pictures of the rings / cake. Flowers, we can learn from their attention to detail. I would take tack room shots, kids grooming, all the barn animals cats or dogs etc. maybe there is a special place the grooms go to eat lunch -

Good Photographer’s see the world differently and capture the extraordinary in the ordinary a gift most people leave behind with childhood.

This article is geared towards Equine businesses but the same principles would apply to most services.

To learn more about slice of life photography and how it can work for your business please e-mail Linda Finstad

Or visit her web site

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Human body language v Equine body language

Have you ever wondered why such a big strong animal like a horse would allow us puny humans to ride and dominate them.

Now don’t give yourself airs it has nothing to do with your superior horsemanship or equine experience.

It all boils down to Prey v Preditor

Horses and humans are very different, in their perception of the world, they relate to it in different ways. For horses and humans to communicate, there has to first be an understanding of translating the horse's perception of what our different body signals mean to them.

Horses are prey animals. They are built as prey animals, with eyes set on the sides of their head, which means they cannot see anything in front of their noses. When watching horses interacting together, you'll notice that horses only move in straight lines when they are being aggressive.

Like when chasing another horse away from food.

Horses show that they are prey and not a predator, by moving in a 'wandering' way. This allows them to see what might be lurking nearby, and signals that they are harmless to the other animals around them.

Humans, on the other hand, have their eyes on the front of their heads. We generally move in straight lines, looking directly towards where we're going.

This behavior marks humans as predators.

To a horse, our natural way of moving tells them that we are dangerous, or aggressive, at best.

Due to this prey-to-predator relationship, body language has to be adjusted when working with young or frightened horses. It can also be a tool in training any horse. Straight lines and eye contact mean that you are asking the horse to move away, while curving lines and looking around, not directly at the animal, tells them that you want to approach and that you will not attack them.

Making eye contact and backing up can communicate to the horse that you want them to approach.

Horses communicate with their body language, they excel at picking up signals that do not seem obvious to us, and will behave towards human body language as they would in their own herd. A great way to learn about horses' body language is to watch them as they interact with each other.

An aggressive horse will pin back their ears and move directly towards another animal they want to frighten, while a young foal will relax their bodies and open and shut their mouths in a chewing motion, showing that they are no threat.

To show a horse that a human is harmless, the handler must relax their body, move in a wandering pattern, rather than in straight lines, and be aware of making eye-contact.

A confident, calm, handler, creates a calm, obedient, horse.

As humans study the natural interaction that horses have with each other, they can learn about a horse's psychology, and create better human and equine relationships.

Linda Finstad -

Friday, December 17, 2010

To Blog or not to Blog that is the question and Who Reads Blogs anyway?????????

I bought into the advice of all the marketing guru’s that you must have a blog. So over the past year I have been tapping the keyboard with my thoughts and life views.

My rantings covered a variety of topics such as “Why I would rather be a dog than a wife” and “How to get your Mojo going”.

But I never really thought anyone read them because after hitting the “publish post” button that was that.

On occasion I have thought this is just a waste of time but it can be kind of therapeutic to put your thoughts into words - much like keeping a secret journal. But allowing the whole world to discover its hiding place under the bed and read it.

So who reads Blogs anyway? And Why read the life updates and views (even ravings!) of an individual when there is so much else to read on the net?

Because we’re human, and we like to know what other people think and feel. We also like to know what they know, especially if it can benefit us in some way.

Blogs often have a ‘real’ factor, which is missing from other kinds of editorial.

When readers are ready, the blogs will still be there. And that's the power of on-line content.

I started searching the internet for some stats on how many blogs there are and average readership - But there were oodles of blogs on the subject and I couldn’t be bothered reading them all

But here are my very condensed findings

There are billions of blogs

Most are created and abandoned within the first 2 months

But there is no concluding evidence for readership

So to blog or not to blog - you decide

But I am sure you will have some great insights that would enlighten the world so you would really be helping humanity by Blogging

I just wish it had a better name

Thursday, December 16, 2010

How to get more out of Life

How to get more out of Life

I have been on a personal quest - searching the greatest minds on the internet to find an answer to my question.

Here are some of the words of wisdom I came across

Try it as a 21 day trial
Some of us might get overwhelmed with cultivating a new habit because it's something we need to do for life. What if you just need to do this habit for the next 21 days? Suddenly it doesn't seem so challenging. Most of you will think: "21 days, hey I can do that". Whether its diet , excersise, blogging or whatever

Road to Somewhere

If you feel you are going nowhere, perhaps it is because you've never tried to go anywhere in particular. If you've just done what everyone else does, you'll end up where everyone else does - dead bored, or maybe just dead! You need to have a dream - an idea of where you want to go to.

One day at a Time

A goal for a single day is enough, to start with - something minor. Also, let's not make work for ourselves. Many of us are overworked. I don't want anyone to add another chore to their burden! Keep it light, keep it small, keep it manageable. We don't have to solve world hunger, or make contact with beings from another planet, not today anyway.

Find your passion. Similar to the above tip, this one asks you to find your calling. Make your living by doing the thing you love to do. First, think about what you really love to do. There may be many things. Find out how you can make a living doing it. It may be difficult, but you only live once.

Turn off the TV. How many hours will we waste away in front of the boob tube? How many hours do we have to live? Do the math, then unplug the TV. Only plug it back in when you have a DVD of a movie you love. Otherwise, keep it off and find other stuff to do. Don't know what to do? Read further.

Take chances. We often live our lives too cautiously, worried about what might go wrong. Be bold, risk it all. Quit your job and go to business for yourself (plan it out first!), or go up to that girl you've liked for a long time and ask her out. What do you have to lose?

Savor food. Don't just eat your food, but really enjoy it. Feel the texture, the bursts of flavors. Savor every bite. If you limit your intake of sweets, it will make the small treats you give yourself (berries or dark chocolate are my favorites) even more enjoyable. And when you do have them, really, really savor them. Slowly.

· Love. Perhaps the most important. Fall in love, if you aren't already. If you have, fall in love with your partner all over again. Abandon caution and let your heart be broken. Or love family members, friends, anyone -- it doesn't have to be romantic love. Love all of humanity, one person at a time.

Be positive. Learn to recognize the negative thoughts you have. These are the self-doubts, the criticisms of others, the complaints, the reasons you can't do something. Then stop yourself when you have these thoughts, and replace them with positive thoughts. Solutions. You can do this!

Face your fears. What are you most afraid of? What is holding you back? Whatever it is, recognize it, and face it. Do what you are most afraid of. Afraid of heights? Go to the tallest building, and look down over the edge. Only by facing our fears can we be free of them.

When you suffer, suffer. Life isn't all about fun and games. Suffering is an inevitable part of life. We lose our jobs. We lose our lovers. We lose our pets. We get physically injured or sick. A loved one becomes sick. A parent dies. Learn to feel the pain intensely, and really grieve. This is a part of life -- really feel the pain. And when you're done, move on, and find joy.

Slow down. Life moves along at such a rapid pace these days. It's not healthy, and it's not conducive to living. Practice doing everything slowly -- everything, from eating to walking to driving to working to reading. Enjoy what you do. Learn to move at a snail's pace.

Touch humanity. Get out of your house and manicured neighborhoods, and find those who live in worse conditions. Meet them, talk to them, understand them. Live among them. Be one of them. Give up your materialistic lifestyle.

Volunteer. Help at homeless soup kitchens. Learn compassion, and learn to help ease the suffering of others. Help the sick, those with disabilities, those who are dying.

Find spirituality. For some, this means finding God or Jesus . For others, this means becoming in tune with the spirits of our ancestors, or with nature. For still others, this just means an inner energy. Whatever spirituality means for you, rediscover it, and its power.

Take mini-retirements. Don't leave the joy of retirement until you are too old to enjoy it. Do it now, while you're young. It makes working that much more worth it. Find ways to take a year off every few years. Save up, sell your home, your possessions, and travel. Live simply, but live, without having to work. Enjoy life, then go back to work and save up enough money to do it again in a couple of years.

Try something new, every week. Ask yourself: "What new thing shall I try this week?" Then be sure to do it. You don't have to learn a new language in one week, but seek new experiences. Give it a try. You might decide you want to keep it in your life.

Be in the moment. Instead of thinking about things you need to do, or things that have happened to you, or worrying or planning or regretting, think about what you are doing, right now. What is around you? What smells and sounds and sights and feelings are you experiencing? Learn to do this as much as possible through meditation, but also through bringing your focus back to the present as much as you can in everything you do.

This is by no means an exhaustive list but it is a great start for an exciting new tomorrow

Monday, December 6, 2010

Should I put "MY PICTURE" on my Biz Card

Who’s picture is on your Biz Card

Odd’s are you do – Even in this technologically advanced age The “Old Fashioned” business card is still the most effective way to pass on your information to people you meet. Even my teenage daughter has business cards to promote her baby sitting services.

But if “Everyone” has them and “Everyone” is handing them out to promote their business or service.

How do you make your biz card memorable?

The answer is easy - put your picture on the front.

Memory Retention:
When we remember a person, it is usually by face and by name. We maybe attach a descriptive word to them to help us remember like “Angie the blonde”, or Mr. wilson the bald guy.

Face/Head and the Name are the key factors. If you put your face and name in your color business card, this creates an environment where a person can remember you more easily. This kind of memory retention is absolutely crucial. If people remember you by name and face, you will have a higher chance of getting that business opportunity.

Facial and Name Recognition:
Facial and name recognition, are very closely connected. If someone sees your name, they will have a picture of your face in their mind. If someone sees your face, your name will not be far off. If your business card has a face, then this will help your contacts recognize you after they have seen your business card. You may be passing them on the street or at a show and your face will be connected to your business card

But best of all people will start to recognize you and feel like they know you - and people much prefer to do business with someone they know and trust.

Marketing your image:
Besides recognition and retention, having a face on your full color business card also promotes the marketing of your own image. Having your face in a business card, with you looking all formal and professional, should basically sell your "public image". A picture that is presentable with you looking competent, determined and approachable can really go well with people’s opinions about you. If they "like your look" then there is a big chance that they will do business with you. First impressions, even from color business cards will usually last.

So when you invest in new business cards, don’t forget to include your picture in the design.

Sure a logo is good but people like to deal with people

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Day in the Life of a Show Photographer

A Day in the Life of a Horse Show Photographer
I wanted to share this little glimpse into my life as Official show photographer because many people who have attended my Equine Photography Workshops have aspirations of one day following my career path. And becoming a full time Equine Photographer.
A way of life I can wholeheartedly recommend if you love to work outdoors with horses and their people.
I am also planning a competition in which you can enter to win a day with me
And Be a “Show Photographer for the Day”
OK the day starts bright and early -
• We arrive around half an hour before the show starts to check in with the show secretary and get the “Day sheets” these tell us what is going on in each ring and at what times. They will also indicate whether there will be a break for lunch (very important)
• Set up a display table - with samples of work and information
• Next - eat a hearty breakfast – this might be the only meal you get, and take a large coffee to go (make sure you have a wide bottomed travel mug that wont tip over on grass) The condition of the available bathrooms will determine how many times you refill your coffee.
• Apply liberal amounts of sun screen and bug spray – and don a wide brimmed hat. The hat is very useful to throw in the air to attract a horses attention, just be careful not to spook the horse - or you might be taking pictures of the North end of a South bound animal.
• OK now you have to decide where to start - My objective is to photograph everybody doing something spectacular. This decision is not as hard as it seems as the set up of the rings and the direction of the sun will pretty much determine where you can start.
• Introduce your self to the judge in each ring and establish the guide lines as to where they will allow you to shoot from. We do not want to be a distraction to either the judges or the riders.
• Now we are in place at the side of the ring time to do a few equipment checks and exposure readings to determine what camera settings will work best for the day ( each day is different and the lighting conditions change throughout the day) especially in Alberta it can start out sunny and end up snowing . All of which you have to adjust for to ensure you capture all the action.
• OK its show time
• At jumping shows I will very often walk the course to establish which jumps are going to be my target jumps and also to learn which direction the riders will be heading once they land.
• For the next 8 – 10 hours I watch – aim and click
• Then there are the special awards and Championship photos – these are very important and great care must be taken to pose both the horse and sponsors in a flattering way.
• And the show is over for the day so I pack up my display and head off home
• However my work is far from over now I have to download all the images usually around 1400 from an average show ( more if it’s a dressage event)
• Then I start the process of editing and preparing them for viewing on my web site for sale
Its not a very glamerous job I am on my feet all day and very often running from ring to ring. Or sometimes to get “The Shot” I am sitting in the muck ( this is very often the case at the Rodeo).
However the thrill of capturing all the action and being an integral part of the Show is extremely rewarding . I personally couldn’t think of any other way I would rather spend my days.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Rejuvonate your passion for photography with an exciting project

There’s nothing like a new photo project to either jumpstart your photo career or to help you learn how to improve. Projects keep you shooting with purpose, and help you avoid slipping into a malaise.
Here are five steps to developing a good photographic project. Oh, and I’m also throwing in some project ideas to get you down the road.
Five Steps
1. Focus, Focus, Focus
I am not talking autofocus, I am talking clear and concise goals. Shoot tight. Stay on task. Don’t be sidetracked by every pretty thing. Keep your project tightly defined and focused.
2. KISS – Keep it Simple Stupid
Don’t over think this. Don’t make it unnecessarily hard. Do just the opposite. Keep it simple. Make it as easy as can be. If you accomplish number one on this list, number two comes easier.
3. Good Projects Are as Much About Exclusion as Inclusion
Knowing what you want to shoot is important. But LIMITING what you shoot is more important. Exclude as much as you can during your project. Only include the bare minimum you need to tell your photographic story. Try to make sure that every picture has no more than one single focal point and no more than two supporting focal points.
4. Look at Current Magazines
Look at the current trends in magazines and then use these to influence your project. Award yourself a self-assignment based on what you see. Then convert it to match your own style and vision, and go shoot.
5. Shoot Every Day
Shooting every day forces you to really get to know your gear and your subject matter. Letting too much time pass between shoots for your project can tempt you to go off track. Stay focused and shoot every day.
Project Ideas
a. Signs
b. Shapes
c. Colors
d. Strangers
e. Juxtaposition

Friday, November 5, 2010

Words of Wisdom

If only I knew then what I knew now!
At the risk of sounding like my mother, and dear God realizing maybe she did know a thing or two. The sentiment, If only I knew then what I knew now really resonates with me.
Whilst pondering this, I wondered
What advice would I give the “16 year old me” – if I could go back in time?
I also posed this question to some of my friends and here are their
Words of Wisdom
HorseFeathers EquestrianApparel; Listen to the people that love you the most they have been there done that.
Rochelle Worden; Brush and floss 2 times every day
Jamie DeHart; Don't be in such a hurry to grow up. Don't be afraid to act goofy. Don't be afraid to say no to anything. You can always change your mind later. Talk to as many people as you can about their life, their jobs.
Shelane Chaddick Rierson; Pay attention to the people that count and dont stress about the rest! And never listen to anyone that tell you "you cant".
Kelly Rand; Dont rush into having chldren, even though most of your friend in the next cuple of years most likely are ... (i love my two girls to bit, but waiting a few more years to have them wouldn't of hurt, because at the age of 21 i don't have much of a socail life and will have to wait til there older, for me to do some of the 'teenage 18/19' things your ment to do, have fun, live life, pass your driving test, get a good job, see the world, find the love of your life get a nice house and then have kids
Julie Golden Stables You can do or be anything you want. Live up to your own expectations and try to impress no-one but yourself.
Rachael Fiore-Peck; Always stay true to yourself!!
Tracey Bavinton; Take opportunities that are presented to you. Don't second guess decisions you know in your heart to be right
Victoria Nargiel; Love and respect your parents!! They really do know what they're talking about. And don't try and grow up so fast! You'll really come to miss your teenage years if you don't cherish them. And one last bit of advice.. Stay away from drugs, cigarettes and alcohol! No matter how 'fun' it may seem, its not worth it at all!
Trixi Frederick; Do not let fear or other people stop you from trying, have faith and believe in yourself, strive to be the best you can be and for heavens sake...don't allow yourself to become the "victim" of all things gone wrong!! Xoxo
Victoria Nargiel; Oh and stay in school! You'll regret it if you don't!
My words of advice would be - Just because you have never done something before - doesnt mean you cant do it, and a realization that came to me many years after my 16th birthday - God has more Faith in me than I have in myself, and has always provided the tools, people, resources to handle whatever life threw my way.

But the real question is would the 16 year old me have listened?
Probably not - after all at 16 you officially know it all

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Top Photo Locations in Edmonton

Top Photo Locations in Edmonton

One question I get asked quite often is, "Where should we go for our portraits?" To help with planning your outdoor portraits or family photo session, here are a few suggested photo locations from Edmonton and area, including both indoor and outdoor spots for great pictures. Of course this is by no means an exhaustive list, but it is a great place to start! If you have other suggestions please let me know
My personal favorite photo back drop is the Whitemud Park
There are some great locations - interesting trails, bridges and access to the river front - the going is sometimes a little uneven so wear comfortable shoes.
Great opportunities whatever the season
Alberta Legislature
(Outdoors open free to the public; indoor photographs are not permitted.)

The Alberta Legislature grounds is one of the most popular - and populated - parks in the city. With amazing variety of mature trees, beautiful architecture and plentiful flowers there are abundant photo opportunities here. There are often other weddings on the grounds as well as tourists, but there is so much space this rarely creates a problem.
Some of these location charge a fee, for formal photo shoots like weddings so please check out their appropriate web sites to see their rules and regulations regarding formal photo shoots
Royal Alberta Museum & Government House
Contact: Administration at (780) 453-9100

The Museum grounds and the Government House are very popular for wedding photos. An excellent blend of landscaping and architecture provide lots of visual variety within a relatively small area. This is a public park, so there is no charge to use the grounds or building exteriors for portraits.
Citadel Theatre
Contact: Administration at (780) 426-4811

The Citadel theatre has a large indoor garden featuring an upstairs lake and a waterfall wall. An atrium upstairs may be rented for indoor ceremonies. Daytime sessions are best as most of the interior light comes from their large windows.
Edmonton City Hall
Booking Clerk: (780) 944-7740

City Hall is a beautifully designed building with a selection of railings, pillars, staircases and smaller features which keep portrait backgrounds interesting. A high-key (light) colour scheme dominates most of the interior. Most days the interior is fairly quiet although on a nice summer day the fountains outside do attract waders.
Devonian Botanic Gardens
Contact: Bookings at (780) 987-2496

Although this is an outdoor-only location - and a bit of a drive too - the Devonian Gardens provides almost unparalleled beauty and variety. The Japanese Garden is the most popular section, featuring a waterfall, bridge, lake (with stepping stones), walkways, and varied foliage for a wonderful variety of beautiful photo locations.
Fort Edmonton Park
Photos site -
Contact: Phone: (780) 496-8787

For a stunning historical look to your portraits Fort Edmonton offers an amazing variety of beautiful locations. The river valley setting and the many different faces of this facility add a unique character to your portraits. Some churches and buildings on the grounds can be booked to add character to your ceremony or reception.
John Janzen Nature Center
Phone: (780) 496-2925
Located right next to Fort Edmonton Park, the Nature Center offers a varied natural parkland for beautiful photo opportunities. A bridge leading over a small pond leads into a system of nature trails which are great places to spend some time exploring - and taking pictures!
Muttart Conservatory
Contact: Bookings at (780) 442-5311 or
Cost: see details on website
Beautiful any time of year, the Muttart Conservatory contains four indoor gardens of differing style. Lots of flowers, indoor waterways and bridges, and paths through the greenery make for excellent photographs. You may book this location for your portraits or your entire ceremony and reception, but call early as it is popular and books up fast.
I have used the grounds for family photos and pet portraits
Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village
Guided Tour
Contact: (780) 662-3640 or email

Very few locations in the Edmonton area bring out the sense of history and beauty that you will find at the Ukranian Village. Just 20 minutes from Edmonton city limits, the trip is very reasonable and the results are worth it. Beautiful historic churches to host your wedding ceremony, unique photo opportunities and a rich historical character to the park all make for an enjoyable visit.
Outdoor Locations that are also lots of fun
Here's a brief list of alternative ideas you may wish to consider!
- Alberta Railway Museum -
- Celtic Hall -
- Windship Aviation (Hot Air Balloons) -
- Edmonton Valley Zoo -
- Ukranian Cultural Heritage Village -
- Edmonton Queen Riverboat -
- John Walter Museum -
- Edmonton Aviation Museum -
Corn maze - is a seasonal location but offers lots of unique opportunities
City Golf courses – please contact each one individually to get permission and enquire about their booking and fee structure .
City Parks - there are oodles of parks throughout Edmonton usually one in each small community
Lets use Edmonton as the perfect photo back drop
for photo packages and pricing

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

New Year in November

New Year In November

Ok – I know I am early and some would say I missed the fun Christmas season and am going straight to the
Gut churning life changing decisions we all make on Jan 1st
Yes its only 60 days till “New Years Resolution” time
So I say to make this a whole lot easier lets do it in November.
I am not talking about the lose 10 - 20 - 100 pounds before summer kind of resolution.
I am thinking in terms of what direction you want your life or business to go in 2011
So you see the long cold November nights are a perfect time to start making plans for next year.
I like to do a post mortem (evaluations) on my last year
I look at all the various work and promotional activities and really examine
What worked and what could have gone better – There are no failures - just opportunities to learn and do better next time.
You will be surprised at what new ideas and opportunities present them selves from this simple - paper and pen (glass of wine optional) excersise.
Once you have identified areas of your life/ business that need change it is easy to start planning how, Come January you can make those changes.
Personally – I want to teach more equine photography and marketing courses - I would like to travel to warmer places to do this during Alberta’s long cold winter.
SO now I have a goal it is easy to figure out the steps to make it a reality.
1. Find equine associations/ clubs in Arizona, Texas, New Mexico to partner with.
2. Set a date for the workshop
3. Create support marketing materials for new partners
4. Get on a plane / taxi / teach the class

Details of my “Equine photography workshop” is on line at
The beauty of New Year in November is there is no need to take physical action now after all we have 60 days in which to create a workable plan. Removing all the stress and panic of “Oh my God – Next Year has to be better”
So please join me for “New Year in November”

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tips for Photographing Horses

My name is Linda Finstad and I think I have the best job in the world.
I am a full time equine photographer - I spend my days capturing the natural beauty and elegance of Horses. Equine photography is more than a job it is also my passion and one, which I love to share with others. I offer Equine Photography workshops where photographers of all ages and skill levels can learn how to take amazing shots of their favorite animals.
I've picked up a few tricks for equine photography over the years. It's a deep subject that would take a full-fledged book to present thoroughly, but I will try to offer a few tips that will help you avoid the worst mistakes.
Because horses are so large, it is necessary to get back at least 15 or 20 feet to prevent distortion, and a camera with a telephoto lens is a great help. Otherwise, keep your distance, and enlarge the prints if necessary. If you get too close, and say it's a head-on shot, the animal’s nose and face will be huge, and the rest of the body will appear quite small.

Natural Framing
Unless you are taking a registration photograph try to avoid standing your horse up against a plain barn wall
Instead look for places around the yard that will create a natural frame - like an overhanging tree or position your horse in a gate way even long grass can be used to frame and add interest to your pictures.
Pictures of horses in bright yellow canola fields always look stunning –
Be sure to ask permission from the farmer first.

Time of Day
I often get asked what time of day is best for equine photography
My simple answer is anytime that the sun is shining.
Sunshine adds contour and texture to a horses coat and muscles giving your final picture a three dimensional appearance. In harsh sunlight’s a black horse will gleam and look stunning.
Dull overcast skies produce dull flat pictures and your black horse will just look like a blob on the page with no definition to his form.
There is also something know to photographers as the “Golden Hour” this is the time just before sunset - not necessarily an hour, this very special lighting might only last for 10 to 15 minutes, just as the sun goes down your photographs will take on a beautiful golden glow. This is especially beautiful in the Fall as the autumn tones in the leaves will be enhanced.

Best Angle
On all shots, either have your camera level to or slightly lower than the horse (you may have to kneel down.) Do NOT take pictures where the animal is on lower ground than you are. It makes his legs look short, and his back will not look good! It's just an unattractive view.
Make sure your horse is standing on level ground and not with his front feet in a dip, as this will affect his top line. If you have to make a choice on uneven ground, always place your horse so he is standing up hill rather than down hill - he will look taller and more imposing.

Action Shots
To capture crisp sharp photographs of moving horses you need to have a fast shutter speed and lots of light.
Trying to capture action shots in an indoor arena is notoriously hard (even for the Pro’s) as there usually is just not enough light to allow your camera to obtain a fast enough
Shutter speed.
It takes a little bit of pre planning, to give your self the best chance of capturing the action. You need to make sure you are in the right place and anticipate the right time to click the shutter.
Fortunately for the photographer, most people don’t go over a jump just one time, if you hang out in the warm up area you will see trainers with their students practicing over the same fence several times. Giving you plenty of chances to get “The shot”
This is also true of most equestrian sports – there is always a pre competition warm up time. This is the place for budding equine photographers to hone their skills.
Here is a great tip!
If you are unsure where the best place around the arena is to take your shot from - go and stand near the Show Photographer – She knows all the best angles.
A word of caution - Please stay safe and don’t get in anyone’s way the collecting area can be a dangerous place.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Equine Photography workshops

2010 saw the launch of "Equine Photography Workshops" these were tons of fun and everyone who attended learnt special insider tips from Pro photographer Linda Finstad.
* How to pose both horse and rider fro beautiful portraits
* Composition and natural styling
* How to time the "Jump shot" perfectly every time
* They even discovered hot to "See the light"

Linda revealed all her down and dirty tricks of the trade to budding horse photographer of all ages and skill levels.

There will be lots more opportunities to learn from Linda at upcoming workshops in 2011

Plus Linda is currently working on a new workshop - that will take you step by step
"How to turn your passion for photography into a profitable business"
Dates and Locations will be posted on her web site

If you would like to host a workshop in your area please contact Linda for an info pack

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

10 Ways to boost your Mojo
OK so what is your mojo – well my understanding is that “it is your internal energy, enthusiasm, power and inspiration that gets you moving joyfully in whatever direction you desire” Mojo is like the fuel you need to fulfill your goals and dreams
If you feel that your Mojo is more like a Nojo try these simple tricks to get it back in full gear.
1. Embrace the Peter Pan in you - think more like a child – they only see the possibilities not the danger. I really like a quote from Peter Pan “to live will be an awfully big adventure”
2. Be good to yourself, I am sure you know how to make “To Do Lists” well make a Self care list and write down all the things that would make you feel healthy. Like regular walks, fresh air , time to sit and enjoy your food not eating on the run. If it helps pretend you are writing it for someone else.
3. Defrag your mind – just like your computer your mind gets overwhelmed with all the things it has to process, so carve out 15 mins a day to meditate or pray.
4. Learn to live in the moment – let go of past and don’t fret over the future but truly live in the here and now. This is a very special gift I have got from photography - after all it’s all about catching the moment.
5. Live in an attitude of Gratitude – if you face each day from a perspective of gratitude then you will never have that familiar feeling of running on empty.
6. Mojo Stealer, learn to recognize people or situations that drag you down and avoid both – believe me you won’t miss them.
7. Look for the miracles in everyday life – it might be that just getting out of bed in a morning is somewhat of a miracle for you - if that is the case give thanks.
8. Kill stress – my easy solution to this problem is to call it what it really is! Instead of saying to yourself I am stressed say “I am overloaded” then itemize all the things that make you feel overloaded and either remove those responsibilities or delegate until you start to feel life is good.
9. Recognize time stealers – and get rid of them – for me it is my crazy obsession with farm-ville – for you it might be TV shows, or crossword puzzles. Recognizing where the problem lies is half the battle.
10. Eat chocolate – it makes all the cells in your tummy sing Halle Lulea – and just knowing that scientifically (unproven) theory makes my Mojo go

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Top 10 Reasons to Hire - A Sharper Image - Photography

Top 10 reasons you should hire a Professional Photographer
Well these are really good reasons why you should hire A Sharper Image actually

Whilst reading a marketing book recently, it posed a question that I felt worth spending a little time pondering.
The author suggested you put yourself in your client’s shoes and ask
Why should I hire you?
He was really trying invoking advertising copy and creating a unique selling proposition. But I thought that question warranted some serious thought.
So here are my top ten reasons to hire A Sharper Image - Photography
1. Top-of-the-line Equipment – My camera is worth more than my car, and I have a whole slew of lenses. Along with all the “Must have” pro accessories
2. Expert Eye – As a professional photographer I anticipates all the possible moments in an event. And know how to capture these moments and immortalize them in a single, cleverly angled shot.
3. Coaxing a Shot – I know it’s hard to believe but sometimes I have to deal with uncooperative subjects. This takes experience and patience to coax a shot.
4. Lighting Techniques – Another reason why you should hire a professional photographer is I know how to deal with different lighting conditions. I can gauge what kind of equipment is needed if the present natural lighting conditions are unsatisfactory and recognize what kind of light will make a photograph pop.
5. Focused Concentration – Hey as a professional photographer is hired to do one thing and one thing only, he or she will have the concentration that is needed to capture special moments in an event.
6. Education – I have formal photographic education plus attend workshops to continually upgrade my skills. Unlike the amateur who has barely skimmed the instruction manual.
7. Proper Etiquette – Years of experience has developed the proper way of acting in an event. I can document the event without being conspicuous.
8. Objectivity – During an event, there are a lot of emotions going on and if you hire a friend or relative, chances are, they will be too involved in the event to take excellent shots. A professional photographer who is outside an event can give this necessary objectivity.
9. Dealing with Other Professionals – The professional photographer will be able to coordinate with other professionals, such as a Judges or videographer or event officials, to make sure that every important shot is taken without getting in the way of other professionals.
10. Standards of Quality – I am totally committed to producing high quality photographs. After all that is my business.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Wild Horses Of Alberta

I had heard all kinds of stories about the “Wild Horses of Alberta” some people said they were farel horses meaning horses that had either escaped or been turned loose and allowed to roam and breed free.
Other people told me the number of supposedly wild horses was proportionate to the price of hay – meaning when times were tough and hay at premium prices people were guilty of just setting their horses free to fend for themselves and hopefully be accepted into the herds of wild horses.
Others claimed these wild horses were brought to Alberta by the first nations people long before the land was settled by white folks. The first record of large herds of wild horses roaming in the Sundre area was in mcDougals journals written in the 1800’s
So I was very keen to go and see for myself.
There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that there are free roaming horses in the foothills – this is a fact.
Bob and Doreen Henderson head up WHOAS - the wild horses of Alberta society and they are active in trying to protect these horses. They very kindly offered to take me out to see them.
I met the Hendersons in Olds and they took me and all my camera gear in their all terrain vehicle on out quest to find the horses.
Bob told me there were about 300 head but they live in small family groups made up of one stallion and his mares along with the youngsters. He explained the bachelor males who hadn’t yet managed to secure and females for themselves also live in small groups this is for both company and safety. Bears and wolves are their natural preditors in these parts.
I ask Bob about the farel horse theory and he said some horses do get tuned loose out here but most of them don’t survive the winter, domestic horses that are used to being fed good quality feed and fresh water really suffer. The streams are frozen all winter and there is no grass – only the hardiest of horses can not only survive but thrive and breed in these conditions.
We traveled about an hour and a half west of Olds and turned of the main road onto the logging roads, I was extremely thankfull that Bob was both driving and knew where he was going because everywhere looked the same - snow and trees - it would be very easy to get lost up here.
As we were driving Bob told me to look for both horse poop and fresh tracks as this would be our clues to finding these elusive horses.
We spotted several white tailed deer but after driving around for about an hour we still hadn’t seen any horses, then Bob stopped the vehicle and told everyone to get out quietly. He had spotted what looked like horses in a clearing. So I grabbed my camera and followed quietly behind Bob eventually we cane upon a family group of horses. The stallion was a very flashy chestnut with white stockings and large white blaze on his nose. He had 11 mares and youngsters in his group.
He was very aware of where we were and patrolled around his mares snorting and pawing the ground in warning for us not to get too close.
I was thrilled to watch the group interact and forage for food, and got some great shots.
Back in the vehicle Bob asked me if I still thought they were farel horses and I had to readily admit they were all of a very definite type.
They were all stocky horses around 14 hh , they had good bone and feathered fetlocks. They had rather large heads with characteristic roman noses, along with thick full manes and tails. These horses were not like any other breed I had encountered in Alberta.
Even though we are nearing the end of winter and you would expect to find horses living free - looking poor and malnourished - that is certainly not the case all the horses looked well and fat, their coats were thick but shiny. Some of the mares looked like they were in foal and even the young stock appeared to be in good health.
After watching us for a little while “Socks”decided to take his girls to a less populated place and he herded his family off into the dense trees. Bob explained they are not only very elusive they are extremely skittish and at the first sign of someone encroaching in their space they take flight.
So we set off to see if we could find more family groups.
We had a very successful trip and throughout the course of the came across 5 groups of horses ranging in size from 5 to 13 and all these horse had the same body type and were around 14 hh.
I am sure that without the help of Bob and Doreen to locate and track the horses I would have never found them.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Why I would rather be a HORSE than a Wife

Today’s blog is just for fun, but to be honest it really got me thinking.

Here are my Top Ten (and there are lots more) reasons why I would rather be a horse.

1. When you speak (neigh) people listen, and rush over to see what you might need – not so much when you are the wife

2. All your meals are brought to you including any special vitamins or minerals you might need.

3. Someone else cleans up after you allowing your nails (hooves) grow nicely.

4. Which means, “New Shoes” every 6 weeks – yea I love new shoes

5. You only work about an hour per day and always get time off if you are sick. No one expects you to just carry on.

6. Naps and early nights seem pretty standard practice. Not the exception

7. You not only get to smell the roses you sometimes get to eat them

8. Having your own personal trainer and style consultant is not just for the rich and famous it seems to me most horses have one. I just have a very critical 16 year old.

9. Even if you have a foal - someone else takes care of it for you – and worries about shots, doctors appointments, special diet etc.

10. Horses do get to “Retire” and just hang out with their buddies. Regardless of what happens to the economy or their stock.

The biggest reason and perhaps the greatest lesson they can teach us is the ability to “Just be what God created you to be”

Monday, January 25, 2010

Dressage is Poetry in Motion

Sharon Merkel Beattie
Canadian Dressage Candidate for 2012 Olympics – UK
I was so excited to hear that Sharon had been listed as a possible candidate for the 2012 Olympics, and wanted to support her in her journey. So I offered to be her “Official Photographer” and provide her with not only a record of her journey in picture form but also commercial images she could use in her Olympic campaign.
I had photographed Sharon many times as “Show Photographer” at various dressage events across Alberta but this would be special and I would be capturing not only all the action in the dressage arena but also some behind the scenes shots allowing a personal glimpse into what it takes to become an Olympic rider.
My first appointment was at a fundraiser event at Whitemud Equine Centre. Sharon and her beautiful chestnut Hanovarian mare Essence of Glory were to perform a freestyle dressage demonstration to music, with an opportunity to meet Sharon afterwards and ask her questions. It was a very cold Snowy day in January and despite the cold temperatures there was a fabulous turn out so see Sharon ride. Before she and Esa travel to California and prepare for the World Equestrian Games.
Hopefully the next selection if images will be in the sunshine - not snow

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Who is Linda Finstad - Anyway?

Allow me introduce myself.

My name is Linda Finstad, I grew up in small rural community in England. Where it was normal for kids to learn to ride a horse before they rode a 2 wheel bicycle and I got my first pony on my fourth Birthday.
My childhood revolved around horse shows and pony club - what I took for granted back then, in hindsight was obviously a very privileged upbringing.
As my mother bought me very nice show ponies and hunters that were fit to
win at county level.
Horses were my life and it only seemed natural to work in the industry so I studied at Wrae Green Equestrian Centre for my BHSAI - once qualified I taught riding there for a couple of years before moving on to open a saddlery store. And once again I was back at the horse shows with a trade stand selling tack and country clothing.

I came to Canada about 14 years ago and for a while felt quite lost I didn’t know where the shows were held or how to get involved in the horse industry.
So in an attempt to re-invent myself I went back to school to learn photography this was a very challenging but rewarding process but it was only when the teacher asked the class “What do you really want to take pictures of” that it struck me Horses and Dogs of course. With all my experience not only in the show ring but also as a trainer I have an extremely good eye when it comes horses. This coupled with my formal photography training makes capturing fabulous shots so much easier.
I feel I my life has come full circle, and feel extremely privileged to be the official photographer at many horse shows and dog agility events throughout Alberta.
I really do have the best job in the world as I get to photograph some amazing animals and very talented handlers, horsemen and women.

In 2008 I was given the biggest commission of my entire career
The “Equine Heritage Exhibit” a photographic study of all the breeds of horses that make up the equine population of Alberta. Once this two year project is completed it will be housed in the Provincial Archive museum. Providing a snapshot in time of what “All” the breeds not only look like but also what they are used for. A fabulous resource for future generations.

I am truly blessed to spend my days capturing the beauty of Horses.
www.imagineitsold is where you can see my work

Friday, January 22, 2010

Live life like you nail polish color

Live life like you nail polish color
Wild berry is the name of my favorite nail color polish, to me is says - bold, exotic, bodacious, and it simply makes my nails look good.
Now I am a hard working girl and not the kind to enjoy beautifully manicured finger nails , they just wouldn’t stand up to my life style so when I say this delicious Wild berry color makes my nails look good I am referring to my toe nails. And you will just have to take my word for it as my toes are always jammed in work boots.
Just saying the name “Wild berry” makes me tingle with excitement and conjour up images of treking through a hot steamy rain forest in search of exotic creatures to photograph. Escorted by my own personal guide who just happens to look like a George Clooney and is devoted to my every need. Ok I am getting a little carried away now.
Don’t worry I am not losing it, I know just painting my nails wont magically create this fantasy life, but allowing your color to inspire your fantasy is a great starting point to making it a reality. Until I really thought about the name “Wild Berry” and allowed myself permission to daydream I had never even considered the possibility of visiting the rain forest. But now I have had those thoughts there is no turning back.
Living like your nail color can be a conscious choice so ladies choose carefully.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Thank you Dr. Phil

I was really excited to watch Dr. Phil yesterday because there was a lady on the show who’s BIG problem in life was her obsession with Farmville.
I too am struggling to justify the time I sit at my computer tending virtual crops and worrying about collecting eggs and milking make believe cows. My husband has told me on numerous occasions to delete the bloody thing and get a life. But its not that easy - then there is the guilt of killing off all those animals, or worse I could just block access to the game then I my farm would still be there but no one would visit or care for the place – I really don’t know which would be worse.
So I was excited to hear what Dr. Phil had to say – guess what he shared my husbands thoughts and told her to delete the bloody thing and get a life, well he didn’t swear but that was his sentiment.
Now this lady had it bad she started farming in the early hours of the morning and neglected her family and home in order to sit at the computer ALL day playing farm.
I really don’t want to become her so I am taking steps to cull my addiction. I have sold off lots of my animals and am planting crops that take 4 days to harvest this means I can take a few days off and who knows in that time I might find a new distraction. If only I could become obsessed with house work and cooking.
Unfortunately there millions of people out there who think Farmville is the best thing since sliced bread, and don’t see a problem with wasting their precious time on Earth tending a virtual farm. Hopefully one day there will be a 12 step program to make the transition back to reality easier.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Help – I don’t know what to wear?

If you have ever thought about getting some publicity shots taken that you can post on your web site or business cards and break out in a cold sweat trying to figure out “What to Wear” here are a few tips that might help.
Business / Publicity Portraits
Clothes & Colors, keep in mind that you want to appear professional but friendly. When in doubt about what to wear, a slightly conservative look is best. A jacket in blue, navy, grey, burgundy, or black are always safe choices. Avoid light pastels, bold stripes, bold patterns or anything that is too distracting, a subtle pattern is fine. Also avoid short sleeves if a jacket is not worn, upper arms always tend to photograph wider than they are in real life. Darker colors are "slimming.” Corporate portraits are just head and shoulders so don't worry about your shoes. Keep jewellery simple unless you are a rodeo queen and then bling bling bling!

The Psychology of Color:
• Green is the “Don’t trust me” color
• "Cheap Image" color is Purple
• The "Unsophisticated or Slob" color is Brown, avoid it!
• Navy says "Success”
• Earth tones appear friendly and approachable
• Black is for the very stern and serious
• Yellow appears positive and friendly
• A dark dusty pink is calming and non threatening “soft”
According to various sources I researched on the internet, so you might want to take those suggestions lightly
Many of my clients are horsemen and women so a formal business attire would really not send the right message.
My best advice is to go for a classy country look, that doesn’t mean what you would wear whilst mucking out the barn - But a nice fitting pair of jeans and boots, avoid white socks and running shoes, teamed with a clean well pressed long sleeve shirt, you might want to team it with a nice vest or lightweight jacked – remember to keep patterns to a minimum. Your portraits will look more authentic if taken outdoors and maybe leaning against a fence or holding onto a horse.
A word of caution regarding hats – they create a shadow over your face, so if you absolutely must wear a hat try to try to wear it slightly further back to allow light to reach your eyes.
Hands: Ladies hands are often included in portraits, they add femininity and elegance. Having your nails done is important. If you have work hands a pair of nice leather gloves will cover up a multitude of sins.
Makeup: Remember to bring along some makeup (lip-gloss and powder) for touch ups. A more natural look is better than heavy make up.
Think about the image you want to project in your portrait, conservative, sporty, professional, friendly, artsy, approachable.
Contact Lens: Some people who wear contact lens tend to blink on a high percentage of photos, it might be a good idea for contact lens wearer to wear glasses and take them off for the portraits.
However The most important thing you can wear is a smile
Last but not least: remember to get a good night sleep for that fresh look.
If you would like help creating a “Sharper Image” in your business or promotional pictures I can help.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Wild Mongolian Horses in Alberta?

When I first started work on the Equine Heritage Exhibit - I had a mandate to locate – photograph and document all the different breeds of horses that make up the equine population in Alberta. I was given 2 years in which to complete this project
The initial list included 40 different breeds, however I photographed 43 in the first year and the list just keeps on growing. I can’t take credit for locating all these horses I had lots of help from people within the horse industry. What would typically happen whilst on a shoot they would suggest people they knew who specialized in a certain breed and owned either a stallion and a few mares or in some cases large herds. Some of these suggestions were of breeds that were not even on my list, which made the whole project very exciting. As I really don’t know exactly how many breeds are represented here in Alberta.
Last week I went out to photograph Zebras at Calgary zoo - although it was a bit of a stretch, I know they are not horses but they certainly are equines. Plus it was an excuse to get up close and personal with two very cute female zebras and capture unique images of them in the snow - after all most Zebras should never see snow.
Today I discovered there is a small herd of wild Mongolian horses in Southern Alberta. In all the years I have been an equine photographer I have never seen a Mongolian horse so I am very excited at the prospect of meeting them, and truly fascinated to find out why they are here. Hopefully I can arrange a photo shoot soon – I would like to shoot them in a winter setting.
I wonder how many different breeds of horses there are in the World?
If anyone knows of an official list or unofficial for that matter I would love to see it.
I think I will make it my personal goal to photograph as many of them as humanly possible.

Monday, January 18, 2010

I Thought Sweat Shops were illegal

I Thought Sweat Shops were illegal

All the experts tell you when starting a business your decisions must be based on facts and figures NOT emotions.

So I broke all the rules right from the get go when I started my Business “Hats By Emmanuel”. You see, my desire was to make a difference and help ladies suffering with hair loss due to chemo therapy. I thought my creative styles coupled with soft luxurious fabrics could help them through a very difficult time.

I had no business plan or idea where I wanted the business to go either short term or long term. 12 years ago I just knew there was a need and I wanted to fill it.

Now the experts also tell you when you fail to plan you “plan to fail” but sometimes when your heart is in the right place and you don’t mind working really hard the plan just unfolds as you go along.

I went from creating a couple of dozen pieces per week and selling them down at the farmers market to providing a full line of specialty headwear to hospital gift shops and wig stores all across Canada. Now production is around 8 – 15 dozen per week. So I got my wish, I am making a difference and reaching lots of ladies in what is probably their lowest point.

However I never planned on running a sweat shop and certainly didn’t plan on doing all the sweating. Maybe a business plan wouldn’t be such a bad idea after all.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Should I give away the Farm?

Ok - I am not talking about “Farmville” what I am thinking of doing is giving away all my trade secrets.
Allow me to explain!
If anyone has ever tried to take pictures of their animals it doesn’t matter whether they are horses or dogs you will have realized that there is a certain amount of expertise needed to achieve those beautiful animal portrait you see printed on calendars.
For many many years I have worked with horses and dogs - honing my skills as a Professional animal photographer, and I feel it is time to pass on all those gems of information that will ensure other people can capture stunning images of their pets.
So I have designed a one day “hands on” workshop on How to shoot horses like the pro’s – Photographically of course. This workshop will include live animal models and cover things like understanding natural light and how to pose – style and prop using whatever you have available. I am still working on the accompanying workbook, but with just a few more hours at the computer it should be ready to launch.
My husband - Tom – thinks I am crazy to share all my hard earned secrets, he says I am training my competitors. However I don’t agree – I know everyone has digital cameras and if they have animals - whatever size they are - they like to take pictures of their fury friends so I feel it would be unfair not to share my knowledge. Not only that I feel there is plenty of Sunshine for everyone and if I can also help an amateur photographer take the leap and launch themselves into a career of photography – that is OK with me too.
I have one riding school interested in hosting a Photo workshop so it looks like this new venture will launch very soon.
The work book will be available on my web site
As soon as it is completed, I will keep you posted

Friday, January 15, 2010

From Boring to Brilliant

I want to encourage you all to embrace boring chores – you know the ones you procrastinate over but know you have to do.

In my specialty headwear business “Hats By Emmanuel” there are lots of very boring repetitive steps to producing turbans and scarves. The fact that these items really do help ladies undergoing cancer treatments feel better about the way they look helps – but only a little. There are still hours and hours of repetition.

Until I discovered that boring is a door way to brilliant - now I welcome the tasks I used to avoid. Allow me to explain;

As you do mindless repetitive jobs it fee’s your mind up to think very creatively – its all about your attitude and willingness to allow creative thoughts and ideas in.

The best way is to before you start your job, to think of a problem or situation you need solving – then begin your tasks with an open mind.

That is the key if you are saying to yourself - things like I hate this job or are wishing your time away your mind is full of negativity and is blocking all the potentially brilliant ideas.

Ps. Keep a pen and paper handy to write them all down.

Or use this time to daydream about desired outcomes - one of my dreams is to be an official photographer at the Olympics in 2010, so I would visualize the whole thing from buying my plane ticket, and packing up all the equipment I would need to standing on the rail waiting for the first dressage rider to enter at “A”. This little daydream allows me to see areas that need work – and steps I can take to move closer to my goal.

I hope this helps get you through the dull day-to-day stuff