Today’s interview is with Jessica Sanders of Jessica Sanders Photography. Jessica is based in Pennington, New Jersey which is close to the Pennsylvania/New Jersey border.
How did you come to be Jessica Sanders Photography? What was your journey to becoming a horse
I started out photographing food for a food website!
I transitioned into family portraits/babies/engagements when we moved from Maryland to New Jersey and my job changed. But to be honest, I never really enjoyed that type of portrait photography. I don’t have much experience with kids, so I was always a bit out of my element. I really prefer animals!
When the girls at my barn started asking me to take pictures of them with their horses or at shows, I realized how much fun it was to marry my two loves (photography and horses). So, I started building my portfolio with friends and model calls. In early 2018, I officially started my equine-only photography business.
In the meantime, I ended up buying my heart horse and when he got very sick last fall, I realized just how critical it is to really document our lives with our horses, as anything can happen at any second with these animals.
They’re our family members, our babies, our therapists, and our best friends. We owe it to them, and to ourselves, to really do our best to make sure we preserve all of these moments and memories together. I feel that professional portraits are the best way to do that. So here I am, photographing horses!
What type of equine photography do you do?
I photography High School Senior Sessions with horses, Equestrian and Horse Portrait Sessions, and Equestrian Fine Art.
What are your favorite things about being an equine photographer?
Making something beautiful for a fellow horse lover!
I really do feel like while many non-equine photographers can take beautiful pictures of horses, unless they are familiar with horses and personally understand the relationship between horse and rider, they can’t really capture that feeling.
Like the way you look at your horse, the way you love him or her, that feeling you have when the two of you are together, how you trust each other and work together – there’s really nothing like it. You have to experience it to really understand it!
Not to mention all of the quirks and unique elements that come with working with horses. Knowing all of the tricks to get ears forward, flattering angles, posing a 1,000 lb animal in a safe and comfortable way – that’s so vital to getting a beautiful finished product.
So that’s a long-winded way of saying that my favorite thing is that I get to connect with and work with my clients and their horses and create beautiful portraits for them that genuinely and authentically capture the beauty of their horse and the magic of the relationship between horse and rider.
Many years in the future I want them to look at those portraits and remember how incredible it was to be with their horse and how amazing it felt just to be with them. The idea that I can do that for my clients is what pushes me to keep learning and constantly improving and fine-tuning my work and my client experience.
What part of the horse photography job/business do you struggle with? What is your least favorite thing to do?
The business side of things! Marketing. Finding my ideal client, making sure my ideal client can easily find me. Making sure that my work and my brand is in front of the right people, the people that value what I do and value what I have to offer – that’s by far the most difficult part of the job for me. The shooting and editing is the fun and easy part!
Who are some of the other photographers / Creatives / Business People that you look up to and why?
Shelley is the photographer whose work has inspired me the most – she’s also my mentor! In 2016 I made a decision to invest in myself and my business and I flew out to Minnesota to be mentored by Shelley for 2 days. I’ve learned so much from her, and she continues to be incredibly supportive and helpful to me 3 years later. I just love everything about her work – it’s absolutely stunning, and there’s no trendy editing or posing, it’s just gorgeous light and beautiful horses and people.
I’ve never seen ANYONE capture the relationship between horse and rider better than she does. There’s just something about her work that blows my mind – there’s no one that even comes close, in my opinion. And her work ethic is out of this world – she never ever stops learning or trying new things, and that’s incredibly inspiring to me.
Phyllis Burchett is just an all-around incredible photographer and I love her work. She’s also supportive and kind and willing to help a fellow photographer!
What do you never leave home without when you are going to photograph?
My bucket-o-tricks. It’s a bucket with a telescoping pompom, a bike speaker full of recorded whinnies, peppermints in wrappers, an unbreakable camping mirror, and a simple black lead rope, and it goes with me EVERYWHERE, during every single shoot. All of the stuff I need to get ears forward! And the lead rope is essential for black background portraits.
What is the best way for a potential client to reach you?
Potential clients can also reach me on the phone at 805.886.0144 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, visit the Jessica Sanders Photography website to see if we are a good fit.
What are the best places to find you on social media?