Radio Interview Transcripts

More Photos Radio - As You Like It Productions Equine Photography
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ANNOUNCER:  Welcome to the More Photos’ Radio Photography Spotlight brought to you by Morephotos.com helping professional photographers with all their internet needs. Also brought to you by Labimages.com. Finally, an e-commerce solution for professional photo labs that makes sense. Now here is your host, Damien Allen.  DAMIEN: Good morning and welcome to More Photos Radio. My name is Damien Allen, and joining me today on the telephone is Carol Coronois of As You Like Productions in Chatham, New York.  Good morning, Carol, welcome to the program.
 
CAROL: Good morning, Damien, thank you.
 
DAMIEN: It’s a pleasure to have you here today. I hope you’re doing well.
 
CAROL: I am, in deed. It’s a beautiful day. It’s going to be a little hot, but I am inside so it’s fine.
 
DAMIEN: You have all the heat we had yesterday. Today I have rain and it’s a little bit cooler, but let’s get started here. What is As You Like it Productions and how long has it been in business?
 
CAROL:  As You Like it Productions started business 15 years ago in equine videography, and we are now as of the end of last show season equine photography strictly.
 
DAMIEN: You’ve made the jump from video; you’re just doing photography?
 
CAROL: That is correct, yes.
 
DAMIEN: You are located in Chatham, New York. What equestrian events can we find As you Like it Productions?
 
CAROL: Well Chatham is a very horse heavy population, although, we don’t do an awful lot locally as far as competitions go. With the video business we traveled as far as Atlanta, Georgia, and out toward Cape Cod, and out to Rochester, New York. With the photography, we are staying a little bit closer to home, and go out to probably an hour and a half away. That’s generally our limit, but there are all kinds of equestrian events. We do horse trials which is a smaller version of the Olympic 3 day competition which includes dressage, cross country and stadium jumping. We do some hunters and jumpers. We do some reining horses and we do Paso Fino which is a fairly unique gaited breed. We’ve been doing those for about 15 years. Their people are like family to us.
 
DAMIEN: Do you do all the  photography on your own? Do you have somebody that works with you to do the photography with this being a new venture for you?
 
CAROL: Well it’s new in a way, but yes I do have someone working with me. My partner, Ed, actually had done quite a bit of photography in a previous life, and when he started coming to some of the shows with me for which we had video contracts, but only needed one camera, he’d get bored. So he brought his camera with him and started shooting and learning an awful lot about equine photography which is very different from the wedding and product photography that he had done way in the past, and he couldn’t have picked a more challenging area to revise his talents. These are cutting horse shows which are very fast, western shows where a cowboy or cowgirl goes into a herd of cattle, selects one, pulls it out and with some help from people who stay around, but not actively involved hold that cow out for a certain period of time to keep it from coming back into the herd, and you just get dust beyond belief. You’re shooting into a large open door which gives you all kinds of lovely backlight. Aside from the backlight, you also have the horrible lighting in the arena, and behind you you have 15 or 20 horses  loping around all day long. So you’ve got dust, terrible lighting, but he finally figured out how to deal with that, and so he enjoyed it and we sort of edged into the photography from there. I’ve always enjoyed photography and as we backed away from some of our bigger video shows which required additional help which got harder and harder to find, we got more into expanding the business towards photography and then as I said at the end of the last season, we realized that our equipment was getting old and as I said, help was harder and harder to find for the video. So we just stopped that and started focusing on photography.
 
DAMIEN: Now that particular event sounds like it’s a little more challenging. Is it normally difficult to photograph horses, or these kinds of action events?
 
CAROL: It’s difficult because you can’t ask for a do over. You can’t say, “Hey, hold that. Would you do that again?” Because they can’t. It’s also difficult because each of the different disciplines and sometimes the different breeds are looking for something different so you have to know exactly what the competition is, what those individual people are looking for in the point of stride. Just for an example the trot is generally the prettiest, flat gait to photograph, but the western and hunter horses prefer to see the inside leg forward and at various degrees or elevations, the saddle breeds and the gaited horses want the outside leg up and you have to know that and you have to make sure the rider is in good position, the Paso Finos to which I eluded earlier are a very differently gaited horse, and we have a wonderful customer who actually took the time several years ago and sat down with me and looked at some pictures and each bent lock has to be at a different angle, because their gait is a single foot gait. So they move so fast that it’s really hard to see it so it’s not until I get the picture online that I can actually tell which is in perfect stride or not. So, yes, it’s difficult and you have to know what you’re looking at and know what the people want.
 
DAMIEN: What other types of services does As You Like It Productions offer, Carol?
 
CAROL: We really don’t do a lot of other services other than equine photography. We have been talking pretty much about competition which is how we really started focusing on it, but we are actually working now more towards private sessions, on location shooting for senior portraits, holiday gifts, life time memories with horses of course and sometimes their people. A beautiful, professionally created portrait is the perfect thank you for somebody who has sponsored you whether that is your grand parent, a parent, spouse, trainer, and I’m not saying sponsor formally obviously, but who has supported you throughout your endeavor, because horses aren’t cheap and it’s a very, relatively expensive sport depending on what you’re doing with it, and the keepsake is really something that is very, very special. Some of our adult riders have them done so they can hand them down to future generations so those people who may or may not really know that person whether it’s a grandparent or whoever can know more than just a flat picture. They can get a feel in of the heart and sole of that particular ancestor. So we really enjoy doing that and it, again, is very challenging. The other thing that we do which is sort of more personal than formal, although, it becomes formal, this spring I took a fine art class with Rachel Waller online and that is just a whole different area of equine photography. It’s very challenging, it’s very fulfilling. What I did was take 10 of my images and work them into fine art which has a more broad appeal. Most of what we do is very individual specific, you know, you’re not going to buy a picture of Suzy Jones from Chatham, New York, riding a horse, because who cares except Suzy and her family, but the fine art has to appeal to many people. It has to tug the strings of the people who are looking at and those are very different strings for different people as we know. So I took 10 images, I put them together in a collection that I called Ozzie’s Girls and Their Horses, because we’ve all heard that phrase from somebody. Generally some guy who came to a horse show with us or put up with, “I’m sorry I have to go ride my horse now.” And it’s either said between gritted teeth or with a shake of the head, but anyway that’s what I called my collection. I had them printed on just absolutely exquisite fine art paper which is totally different than photographic paper. They were professionally framed by a very talented, generous professional down in Chatham that owns a gallery. He gave me a lot of guidance on that and a local restaurant which is in a beautifully, old restored building hung them for six weeks in their gallery, and that was really neat. I had a Meet the Photographer tea at the beginning and a wrap party at the end. That was just great fun. Actually several pieces are still in one of their private dining rooms upstairs and then I took five other pieces from that collection and they were selected and accepted by the Spa Fine Art Gallery up in Saratoga the beginning of July and if you’re not a racing fan and you don’t know Saratoga, it’s the pinnacle of the thoroughbred racing, and I went up there very hesitantly and they just loved the work and for a newbie to get that kind of exposure is just so incredible. I still pinch myself on that.
 
DAMIEN: In deed. What is the most challenging aspect of  doing Equestrienne photography?
 
 
CAROL: Well I’ve said at one point there is no posing, there is no hold it right there. You don’t get to set up right, there would be competition, I’m back on that again, because that’s kind of the hardest part. You’ve got a background which you have very little control over, a lot of poles, a lot of trailers, a lot of garbage cans which are all totally attractive. A lot of flat, bright light, because horse shows run all day if they are outside. If they are not outside, you have even more lovely conditions, because most indoors don’t have lighting that is appropriate for good photography. So you have to use flash.
 
 
DAMIEN: You have a choice of sodium arclate or florescent, congratulations, deal with it.
 
CAROL: Right. Just perfect. So unfortunately probably the most challenging aspect, and the reason that a lot of equine competition photographers are actually moving towards other aspects of the business is lack of support from the show management. Even with a signed contract it gives the official photographer exclusive rights to shoot photos for sale on the grounds. We often end up with a number of what we fondly call poachers. Now I’m not talking about the parents with the camera taking pictures of their kids, that’s fine. We all anticipate that. We’ve all been there; we’ve all done it, but talking about other professionals or a wanna be profession who makes no bones about what they are doing, what they intend to sell, I mean, some even hand out business cards and tell people when the photos will be up online or even worse, they tell us they are just practicing taking pictures of their friend, their daughter, whatever, and they must think we can’t see them when they stand their shooting the entire class so that’s really very frustrating and the horse shows, especially the ones we do are fairly small, that most people do actually. There are a couple of huge shows throughout the country, throughout the year, but do have additional or more than one official photographer, but the run of the mill shows just aren’t big enough to handle that much. We pay our own way for the most part. We support the show by sponsoring classes, giving gift certificates, and it just makes it really hard when it sometimes seems like the person who signed the contract never even read it and has no clue of what they signed and what we expected that they support for us, but we’ve been really very, very fortunate to not meet too much of that kind of management. The management that supports and respects us and honors the contract, we do whatever we can to keep them happy, because it’s a mutual admiration society. Once in a while we run into the other, and we don’t have so much admiration, and we very often don’t bother attempting to get that contract again. For our portrait work the most challenging really is getting the person to interact with the horse and trying to get the horse to interact with the person, but it’s usually the person who is very conscious of the camera and I think we’ve somehow…they get focused on posing and that’s not the portrait that we want. Now our desire, of course, doesn’t override what the customer wants. So we take a couple of the formal type, you know, standing up looking at the camera stuff, but the ones that are most meaningful are the interaction between the person or owner and the horse. Just being themselves, you know, catching that moment that really shows the bond. That’s kind of hard, horses are worse than small children. They have a very limited attention span. Ed helps me a lot when we’re doing the portrait shoots by what we call catching ears and that doesn’t mean that the ears are going flying around, and he goes chasing after them with a butterfly net. It means getting the horse’s ears forward so they look very positive and interested in what’s going on, and we have a number of little toys we use for that, but they only fall for those toys once or twice and then you have to use a different toy to catch their attention the next time. Everything has its challenge, but it is what we love doing and we have a lot of fun. We build good relationships with our customers and word of mouth is the best way of going.
 
DAMIEN:   Well they are absolutely beautiful animals. You are extremely lucky to work with them in your everyday job. If somebody wants more information, what is the best
number and what is the contact information, where’s the website so people can go check out your work, Carol?
 
CAROL: Our website is www.ayliprod.com and if you remember As You Like It Productions, that makes sense. You can email me at info@ayliprod.com. I try to get it back to everybody promptly, but I do work full time so that means pretty much in the evenings. If we need to talk in person which is always much better than email, we set up a mutually convenient time to discuss the customer’s needs or ideas.
 
DAMIEN:  We’d like to thank you very much for joining us today, Carol.
 
CAROL: Damien, thank you very much. This has been fun.
 
DAMIEN: It’s been a pleasure for us as well. We’ve been speaking with Carol Coronois of As You Like It Productions in Chatham, New York. You have been listening to More Photos Radio. Thanks for joining us today everybody, and have a great afternoon.
 
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