Featured Photog: Lindsay Horn

Lindsay Horn of Lindsay Horn Photography

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Q. Tell us a little about yourself in just two sentences.

I’m an extraordinarily blessed wife to my amazing husband Ross and mother of two {mostly} precious little girls (the younger is set to make her debut this summer!).  I love golden evening light, the smell of rain, Blue Bell ice cream, soccer, and the great state of Texas.

Q. What do you shoot with and what is your favorite lens and why?

I shoot with a Nikon D700, and my favorite lens is my 85mm f/1.8.  I love the great separation I get from my background and it has the most gorgeous bokeh – it’s the perfect portrait lens!

Q. When did you start shooting for fun and then move to shooting professionally?

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t shooting for fun – I’ve had a camera permanently attached since my teenage years.  I took a class on Digital Photography during my last semester of college where I learned how to shoot in manual (on my trusty Canon G5) and the basics of Photoshop.  That was where I truly fell in love with the *art* of photography.  During the next few years my hobby became much more serious, and I purchased my first DSLR (a Nikon D80) in the spring of 2007.  After my daughter was born in October of 2008, I really soaked up every ounce of knowledge that I could while striving to take better pictures of her.  By the summer of 2009, I launched my business, and the rest is history!

Q.  Are you formally taught or self taught?

Except for the one college course I took, I’ve had no other “formal” education.  My degree is actually in Business, and in my opinion, that has been equally as useful in running a photography business!  I’ve had the opportunity to take a few workshops and seminars from some very talented photographers, and I credit them (and lots of trial and error) with helping me get to the next level with my photography.

Q. What is your specialty and how did you decide to specialize in that area of photography?

I specialize in high school seniors, mostly senior girls.  I never intended to specialize in seniors, it just sort of “happened” to me. J  I booked a few seniors my first fall in business, and by the following spring my schedule was inundated with seniors.  Conveniently, I love photographing seniors and teens!  They are almost always enthusiastic about their sessions, I feel like I’m able to successfully connect and relate to them 99% of the time, and they follow direction well (usually!), which allows me to really get creative.  Most of all, I think it’s so important for teenage girls of all types and sizes to be shown how beautiful they are, just as they are.  There’s nothing more fulfilling than that!

Q. How many sessions are you shooting a month?

I’m currently booking 4-6 sessions a month depending on the month.  My business model is geared towards a very custom and personal experience for each and every client, which includes in-person planning consultations before the session, ordering sessions upon request, hand-delivering orders, etc.  In other words, I spend a LOT of hours on each client (many in person), and I keep my bookings very limited in order to afford each client 100% of my attention (and keep my sanity).   Learning to say “no” was very difficult, but it’s the only way to maintain the type of business I want to have.

Q.  On average how long to do you spend editing each session and do you listen to music while editing or just enjoy the quiet?

I probably spend 4-6 hours editing each session from downloading to posting galleries.  I used to watch streaming movies and shows on Netflix while I edited, but lately I’ve been caught up in the Pandora craze.  I’ve found I’m much more efficient listening to music rather than trying to listen to/watch TV.  The quiet makes me restless!

Q. What is the best marketing tool that works for you or was a total waste of time?  Do you advertise in print?  Do you offer referral bonuses?  If yes, please share a little.

About 95% of my business comes from word of mouth referrals, and then I get the occasional random web search inquiries.  When I was first starting out, I printed up some postcard marketing pieces and put them in my OB office, my pediatrician’s office, my daughter’s Gymboree class, etc. – as far as I know, I never received a single booking from those cards.  They were definitely a waste of time (for me).  I do offer referral bonuses – clients get a $50 print credit for each referral that they send my way, and returning clients also get 15% off of their session retainers.  I’m all about cultivating the type of relationships with my clients that make them want to spread the word!

Q. What do you do to “stand out” from surrounding photographers that you’re competing with?

Hmmm, that’s always a tough thing, and it’s also still a fluid work in progress.  There are SO many talented photographers in my area.  I do my best to separate myself from the pack through the entire experience I create for my clients.  As I mentioned earlier, I do in-person consultations before every session (usually at the client’s home) to “design” their session.  We talk about everything – style, location, wardrobe, props, etc.  My goal is to create images that reflect not only their vision for the session, but their personality as well.  The opportunity to get to know them a little ahead of time is not only helpful for planning purposes, but it makes the sessions so much more relaxed from the get-go, and I feel like it’s one of the reasons I’m able to get really natural-looking images.  I also show samples of every product that I offer at these meetings so we can discuss what their needs and expectations are in regards to displaying their portraits.  In addition to these meetings, I also offer ordering sessions or product reviews upon request, I use boutique packaging, I hand-deliver orders, and every client gets a personal hand-written thank you note. J  Honestly, I walk away from these sessions feeling like I’ve made dear friends.  In fact, I dropped off an order just last week and ended up chatting for about half an hour about all kinds of non-photography things.  It was like catching up with a friend!  I think that this is the type of experience that people want to talk to their friends about, and it can really pay off.

Q. What was your biggest mistake and how did you fix it?

My biggest mistake is nothing new to the photography world – PRICING.  Like many photographers, I started out without a full understanding of what all was involved in running a business.  Luckily, it didn’t take me long to recognize that I was spending hours away from my family for barely minimum wage.  The single BEST thing I ever did for my business was to work with a mentor.  She helped me to restructure my business model in a way that both allowed me to realize the vision I always had for my  business AND make sure that I was profitable and meeting my financial goals.  If she didn’t live in Alaska, I would go by her house and hug her every day (shout out to Chelsey of MachC Photography!).  I know that many new photographers want to focus on investing in their equipment and not as much in their business knowledge, but trust me – put your money into setting up your business the way it should be from the start and the rest will take care of itself.

Q. What is your favorite part of being a photographer?

I know it sounds cliché, but capturing the natural beauty that ALL of my clients possess is what I love most about being a photographer.  This is true for clients of any age and gender, but I find it particularly rewarding when I’m working with teenage girls.  They are constantly bombarded on all sides by magazines, marketing, and other media telling them how they can improve and change themselves.  The ability to embrace who they are and their own inner and outer beauty at this point in their lives is a tremendous gift, and that’s what I strive to encourage in each of my clients.

Q. Please share your favorite image and tell us what makes this your favorite?

Oh wow, just one?!?  I have the hardest time choosing images.  I get so emotionally attached to so many – my overflowing (and outdated) website galleries can back me up on this one.  Right now, I love this image of my husband and daughter.  They are pretty much my two favorite people on the planet, and this image is so simple yet pulls on my heartstrings in so many ways.

Q. Can you show us your shooting space?

I shoot all on location.  A lot of my locations are really natural spots, so they look completely different all the time!  It’s hard to choose a favorite – can I pick one for each season? J  Honestly, my favorite place to shoot is actually about 2 ½ hours from where I live, so I pretty much only get to shoot family out there (although I’m considering some “destination sessions” one of these days).  It’s a little piece of family property in Central Texas, and it is just filled with awesome photo spots.  It is VERY Texan, which I love.  Here are a few that I took of my {highly uncooperative} daughter recently – there were even some bluebonnets!

Q. Please share an image of your prop closet with us! We’d love to see who’s organized and who’s not and what you have in your stash!

Q. Is there anything you would like to share with us?  Maybe mentoring you offer or any side projects.

I’m not offering any formal mentoring at this time, although with as much as I’ve gained from mentoring with other photographers, it’s something I hope to be able to do in the future!  I am a part of a group of 7 other photographers who put together weekly What to Wear posts and other great session style content over on our Facebook page Wardrobe Wednesdays {HERE}.  It’s become a really great collection of ideas and tips for all types of sessions, and photographers across the country are sending their clients there for inspiration.  We’ve got some big plans in the works, so head on over and “Like” us to stay updated!

Thank you so much for the opportunity to be featured, and I hope this will be helpful to someone out there!

More of Lindsay’s stunning work:

Thank You Lindsay for sharing your story and beautiful images with us.  It was a pleasure to get to know you better!



PS … Tomorrow Lindsay shares a great photography tip!

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Sandy - May 9, 2011 - 9:24 am

Although I am a friend of the family, and keep up with Lindsay’s great work through her website, I loved, loved reading & looking at this great feature of her and her work! I guess I would be called her photography secret admirer because I would LOVE to be able to take pictures like she does!! She is super talented!!
Thanks for an inside peek!!

Elka Swingle - May 9, 2011 - 1:35 pm

LOVE this photog interview. Thanks for sharing and inspiring us!

Tara Swain - May 9, 2011 - 10:34 pm

Great interview. Beautiful images. :)

Kristy - May 12, 2011 - 12:01 am

Thanks so much for the feature on Lindsay Horn…it was a great read and I’m in love with her work…

Heather - May 13, 2011 - 1:13 am

Great interview! Congrats Lindsay! you are an inspiration!

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