One of my favourite aspects of being a photographer is being able to tell the story of a person, a product or a brand through the images I create for them.  Storytelling photography can have the most enormous impact on people.  Whether they are looking to purchase something as simple as a face cream, maybe they want to find a new recipe for biscuits, or book a holiday, what can really help someone ‘buy now’ or engage further is how those images make them feel – personally.

What I wasn’t expecting on one particular shoot was to get so heavily invested personally that I was actually struggling to mentally to keep myself in a place where I could remain effective.

Let me explain…


On this particular shoot I was working with 2 brands – Dimpsey Glamping and Horseshoe Hearts & Gifts.  The brief was to tell the tale of how Horseshoe Hearts & Gifts were creating beautiful metal gifts for Dimpsey Glamping, a luxury glamping site in Somerset.  The shoot was to the tale of how the Blacksmith team were recycling rusty old horse shoes into beautiful heartfelt horse shoe based gifts that guests stopping at Dimpsey could be purchase in celebration of an event. 

The forge in Hertfordshire was quite close to where I grew up, so it was nice chatting to Barry & Faye from Horseshoe Hearts about familiar places as we all set about capturing the combined story for Dimpsey and Horseshoe Hearts & Gifts.  I was very comfortable with my brief from Emma who runs Dimpsey, knew the style of photography she prefers for this particular business and because I was familiar with farrier work with my own horses I knew what the guys were likely to do in the forge, even if I didn’t know the full process with what they were creating.  We shot part of the process and Faye explained the depths they go to with each order, including what can be achieved with shoes of different conditions and how the metal reacts with the fire.

I was working with them, at their pace, as I don’t like to hinder the process if I can help it and it worked with the customers brief too on this occasion –   Natural, movement, dark. Stopping the session to create a more posed shot wasn’t requirement and for me wouldn’t haven’t created the right mood or final result.  We broke for coffee and at this point remembered that I’d put a pair of my own horses shoes in my car for Barry & Faye to work their magic on for me too at a later date.

What I wasn’t expecting was for those shoes to go straight into the fire and start their journey to becoming something very personal for me.

My photographic mission for businesses is to give them the visual tools to succeed.  Part of that is learning the customers own back story, what they offer their customers and the bit that makes them ‘them’.  It’s important I take the time to get under their skin a bit so I can shoot in a way to really draw out their story out visually

At the point my horse shoes became part of the story the shoot took on a completely different feel for me.  I was suddenly personally invested to a different extent.  This was business being mixed with pleasure in a way that I hadn’t experienced before.  These shoes are from a horse who has lifted my confidence dramatically in the 18 months I’ve had him, I’m re-discovering jumping and competing after a huge number of years not doing anything of the sort.  So he’s a very special horse to me who will hopefully grow old in a field when his ridden days are over.  Watching his shoes worked on by a team with so much experience and a team that understood the emotional value behind the shoes was incredible.  I was drawn into the process in a totally different way.

blankI suppose I connected even further with the story of Horseshoe Hearts & Gifts as it had become deeply personal now.  I suddenly became the customer and had this intense vested interest in the process my horses shoes were going through.  It was exciting too.

At times I had to mentally step back though to ensure I was getting the images that fitted the brief.  It would have been really easy to just click away and capture something that only worked for me.   I knew though that I was in the moment for my customers but connected in a different way than usual.

Irrespective of who owned the shoes, what was being created with them or even where they might finally end up, the story wasn’t one of a dull ‘9-5’ conveyor belt production story by Barry and Faye.  Nothing was being simply churned out it.  It was one of individual full of pride, creative skill and the knowledge that each one would be have a special place in someone’s heart.  The time they take on each shoe can’t possibly be covered by the price they charge to create these beautiful sculptures.  The pieces that Horseshoe Hearts created for Dimpsey are truly stunning and now there’s both a perfect gift for Hut guests to purchase and a fabulous visual story that will go with any written content that’s created.

I genuinely love what I do for others.  Getting to the heart of a story makes all the difference to me and this first part of the shoot really set me up for the remaining aspects of the day ahead for the whole team.  We still had lots to do as there were other projects to photograph, including a stunning, much loved horse.  A session I was really looking forward to as the brief for that one was one of passion and serenity.

I was truly buzzing now!

Rachel x

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