Pictures are worth a thousand words, so the expression says, but exactly how important are the pictures used to sell a horse, or promote breeding stock?
It’s no secret that the Arabian horse market faces some challenges at present. This makes it more important than ever to select the very best pictures to represent each horse and make the sale.
Social media runs on pictures. Images are often the first thing the buyer will notice about an advertisement, on screen or otherwise, and can make the difference between them stopping to find out more, or moving on. That first impression counts. With our reach geographically extended by the rise of Facebook and online marketing, many horses are purchased on their sale pictures and video footage alone, making these captured images of paramount importance.
Photographer and graphic designer, Nancy Pierce, is undoubtedly one of the premier photographers in our industry. Her pictures have sold hundreds of horses across the country, and world-wide, for years. Discussing what makes a great sales photo, Nancy says, “The best sales photos will include what I call a ‘wow’ shot - or ‘sell’ shot or two, along with at least one good body shot and one good trotting shot (or a shot of the horse performing whatever its discipline is).”
“Our market is not great, so sales are still fairly difficult to come by, and those trying to sell horses are competing with many, many others who have similar horses to sell. Keep in mind that a photo is usually the very first impression many prospective buyers will have of your horse, and it is true - one bad picture can destroy any possibility of a sale, just as one great picture can sell a horse.”
Talking about the process of capturing your own sales pictures, Nancy shares, “Keep in mind that the photos you use to sell your horse represent how YOU, yourself, value your horse. If you use photos that show your horse lounging in the pasture in front of the tractor, unbrushed, with mud caking his feet - never mind that the angle makes his head look bigger than his body or his neck look short when it is actually quite long - you have just told the world that you don't think much of your horse. If YOU don't think your horse is worth much, why would anyone else think it is? Answer: They won't.”
Many sellers do take their own sales pictures, and at times this is appropriate and effective; at others it is not. Poor quality cell phone pictures, bad angles, and incorrect lighting can all easily misrepresent what horses truly are and fail to show them at their best and most saleable. An often heard sentiment is that hiring a photographer for sales photos seems like a waste of money. Given that the correct photographs can increase the market value and assist in a quicker sale, this could not be further from the truth. Another often incorrect impression is that professional photographs are not affordable. It pays to actually inquire and see what your chosen photographer can offer while remembering professional pictures can be a worthy investment into making sure you get your due return for a horse. Many of the horses sitting stagnant on today’s market are those without a great set of pictures to showcase them and ensure they stand out amongst the competition.
Speaking on professional photoshoots, Nancy gives some advice to those thinking of investing in a shoot. “It helps to consider what goes into getting photos that will help sell your horse. Hiring a skilled equine photographer is a waste of your money and the photographer's time if YOU don't put some effort into properly preparing for the photo shoot,” she explains. “Do your part to give your photographer the best shot at capturing images that will make people want to know more about your horse - images that will make people want to OWN your horse.”
“Make your photoshoot a priority. Make the necessary arrangements to have your horse ready and your helpers in place at the time your photographer asks to start the shoot. Time of day is VERY important in most situations, and a little difference in lighting can be the difference between an ‘okay' photo of your horse and a ‘startlingly beautiful’ photo of your horse. Which photo do you think is mostly likely to get buyers' attention?”
“Other than that, have your horse clean, brushed, and ready to shoot, and provide at least a small, uncluttered area in which to photograph it. Most of today's equine photographers can do wonders with very little to work with, but don't expect miracles. You can see detailed information on photoshoot preparation on my website.”
If you are unable to invest in a professional shoot for your horse, it pays to do a little research and try to conduct a photoshoot of your own in as much of a professional manner as possible. If you do not have a good quality camera, borrow one. Shots should be taken in a clean and pleasant environment and feature a well-groomed, well presented horse. The background should be uncluttered, and shots should be taken at an angle that best showcases the horse.
In a tough market where your sale horse has to compete for buyers with tens and even hundreds of others, correct advertisement and marketing is critical. In sales, a set of solid pictures really can be worth a thousand words.
For more information about Nancy, and her affordable equine photography and design services, you can visit her website.
All photos used in this article are property of Nancy Pierce.