Spring Is Here

Welcome to spring!  What I love is watching all the new life, from baby horses to the new grass under their feet. How can you not smile when a foal is racing around its new environment learning how to use all those long legs they were given?

Understanding Cost of Goods Sold

Understanding Cost of Goods Sold


The second half of figuring out what to charge for your photography requires us to figure out our cost of good sold or COGS. So what is COGS??? It is simply the costs  associated with making a product. Let’s use a laptop computer as an example.  The manufacturer must invest in all the parts necessary to build a working laptop: i.e. motherboard, screen, hard drive, ports, etc. Adding up all the cost of these parts is the COGS. So while they may charge you $2,000 for a laptop, their cost to actually make it could be half that.

So what makes up your COGS?

  • the cost of albums, prints, canvases, frames or other items you purchase from a lab that can assigned to a particular customer
  • Square, PayPal or other credit card company processing fees
  • Parking fees, tolls to get to a photo shoot

Now that we know what can be included, what is not?

  • Camera equipment, including cameras, lenses, CF cards, etc.
  • Books, workshops or other continuing education
  • Business cards, order forms or other marketing materials
  • Insurance, utilities or professional fees


How about a couple of real life examples?

1 – You have a shoot at your own ranch….

Customer purchased 20 digital images from the session.  These are delivered via Dropbox or email.

Since you have not traveled anywhere, there are no costs associated with travel, (ok, you are so lucky to have your own ranch to shoot at!!!).  While the customer placed a nice order, you have no cost associated with the deliver of images since you are delivering them digitally.

So what is your COGS for this example??   If you came up with $0, then you would be correct!


2 –  We are still shooting at your ranch (you lucky photographer!)…

You customer has decided to purchase 15 of your amazing images, but they want them on a USB drive.

Once again you have no costs associated with travel, so there is nothing to include there… But, you have purchased a USB drive to deliver the images to the customer.  You purchased the drive for $15 (if you purchased a bunch of drives in bulk, I would still calculate the cost of each drive then assign that cost to each customer that gets one).

Our COGS for this examples is………. yep $15.



3 – Shooting at a customers ranch…

Our next customer had you come out to their stunning ranch to do portraits of their prized horses and their family.  And guess what they have decided to purchase a very large canvas of the family, 5 – 11 ” x 14″ prints of the horses, some digitals for advertising purposes which shall be emailed to the ad design company and a usb drive with some family photos on it.  So now what is our COGS???

The usb drive still has a cost of $15

The emailed images have a cost of $0

The large canvas cost from the lab is $65

The 11″ x 14″ prints are $4 each so $20

So our COGS for this shoot is $100



We also need to remember that every COGS is only associated with the production of a service or tangible good.

Knowing our COGS tells us if we are  pricing our products appropriately to make a profit. I mean really who wants to work for free?

Well now that we know how to figure out or COGS, what the heck do we do with it??

When we start setting our prices, we need to take into consideration not only our CODB, but also our COGS.  By using all of the information we have  work so hard to figure out, we can now decide how much to charge not only for our time, but also for our product.  While looking at what others are charging will give you a good idea of what your competition is doing, it will not help you.  Usually you want to at minimum triple your COGS for each product.  You have no idea what their CODB or COGS is, which will not help you, your costs could be less or more than what theirs is, and by just using what they use, could put you in the red.

Ok next up we are going to start shooting!!!!




How to Charge for Your Photography

How to Charge for Your Photography

Next in our series of starting an equine photography business is to figure out what we need to charge for our beautiful pictures and oh yeah our time. Yes, you should get paid for your time as well as your products.  Many new photographers want to know what others are charging and base their fees on those numbers.  While it is great to know what the competition is charging, it does nothing for sustaining your own business.  Your costs may not be the same as mine, and I know my costs are not the same as others in my industry. We each have our own CODB and we need to know what that is. So today we are going to get into another portion of our business,  (sorry no shooting yet….we will get there, I promise), we are going to be figuring out our cost of doing business or CODB. You only thought that doing a business plan was scary, this work is going to show you what you need to make in order to make a living. I know when I fist did all of this, my eyes must have glazed over and looked like the proverbial deer in the headlights. We are going to try to make this as non scary and painless as we can.CharlySRS_9627

CODB – what is it and why do you care?   Your cost of doing business is the result of an equation. (Yep we are doing math here, so hang on!) The equation is not that bad.

Non-reimbursable expenses (A), plus your desired salary (B), equals your total annual costs (C). Simple!


First, how much do you want to make a year this is what you want to make as take home pay. (as if you were receiving a paycheck from an employer, and get to take home and spend how you want) $50,000 a year? 75,000 a year? more? Don’t sell yourself short, but also don’t think you will make as much as Bill Gates in your first year.

The addition of your non-reimbursable expenses, these are the costs associated with keeping the lights on and the doors open. Rent, computers, phones, internet, insurance, gear, office supplies, etc., fall into this category. Beware this is going to be a fairly large number for some of you.  Grab a blank sheet of paper and lets make a list of what our non-reimbursable costs are: office/studio

phone (cell and/or landline)

photo equipment (cameras, lenses, memory cards, etc.)

equipment service and repairs (let’s hope not…)




vehicle expense (double check with your tax advisor on what you can include in this one if you are using a personal vehicle for work)

office supplies and furniture

postage and shipping

professional development (workshops, etc.)

advertising & promotion

subscriptions and dues

insurance (business and equipment)

legal and accounting services

taxes and licenses (business and self employment)

office assistant (I wish…)

utilities (other than you phone since we listed that earlier)

travel and entertainment

Your list may not have all of these, or it may have other things not listed here.  The important thing is to include all that you can think of that you will spend to run your business for the year. Some of these thing will take a bit of figuring out, but again put in the time and work, so your outcome will be a realistic number to work from.

Lets try an example:

A= desired salary    $75,000/year

B= total expenses     $75,000/year

$75,000 + $75,000 = $150,000 per year expenses.  So our CODB is $150,00 per year. This is what you will need to make annually just to keep your business going and does not include any savings for your company.

Yep that is a BIG number.

So let’s break it down into some bite size pieces.

You can break it down by month, or week, or by session or horse show. Let’s do it weekly to see what that looks like. So out of 52 weeks in a year, how many will do you want to work? Be sure to include time you want off for vacations, being sick, time for workshops etc. One month off should give you ample time so lets use 48 weeks as our magic number.

So $150,000 codb, divided by our 48 weeks of work time

$150,000 / 48 = $3125

This means that in order to make your $150,00 per year codb, you need to bring in $3,128 each week.  For equine photographers this can be made by shooting ranch/portrait sessions or horse shows or a combination of the two (there are other ways, such as commercial, but we will keep it to just these two ways for simplicity).

Lets use ranch/portrait sessions for our example.  Lets say we can do 3 ranch sessions a week  (remember we need to include email time with the customer, phone time, editing time, travel time etc.). This means we need to make $1,012 per session each week.  This is where our next topic of cost of goods sold or COGS will come in, as this $1,012 per session is just to pay you, and cover your expenses, it does not cover any products for your clients.  SRS_7300

Lets see what  shooting horse shows looks like.  Lets say you shoot three horse shows a month that are each 4 days long, this means you are shooting 144 horse show days a year (this does not include edit time, travel time etc….these are just the days you spend shooting, adding these thing will put you about 250 days a year.)  In order to determine what we need to make each day shooting it will look like this:

$150,o00 / 144 days of actual horse shows = 1,042 per horse show day.

Again this only covers what it will take to pay you and your expenses and does not cover the cost of products that your customers may purchase. So when you are shooting horse shows on spec work (a topic we will cover later on) it can be very daunting, since sales are not guaranteed.DizzyLizzyGirlSRS_0343web

Our next stop will be figuring out our COGS, so stay tuned!







Starting an Equine Photography Business

Starting an Equine Photography Business

So you want to make a business of shooting horses. Awesome!! Now before we jump in and start shooting every living horse we see, lets get down to the business of running a business. Many factors go into owning and running a business and let’s be honest, many of them do not look or sound like fun. Trust me writing about it is not much fun either, but I am doing it to help you! So, don’t let the thought of it deter you from your dream job. What you need to understand is that by starting out the right way, your business is more likely to survive and grow. No one wants to say “well I started a business but had to close it because I did not make any money,” so lets start out with a roadmap to make you successful. While we have not covered everything here, these things are the biggest that you need to make sure you deal with.ShowYourGunsSgSRS_3549

The first step on your new business journey is to make a business plan. Creating a business plan sounds daunting and flat out scary, and for some they never do this. What I have learned though is that this is the equivalent to having a road map or blue print to run your business from. The more work you put into this step, the better prepared you will be. Ever try to build something very complex without a plan? (Ok if you are a guy – you probably have….) Your business should be no different, I would love to see you succeed and a plan will be more help than you can imagine. There are lots of resources to help you build a great business plan. Nolo press has a great book called How To Write A Business Plan and it is available at most book stores or online. (I do not endorse any book or product for remuneration but have used this book and it is easy to understand and helped me tremendously). Another great source for doing your business plan is the Small Business Administration . However you decide to work through creating a business plan, do it, and do it with as much passion as you would shooting a gorgeous horse with a long flowing mane.

If you have absolutely no idea on how to run a business, you may want to invest some time attending some business classes. There are many free resources for this as well as seminars. Again the SBA is a great resource. What you will find is that being a photographer is actually only about 20% shooting and the other 80% you will find yourself in some sort of business mode – accounting, marketing, post process, etc. You may as well figure the hard stuff out now so you can apply yourself to your passion of shooting. So again, find some resources to help you learn the ins and outs of running your business, it will make your life easier in the long run!


Where are you going to run your business? Are you going to get a studio space? or are you going to use a spare bedroom in your home? we need to find out what the zoning ordinances are for our area.  Some areas will not allow you to run a business out of your home.  Other areas may allow you to run your business out of your home, but you can not have clients come to your home office. Your state comptroller can help point you in the right direction of where to find information for your area.  The answer to this could determine where you have your business, so be sure to research this.

We have all heard of a sole proprietorship, LLC, S Corp and C- Corp, we are now at the point that we need to determine what kind of business we are going to be. But, how do you choose the right one? This is a very important area  and way more information than we can discuss here, especially since I am not a tax advisor or an attorney. They way that taxes are dealt with are different for each classification, which makes this a must have conversation with a tax advisor who can help you determine the best option for you. Really the best way to decide which you should use is to have a conversation with your tax advisor. So make an appointment with your tax advisor and be sure to have all your questions written down to take with you so you can make a very informed decision about this step.


So what do you want to call your new baby??  For some their name is the easy route but perhaps you want to have a clever name, like S. Sylvester Photography…oh wait, that is soooo not clever.  There are some great names out there that are being used. Our next stop on our business creating journey is to come up with a name. Your best bet is to come up with a few names that you like, because we are going to have to make sure that someone else is not using the name we want.  For me I had to go to the Texas Comptroller to see if the name I wanted had been used yet. So find your local comptroller and check the names you like and see which are available. The other thing I made sure to check was to see if the website name was available.  How awful would it be to have come up with a great business name, register it with your state and then find out that the website was taken by someone else? If a website is similar in name to yours, this could potentially cause your customers to end up at the wrong website, so make sure you research your web domain thoroughly. Network Solutions will let you check several web domains at one time.

Now depending on what type of business you have decided to register as, you may need to get a tax-id number.  Your tax advisor can tell you if you will need a new tax id number.  If you are doing a sole proprietorship, then you should be able to just use your social security number. To make sure we are doing things on the straight and narrow, check with your tax advisor to be sure if you need a new tax id or not. Last thing you want to do is go to file your taxes and realize that you have a huge mess because you don’t have a tax id number.048SRS_6582

Guess what?? We are not done with tax stuff…..ughh.  The next thing on the list is to obtain a tax license from your state and/or local municipality.  What you need will depend on your location, again the state comptroller is your friend for this question.  They really are great about helping new businesses get all the information needed to get going. Find out what you need, then file all the appropriate paperwork with them to get your license. Remember also to find out what you need to charge in the form of sales tax, and what is actually taxed.  In Texas we have to charge tax on the session fee as well as any product, but some states the session fee is not taxed but products are. So make sure you know exactly what you need to charge tax for and then file your tax forms monthly or quarterly as your license dictates.

A very often overlooked step in the business process is insurance. Most homeowners policies do not cover businesses, and if you choose not to have insurance, you could actually run into problems with your homeowners insurance. “Why do I need it?’ you may ask, this scenario will hopefully help you understand why:  Your friend wants cute pictures of her kid in the park that has that really cute little waterfall. You agree and off to the park we go with your gear and little Johnny in tow. Mom says “oh how cute would it be for him to sit on that rock next to the waterfall?” (now I am not talking a huge waterfall, just one of those cute little park ones…..) She sets Johnny up on the little rock, and he falls and hits his head and falls weird on his arm breaking it. Now we are off to the emergency room where Johnny gets stitches on his head and a really cool blue cast on his arm. Your friend has a $10k deductible that they have not yet met. The bill from today runs about $7k because the doctor wanted to do a ct scan since he hit his head, along with the xrays, cast, stitches etc. If your friend is super nice you may not have to pay anything, or they could ask you to pay the deductible (since you are the professional and should have known Johnny was going to maybe fall) or they could decide to sue you for damaging their precious little Johnny (even though he was being a brat and running all over and not listening to anyone). For me I would want my insurance co to say “we got this”. Horses can certainly create reasons for insurance!!SRS_0190web

Employees…..yes or no???   Most small startup companies usually do not have any employees other than the owner(s).  If you plan on having employees, please check with your tax advisor and your state comptroller on what you need to do. Your tax advisor can help with 1099’s or W2’s depending on how you decide to deal with having employees.

Whew! I think that should keep you busy for a little while! Running a business is work, starting one is even more work, but it can be done and if done with much consideration and thought put into it should be successful and rewarding. A business plan can and should become your roadmap for the short term as well as your next 5 years.  Each year make a point to revisit your business plan and revamp and tweak where needed, you will find it an amazing tool to help you keep your business in the black. Time to get to work and make your dream a reality!

Happy Shooting!





Things Change and Change Always Happens

Things Change and Change Always Happens

So I went on a rant about “pro” horse show photographers poaching horse shows. (if you missed it go here)  Now while I am not going to rant (okay maybe a little bit) I am going to point out some things about the MWAC’s (Moms With A Camera) and others at horse shows and well everywhere. Perhaps MWAC is not the best term as that has an awful lot of negative connotations around it. (Thanks to MCP Actions’ Guest Blogger for pointing that out.)

Things change and change always happens.  Technology has made digital cameras more readily available with their prices coming down and technology going up.  It is the way of the world, and yet many photographers are trying to fight this change.  I have news for you guys – you can’t.   Whenever you have technology come down in price, then the amount of that item out in the general public goes up.  Remember the time before cell phones??? (yeah I am old – get over it…) The only ones who had them where the elite business people.  Prices started coming down and then we saw lots of adults who had cell phones, prices came down some more and now they are every where.  Even grade school kids have them!  So what makes camera equipment any different? News flash….it’s not.

So now we have a whole lot of people running around with the entry level DSLR to the pro level cameras.  And all of a sudden everyone wants to be a professional photographer….”I have always wanted to be a photographer”, “Now that cameras are cheap I can become a pro” and the list goes on. Really I am not against this!!   What I am against are those that do not have enough respect for those that are professionals and trying to make a living with their photography. On the flip side, I am also against those pros that bash on the newcomers.  Now before you start throwing things at your computer screen or screaming at me about this, hear me out.

All of us, not just a select few, but ALL of us had to start somewhere.  Each of us had to learn how to use our cameras, how to sell ourselves and our work, even how to price said work.  Each of us has done some kind of photo work for free (or dang close to it – so go ahead and admit it) to get photos in our portfolios or just to learn.  There is a time, a place and a way to do this.  Am I an expert at how those things need to get done? Heck no, but I do know there needs to be some respect from the up and comers towards the pros and from the old pros to the up and comers.

Instead of tearing down the new photographers, lets give them some advice and guidance.  Point them to a local meet-up  group, offer mentoring sessions, or workshops don’t just start telling them how awful they are.  Will some of these new photographers turn you down? Of course!  There are always those out there that feel they know everything. Not everyone is open to learning new things.  And there really is plenty of photography work to go around. If you are a professional, you better be on the cutting edge of your field (horse show, portrait, weddings, pet, etc.) both artistically and mechanically. That is what sets you apart form the up and coming photographers.  Now, I did not say drop your prices, if your work is good and you have great customer service skills you should be ok. I also did not say that poaching horse show is ok – it is NOT.

New photographers, most of you could stand to take someone up on mentoring, or perhaps take some business courses at the local community college…..what?? Business classes??  YES!!!  (or the SBA) If you are going to do portraits, horse shows or whatever kind of photography and plan on making any money at it, then you need to remember that it is a business!  If you want your photography to be a hobby, then pay attention to what else is coming in this post…you may learn a thing or two.

Many new “pro” photographers think that the photography world is just point your camera and take pictures, everyone will love them and buy them. Guess again, while you may post your pictures on Facebook and get 30 people to like the photo, and your mom telling you how great it is, it may not really be that good.  Our Moms love us, remember those finger paintings you did in grade school that she showed to all her friends…..yeah, she still does that, only now she uses your photos. Now, I am not saying you don’t take great shots, perhaps you do, but our friends on Facebook and elsewhere may see our work though rose colored glasses. And yeah it stings when someone critiques your work, but you will learn from it and grow from it, so be open to it.  Heck be brave and ask for honest criticism, you may not like what everyone says, but someone may give you some great insight on how to make your shots better.

And remember those business classes I said you should look into?  Trust me most of a photographer’s work is not and I repeat is not taking pictures. It is running your business.  There are invoices to be done, websites to maintain, gear to be cleaned and taken care of, there is bookkeeping, oh and the editing, ordering and delivering of your wonderful photos.  How many new photographers out there are running around shooting kids, or weddings or horse shows with out insurance or a business license???

Business licenses are required! You need to collect sales tax according to your local municipality, none of us like it, so suck it up and do it. You want to be a “professional” remember?

As for insurance, it may not be required – but it should be. Again you want to be a “professional” right? (here is where you hobbyists may want to pay attention) Let’s say you are going to shoot some children’s portraits for a friend.  The park sounds like a fun place, there could be some cute shots on that little rock waterfall or the jungle gym.  You have made all the time and date arrangements. So off you go to meet mom and child at the local park. Oh, look the little water fall would be soooo cute… you prop said child up on the little rock waterfall, and they slip and crack their head open.  Now we have blood everywhere, a screaming child that needs stitches and a mother in a panic.  Oh no worries, it was just an accident, or so you think.  Next day you are slapped with a lawsuit for the medical costs. Wait you don’t have insurance?  Hope you have a large bank account, because this is not going to go away cheaply.  I hope I have made my point. If you can get sued for something, eventually you will.

How about pricing?  You think you are not good enough to charge for your photography?  Well then you are not good enough to be a professional yet. Here is where mentoring and business classes will pay off.  Knowing your COGS is paramount to running a successful business.  If you want to price like Wal-Mart then you have created an image like them – cheap. This I think is what worries many of the older professional photographers. The new photographers that will do a session for $50 and give the customer all the images on a cd. Guess what pros, if this scares you, then you are going after the wrong customers. Think about it, do you want a customer who is so price driven that they do not care about quality or customer service?  No, this goes back to you better be an amazing photographer, who because of their artistic abilities and knowledge of how to make great pictures can command a customer that is willing to pay for it.

Horse shows – my favorite and least favorite place to see newbies that want to be pro. There are ways to go about shooting at a horse show, just showing up and shooting is not one of them.  If there is an official show photographer, they are usually contracted in some way shape or form.  And depending on the location of the show are required to carry a minimum of a 1 million dollar liability policy.  The hours of a horse show tend to be horrific (and many times the weather as well), they stand in the arena all day and many times into the night to make sure everyone has pictures of them.  Lunch? Bathroom Breaks?  Don’t be silly, the horse show has to keep moving along. Now along comes the new photographer who wants to shoot horse shows, they stand ringside (many over the officials shoulder – yep have had it happen, a lot) and happily shoot away. Many listen to the pros camera to see when to actually take the picture. (yep had that happen too…) Next thing you know they are handing out business cards to everyone or emailing them and giving the pictures away.   I will cover all of this more in another post – just wanted to give you guys a little bit of insight…(so stay tuned!)

Bottom line, there are going to be more and more new photographers coming into the photography world. The price of technology has allowed this to happen.  It is not a bad thing, it may be scary if you are not sure about your work. But if those things scare you, then you have bigger things in your own business that you need resolve. It is a small world, we all need to play nice and really why not continue to change and move forward by helping and respecting each other.

Of Horse Shows, Photographers and Poachers

Of Horse Shows, Photographers and Poachers

Being a horse show photographer has its wonderful moments. Then there are the moments where I am embarrassed and mad to be one. The Scottsdale All Arabian Horse Show is going on right now, and while the horses are beautiful and stunning to see, should other pros be there shooting it?   Rick Osteen and Howard Schatzberg of Schatzberg Photography are the “official” photographers of the horse show. Their work is amazing, they have done Arabians shows for years and have honed their craft with the utmost perfection. I know they are required to carry a hefty insurance policy naming no less than 3 organizations including city and counties as additional insureds, have overhead of employees, etc. and are there trying to make a living. I know these things because I have shot at this facility and have been required to provide the same things. On any day of the show you can stand beside any of the arenas and see countless “pro” photographers ringside happily shooting away.  Now don’t get me wrong shooting for your own personal enjoyment is one thing (people should be allowed to shoot their family – an entire barn? I don’t think so). However many of these self- proclaimed professionals are shooting and sharing on Facebook, as well as tagging anyone in the picture.  Which in essence means that they are selling their photos for $0.  Many are even handing out business cards to the people they are shooting to get them to buy the pictures (I  found one who has this blurb on his website: “Due to the sheer size of the event, I am afraid that I was not able to cover every arena and every horse at the event.” followed by a list of all the classes and photos from those classes for sale).  Here are these self-proclaimed “pros” who are coming into Rick and Howard’s work place to steal work and customers from them. Now I know many of you are going to say that the show producers should take care of these “poachers”, others are going to say that is the way it is now in the horse show world, my comment to those is “if they are professional, shouldn’t they behave that way?”

The poachers are not having to fork out money for insurance, employees at the show and cover who knows what other expenses that the official has to.   I have even found them trying to be sneaky at horse shows I have been the official at. Want to know something else???  Let me walk you through a scenario that could happen…. Perhaps Mr. Poacher scares a horse, causing the rider or the horse to get seriously hurt.  Someone happens to see Mr. Poacher with his pro equipment and says “That guy with the pro equipment caused this accident.” While Mr. Poacher may or may not get sued, I can just about guarantee that the facility and the “official” photographer will.  It is surely going to be assumed that the pro was working for the “official” since he was supposed to be the only pro there. Still not getting it?  How about this one? Let’s say you are the “official” food vendor for a sporting event, now I pay my entry fee into the park and proceed to sell hotdogs and hamburgers (heck I may even give them away).  Are you going to be ticked????  You bet, you have been required to have insurance, permits, employees etc., and here I come and cut in on your profits without having to provide any of the things you have.  The horse show photographer is no different!

The Scottsdale show is not the only horse show with this problem, just about all horse shows have this problem.The International Andalusian & Lustiano National Championship show was no different. Unfortunately there the “official” photographer Kristie Nichols Puckett of Moonfyre Photography, had to deal with a photographer who came in on a “media” pass.  While media passes are not bad, they are supposed to be for magazines, etc.  Not for that person to shoot hundreds of photos and then turn around and offer them for sale on their website or post them all over Facebook with people tagged…..so rather than buying from the official, they got free photos. This happened at the Scottsdale All Arabian Show in 2012 as well.  The person that was shooting for Arabian Horse World has all of the photos they took on their website for sale. So they got to go to the show – no insurance, no employees, etc. and shoot whatever they wanted for the magazine and then turn around and sell the photos. Were they the official? No Osteen-Schatzberg were. Not only is that unethical it is pretty immoral in my book as well.   I wonder if these photographers realize that they could be sued over this infringement?

Unfortunately I have found that this happens in other sports as well.  It just makes me mad and disgusted. Why do we as professionals insist on screwing each other?  Perhaps you may not be aware that at some point one of those people you have poached may need a second shooter.   Guess who they will not be calling???? And can you guess who’s names will be drug through the mud?  You “poachers” would not like someone coming to your horse show and behaving the way you are at the shows you are poaching….so how about we all grow up and behave professionally?





I Lost A Piece Of Me

This post is dedicated to anyone who has lost a pet

Thank you Cindy for allowing me to share this with you and for showing my heart what was in me

WeaselSRS_5026I Lost a Piece of Me

When you lose a pet you lose a part of you. Every time we give away our heart to a pet, when they leave this world, they take a piece of it with them.

That piece that we gave willing and freely. It will remain with them forever and yet a piece of them remains with you as well.

A piece that is yours and only yours. It holds a special place within you, a place of love and peace, and that piece in turn holds all those fond memories that you have of them.

Memories that you will call upon and cherish for the rest of your life.

And when you are ready, another animal will come along and you shall accept it as you have the ones that have gone before, and it too will own a piece of your heart, and you theirs.

Yet while we are so busy loving and grieving when one leaves us behind, we do not realize what is happening to our heart.

Yes it is in a million pieces but when our heart slowly comes back together and it is done with all the original pieces yet one more.

That one piece that makes our heart just a bit bigger allowing for you to give freely again without losing the ones that are held by others.

And the cycle shall continue and our hearts shall grow and continue to love even though so many pieces belong to so many others.


-Suzanne Sylvester


End of Season Sale

End Of Season Sale

Hi Everyone!!!


We are getting ready to delete old galleries to make room for the fall shows!! So to make your choices a bit easier for you we are offering 15 images on a CD for $250.00. They are fully edited images that you can print, email, use on Facebook, or a multitude of other things. About the only thing you can not do with them is change them or resell them.


This offer is only available to the galleries that have a “Year End” tab in the pricing section. If you happen to choose an image that is not in a sale gallery, you will be asked to choose another image. Once you have placed your order via the internet, we will email you an order sheet on which to list your deisred images. Simply email the form back and we will get started on your images. Please note that due to high volume it may take 3-4 weeks for your order to be completed.


This offer is only good until November 1, so be sure to get your orders in, because after that this deal will be gone.




S. Sylvester Photography



Comfort and Peace

Comfort and Peace

I learned some thing about myself this last week.  Photography has always been a passion for me (bordering on obsession….lol). Yet last week I became aware that it was something more, way more.  It is a place I can go and find comfort and peace.

The week started as any other, home from a horse show and processing photos – LOTS of photos.  Then Tuesday night the call came that my Grandmother was in the hospital and not expected to make it through the night. She was 87 with Alzheimer’s that was taking over more and more everyday. By Wednesday evening I was in Denver and with my family at her side she was hanging in there, but unresponsive. We sat with her Wednesday, and well into the evening Thursday, before heading home to get some rest.  She found her peace early Friday morning (only a few hours after we had left her), and made her own journey home, I could not ask for more for her. Although my heart was breaking for my Grandfather who had been married to her for 70 years. Wow 70 years, unbelievable, here is a man who took his vows to heart.  He promised to take care of her for the rest of their lives, and well he did. He may have needed help at times, but he truly took that vow to the end.

It is said very often that dying is harder on the ones left behind than the person who dies. After having gone through this, I now have a better understanding of this. I miss her dearly, but I also know her body is now healed and she can keep a watchful eye on her family.  She always did have eyes in the back of her head, and now , well she really does see everything. So I guess I best behave….

The rest of the afternoon we spent as a family together, eating, laughing telling stories of all of our adventures with Grandma.  You know I learned a lot about her that day to.  Stories that I had never heard before. It was actually very enjoyable despite the circumstances.

I had brought my camera with me to Denver (I really do take it everywhere…lol) and I am so glad that I did. My Aunt  has beautiful flowers blooming in her garden right now, and lots of birds sitting on nests, and just a photographers heaven.  Off I went in search of the perfect photo, here I was wandering around the yard in awe of all the beauty, (thanks to my Uncle  for pointing out all the nests…). Then it all came rushing in to my thoughts, that all was ok, I was at peace knowing grandma was in a better place. I felt ok with my camera in hand, and photographing the things that my Grandmother loved so much.  Birds and flowers were passions for my grandmother, every spring/summer she would spend hours and hours with her gardens, and she always made them welcoming for the birds.  (Ok so they weren’t very welcome in the strawberries.) She also had an amazing collection of porcelain birds, I can remember giving them to her for birthdays and christmas and the were all displayed proudly throughout the house.  She could tell you what species they all were while you were watching the live ones from the kitchen window or the patio or the porcelain ones perched throughout the house.  Flowers for her were no different, she knew them all and how to make them grow perfectly, her gardens were always the envy of others.

So now when I photograph birds and flowers it is with a different perspective.  I want to show Grandma that I now see more of what she saw, and I like to belive that perhaps she is helping me find the shots to take of her favorite things. My photography took a turn last week, and I have my Grandmother to thank for that. So Grandma the images on this page are for you…..