After a career mentor convinced her that she could combine her passion of horses and photography, Hannah Freeland now travels the world doing equine portraiture and photographing equestrian stars, all attracted to the whole photography experience she offers.
“I’ve always had a camera in my hand, but I assumed that you couldn’t have a full–time job you love that combines all of your passions. Then 10 years ago I was really lucky that a great friend bought me a mentor to kick my arse weekly for a year. My friend said ‘look, you’re wasting talent here, you’ve got to create a full time equine photography business’. And that’s what I did.
“About 99.99% of my work is private portraits and 0.1% commercial work for some really lovely clients that I do about four or five times a year. The whole point of hiring me is to create artwork that will last for generations, the sort of thing mummies can pass to their daughters and they can pass to their daughters so they can see Granny with her pony.
“I also offer a whole experience. After the photo shoot has happened and I’ve edited the photos, I then either travel back to the client’s home or the client comes to me and we look through the images together on my big screen. We start off with a beautiful slide show to music and then we go through the images one by one. My clients then order frames, albums and prints. The digital versions are secondary; it’s all about getting these images on the wall, not stuck on an iPad.
“I travel a lot around the globe and am booked up for over a year, but that’s taken 10 years of proper hustle and graft and connecting with amazing people. I strongly believe that word of mouth is the strongest form of marketing. This is where collaborations work. I collaborate with trainers or top top players within a certain discipline, because once they see what I can do and the experience they get then they start telling followers, who trust them, about me. With my most recent collaborator, I gifted him a couple of big frames, an album and some digitals for him to use on social media, which is a package worth about £3,500.
“One of the highlights of my career so far was working alongside Harry Meade for three years, capturing everything behind the scenes as well as in front, (you have to run like a blue-arsed fly around the cross-country course to photograph six horses). Harry used a lot of the photos for his blog and social media. And his sponsors loved them so they got a lot of the photos – those shots of putting the saddle cloth on or the bridle that’s been sponsored are always very popular. I gave Equus Leather, who used to sponsor Harry, some lovely dog collar shots from when his dog was fast asleep in the lorry doorway.”
Top tip for posing in a photo shoot with your horse:
“It’s all about relaxing and having fun.”
Top tip for taking a picture of your horse:
“Don’t have a busy background so avoid anything like a tree or telegraph pole or a fence coming out of the horse’s head or back
“Also try and get the horse to relax and bend. Bends are so beautiful in horses. Get your horse in position and make your feet move, because your horse will absolutely watch what you’re doing and as they bend their neck to follow you, you’ll see that beautiful bend, and that muzzle will come out so stunningly.”