Laura McClure | Horse Family

Laura McClure – Through The Lens

 | February 11, 2015 | Reply

cameralenseBWAs an amateur photographer and someone who is passionate about horses and the equine lifestyle, I admire photographers who are able to capture the beauty & majesty of all of that, in their photographs.    I have an even deeper admiration and respect for any photographers who can use an image to actually tell a story.    It’s a rare & gifted artist who can capture and convey that in their photographs.

Several weeks ago I had the opportunity to interview and get to know an artist & photographer who uses her images to do just that.     In the next few weeks, I’m going to be sharing my interview with highly regarded Equine/Fashion Photographer, Laura McClure.

Laura has both an impressive and extensive resume when it comes to her photography and she’ll be the first person to tell you her real passion is horses.   Not only is she a gifted artist who works magic with light, she’s a beautiful soul with a passion & talent for empowering others and I know you’ll find something that resonates with you in our interview.

I can’t wait to share her work, her story and some photography tips with all of you.    Check out her websiteand FB page and you’ll see what I mean…stay tuned for more on the talented, Laura McClure!

Cindy

Laura McClure: Cowgirl Glitterarti &emdash; _DSC7302-Edit

 

The Remarkable & Talented Laura McClure – Part 1

 | March 2, 2015 | Reply

I am someone who loves photography and I have great appreciation for the artists/photographers who have the talent & passion to share images that tell a story.     Famed photographer, Laura McClure is absolutely one of those people.

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Copyright photo courtesy of Laura McClure. Photo taken during a shoot for Marrika Nakk.

Laura McClure is truly a remarkable women and an incredibly talented Western Artist / Photographer and I was honored to spend quality time talking with her recently.   She is as genuine and authentic as anyone I’ve ever had the pleasure of speaking with and that authenticity shows in her images…and in the stories her images tell.   Laura was incredibly gracious with her time and I know I could have listened and talked with her all day and it’s one of the reasons I wanted to share her story and talents with you.

Talented, genuine, authentic and passionate about horses, her photography and giving back…I think you’re going to love Laura McClure!

Following is a brief  bio and our interview follows.

Biography: 

Laura’s dad’s family lived, farmed and worked on the original major ranches around Stephenville, Matador and all over Motley and Erath County and her family is 12 generations deep which is in part, where her love for the West and everything Western comes from. It’s also one of the reasons she loves to shoot Western type shots which includes new west, funky west or old west…she believes it helps preserve and regard the history and the life she loves.

Laura’s mother’s family is from Guanajuato, Mexico and if you look at some of her work, you will see that she also loves the pageantry and colorful, styled inspiration of Mexico.   Combine her Western love and the Mexican pageantry and you’ll have an authentic Tex-Mex mix which is evident in many of her images.

An early career in modeling, gave her a rare insight into lighting, composition and the creativity necessary to make beautiful images.   She

will be quick to tell you her first love has always been horses and when you combine her modeling career, love for horses and passion for photography, it’s easy to see how her journey has lead her to a very successful career in photography.

Laura’s work has been featured in a wide-variety of publications, including: Cowgirls in Style, Dressage Today, Cowgirl Magazine, Country Life, America Quarter Association Italy, Southern Nevada Equestrian to name just a few.   In addition, her work is also highly regarded and sought after by organizations and designers including:   Marrika Nakk, Brit West, Olav Jules Designs By Cat Sandstorm, Sierra Custom Leather, Meredith Lockhardt Collections, Rods Western Wear, Platinum Performance, World of Horses, Heritage Brand Tack, Santa Fe Fashion Week and the Western Design Conference.

For a complete biography, please visit www.lauramcclurephotography.com.

 

Interview:

Q:  I think a great image has the ability to tell a story and that what your pictures tell a story and that is one of the differences between remarkable photographers & artists and hobbyists.     How do you create images that tell a story?

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Copyright photo courtesy of Brit West.

A:  You know, it’s interesting because I made friends with a photographer that shoots a lot of the Working Cow Horse Events here in San Diego and he was so kind and allowed me to go practice my moving shots.   The things that were interesting to me where different things than what he was shooting.  He’s shooting the event, which is fun but I’m not really an event photographer so I had the freedom to go shoot things that were interesting to me.   I was just walking around with my camera and I caught a guy who is a good friend,   working with the cattle behind the scenes.   He had a beautiful blue roan horse and watching him work and the scenery around him made it look like he was in Montana, not Temecula.   Don’t get me wrong, Temecula’s really pretty but this guy looked like he was working cattle on a ranch in Montana!   Then I caught a girl who came out of the arena and was taking off her horses leg wraps so I captured that.   Her chaps were beautiful, so I captured that as well and it came down to the fact that,  I saw movement and that movement was actually what I wanted to capture in an image…that movement was telling a story.   I think when you see movement and your mind goes to ‘that place’ and ultimately, you have the beginning of a story.

We have all started from the beginning, from somewhere when we started pursuing our passion or career in photography.      There are people with cameras at events who really don’t want to do more than snapshots and that’s perfectly ok.    There are other people at those events who will begin to explore, discover and broaden their horizons when it comes to their photography and that’s a good thing as well!  We each to have to pursue the things that are meaningful to us.

Q:  I’ve looked at your website which showcases your spectacular images.   How did you get started and how did you find yourself where you are today…one of the most highly-recognized, regarded and published photographers in our industry?

A:  I’ve always been creative, going back to when I was a little girl, living in Europe and attending an Episcopalian school.   I remember I got an award for being ‘artistic’ at my school and I just knew that I always wanted to be a western artist. I could draw horses & things but I wasn’t so great at drawing people.

I look back at some of the things I drew and sometimes I wish I had stuck with it but, like many of us, someone told me ‘you can’t make a living doing that….you can’t make a living being an artist’.  (I need to make a side-note here, I think it’s so important as adults that we encourage our kids to explore and purse their passions…more on that later!)

Anyway, I was always creative, I had a great imagination and I ALWAYS had a passion for horses.   I had some ‘token’ Barbie dolls I played with but I preferred and loved playing with my Breyer horses!   The whole horse thing, for me it’s been there since day one!

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Copyright photo courtesy of Laura McClure

When I was older, my family and I were living in Hong Kong and I got involved in some promotional things with horses.   I used to take a 2 hour trip, every day to go ride because my first, true passion is horses.   I started doing commercials and over the years, I dabbled in that a little bit.   I didn’t feel like I was the prettiest or the skinniest but I was always interested in making good images.   I would listen to the photographers talk about composition and light and I learned so much from just listening.

In 2000, I was living in Las Vegas and I took my horse with me to a photo shoot and at that time, you didn’t see a lot of that!      I had my horse, my black gown and I decided we were going to go to a dry lake bed and do a shoot.   It was so much fun and I was fascinated with creating images in that environment.

Part 2 of our interview with Laura McClure is available by clicking here.

Copyright Photos courtesy of Laura McClure / Laura McClure Photography

Facebook – Visit Laura McClure on Facebook
Website – Visit Laura McClure Photography / Photos by Laura M

 

The Remarkable & Talented Laura McClure – Part 2

 | March 3, 2015 | 2 Replies

Laura McClure – Part 2 (continued…Read Part 1 of this interview, here)

My daughter was reaching high school age and I didn’t want to raise her in Las Vegas, so we moved.   We were heading to Tuscon where I was planning on taking my stallion to visit a friends dude ranch for the weekend, to get away.   On the way, we went thru a small town in AZ called Wickenberg and it was the cutest little town!   I went to the Cowboy Café, now called Spurs and saw an ad for a job on a recovery ranch, so I applied and two weeks later, I was working and living in Wickenberg!

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Photo Courtesy of Laura McClure

I had my job, my daughter was starting high school and I decided to start a website which was designed for riding/marketing/selling horses, to supplement my income.   I didn’t have a professional grade camera, so I started off with a simple point-and-shoot camera and I started taking pictures of sale horses for the website.

After Wickenberg (and subsequently Dewey Arizona, a smaller town outside of Prescott) I moved to Phoenix where the job opportunities were so much better. (The icing on the cake is, that Phoenix is also where I met my husband!)   While I lived in Phoenix , I purchased a professional grade camera which as it turns out was way over my head so I did the logical thing, I decided to LEARN how to use it.   I joined several photography clubs, photography groups and organizations and I learned a great deal just by being involved.

After several years in Phoenix, my husband and I moved to Chicago and I took advantage of all the workshops and professionals that resided in Chicago.   I attended workshops and was very involved in the photography. The market in Chicago was focused more on glamor than horses or western life, but that is where I came up with the idea of Cowgirl Glitterati and that’s when I started focusing on shooting girls and horses.

I began travelling back West frequently, because I knew a lot more barrel racers and western people back there, I loved shooting images of them.   I noticed a lot of the girls I was shooting, simply didn’t have the clothes.   Don’t get me wrong, tee-shirt pictures are good but sometimes you want to do something really fantastic and it takes different clothing so I contacted “Cowgirl Kim”.

Cowgirl Kim was amazing and so gracious and we worked out an arrangement where I provided the models and the photographs and she provided the clothing.   Who doesn’t feel pretty in beautiful clothes?     It was like Christmas when we received boxes of apparel from her and then the fun began…figuring out how we were going to present it.   I found I liked working with many of the same models because it was easy to establish a rhythm that worked and I got really good at doing ‘catalog’ shoots.   I really enjoyed the experience but I wanted to expand my knowledge so I decided to get a little more creative and get into more ‘editorial’ shooting.

One thing I began studying at this point in my career was the off-camera flash.   When shooting outdoors, I always liked to shoot with natural light but sometimes, you can’t.   I began studying Joe McNally and learned more about being creative and capturing the light. I discovered you can make everyone look good, in good light and bad lighting can make anyone look bad and that is so important to good photography.  It’s challenging to know where the lighting will fall, what’s the timing of the light, those things.   With off-camera lighting, you can put someone in the shade and use the off camera lights to your advantage and I liked that.

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Photo Courtesy of Laura McClure

With horses, it can be challenging because the lights are small so consequently, I have lots of lights.   Sometimes I look like a one-man-band when I’m traveling or setting up for a photo shoot!   It is so interesting to be on this journey because I find I am very critical of my own work.   I remember when I was barrel racing years ago, I always thought the more I raced, the more natural and easier it would become and that wasn’t necessarily the case – in fact the opposite! The more you know, it actually is harder because there are so many more things to think about.   There are sometimes when I’m at a shoot, that I’m afraid I forgot HOW!

It’s great to be published but honestly, I do this more for the girls I work with.   I take them in and they become somewhat like daughters to me.     I love working with and helping nice people.   Sometimes I do shoots with girls and my only goal is to help promote them, and to try to get them a cover because that’s FUN for me to do that for them and incredibly exciting!   I love it that of ‘my girls’ is now modeling for Gypsy Soule and another is runner up in Miss Rodeo America this year!

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Photo Courtesy of Laura McClure

I’m here because I do what I do, for the LOVE of it.   It’s a very competitive, tough profession I’ve chosen.    I’m fortunate because I get to pick and choose what I do and if it’s not any fun, I don’t do it.   It’s important for me to throw everything I have into my shoots not just go through the mechanics of shooting.   My work feeds my soul but I have to say, in the end…I love photography but my passion remains horses.

I would love to do something that combines my passion for horses and my love for photography.   I’m hoping to get in on a cattle drive this summer where I can capture not only the essence of the cattle drive, but of the campfires, the horses and things that tell a story.     I want to keep doing the fashion and the cowgirl shoots but I also want to expand and do a little more traditional work as well.   I sometimes hear people say things like “That’s not a real cowgirl” simply because of how they’re dressed.   I say, EMBRACE IT!   I believe that what you practice, you become.   Embrace the fact that a Cowgirl can look like she just stepped off the runway OR she can be makeup-less and riding a horse, either way, she’s a COWGIRL.   We are all so multi-dimensional and I think it’s important to capture that.

Another important thing for me is this:   When I shoot my girls, I want them to be feminine but powerful.   I want them to project power and strength in themselves.   I really enjoy photographing STRONG women.   I think that’s empowering and I think it’s important.

I think everyone has family situations that involve addictions, illness, abuse.   It would be really awesome to get pictures of some of the people who have survived those things.   I’d love to have dramatic lighting, great backgrounds, amazing clothing, horses and just make it a beautiful setting where I could take someone’s picture and give it to them so they could see their own strength, their own power.   To me, that would be really rewarding and how amazing would it be to give them a picture to symbolize what they have accomplished!   A picture they could look at every day, regardless of what’s going on, that see that they ARE Strong and they ARE powerful!

I’d like to have pictures of strong women, with horses that little girls could look up to and say “I want to be like that!”.   Maybe my pictures can inspire other people, like so many pictures have inspired me.

Copyright Photos courtesy of Laura McClure / Laura McClure Photography

Facebook – Visit Laura McClure on Facebook
Website – Visit Laura McClure Photography / Photos by Laura M

 

The Remarkable & Talented Laura McClure – Part 3

 | March 5, 2015 | Reply

Q:  What would you tell a young person, passionate about horses and photography, that wants to follow in your footsteps?

A:  There are so many resources out there, take advantage of them!     Get involved with Photoshop groups, find a photographer willing to assist you, to teach you.   Be a phenomenal assistant to a photographer you admire.   I will still assist other photographers because you can always learn something.   There are lots of training programs that are accessible online like the Kelby Training, one of my favorites. Work with other photographers and when you become a photographer, do the same thing for other photographers who are coming up the same way you did.     Give back and help other people.

2013_07_01__DSC7561-EditHFQ:  What about people who say: “Don’t go into photography, you’ll never make any money at it”.     

 A:  Not everyone is cut out to be an attorney, doctor or teacher. We’re all designed to be unique and I think it’s important to ENCOURAGE people to pursue their dreams and passions.     It can be hard to make money as a photographer but I’ve found that one thing leads to another and it’s a journey, it’s the path you’re on.   Even if you have a full-time job doing something else, the passion you have for shooting photographs can be incredibly fulfilling, even if you’re doing it as a hobby.

The things you’re passionate about take practice and hard-work and there are always new things to learn.  Not everyone is going to like your work and that’s ok…just be TRUE to your WORK. We shouldn’t all shoot things the same way. Learn the rules and then break them.   Shoot the hard things.   I shoot things all the time and think, “This is either not going to turn out well, or it’s going to be great!” Take chances. Go out there and do it. Maybe you won’t make a living at it and maybe you’ll have to be working at another job while you pursue it but that’s ok, just continue pursuing your passion.

Q:  In today’s world, it seems everyone has a digital camera. What you do as a professional photographer is very involved and very different than what most amateur and hobbyist people with digital cameras do.   How do you explain the differences? 

A:  It does seem that more and more people have nice digital cameras and editing software but in today’s world, it takes a lot to get a really good, high-res image.   It seems like the internet has made it easy to accept, “good enough is good enough”.

Photo Courtesy of Laura McClure Photography

Photo Courtesy of Laura McClure Photography

Q: What would you say to someone with a point and shoot camera, they can’t afford anything else.

A:   I started with a point and shoot and it was a great place to start!  Learn composition and learn about light.   There are some terrific point-and-shoot camera’s out there and even iphones have amazing resolutions when it comes to photographs!   They may not blow up into billboards but…do you really need them to be?   Take pictures and enjoy yourself!   Get some experience. Don’t go out and buy an expensive camera if you’re not sure that you want to be a photographer. Use what you have and just start shooting….take it one step at a time.


Q:  What would you say to parents who have a child who want to be a photographer?

 A:  Encourage it!    Photography is something GOOD for children to do and there are so many things that aren’t.   It will give them a focus.   My daughter used to take pictures of hot dogs and I’d say “A hot dog, REALLY?!” but she loved doing it and so I encouraged it! It’s like finger-painting when they’re in Kindergarten…. let them do it and have fun and let them learn as they go!   We all need something that’s fulfilling and something we can focus on so encourage them and be interested in what they’re doing.

Q:  What would you say to parents & kids about finding resources in their area:

 A:  I recommend Kelby One Training classes and I know a lot of the Community Centers offer photographer classes as well.      Check with your Jr and Sr High Schools to see if they offer photography classes.   Also, High School Yearbooks Staffs are always looking for photographers and that is another great place to start!   And if there isn’t a photography club around you, START ONE! Be creative, ask other photographers in your area to be involved, to help!

Copyright Photos courtesy of Laura McClure / Laura McClure Photography

Facebook – Visit Laura McClure on Facebook
Website – Visit Laura McClure Photography / Photos by Laura M

 

The Remarkable & Talented Laura McClure – Part 4

 | March 6, 2015 | Reply

Q:  What is the biggest challenge you face when you’re shooting?

Photo Courtesy of Laura McClure

Photo Courtesy of Laura McClure

A:  It’s hard to get a good shot sometimes because if the model looks good, the horse might be moving or if the horse is perfect, the model might not be ready.   It’s challenging when you’re shooting with animals involved.   I always tell people to NOT fight the horse too much because once the horse gets mad, it’s over!   Be creative…if the horse puts it’s head down, use that time to do a kneeling shot.   Let the horse dictate the shoot, just a little bit.   I like to have a separate person working with the horse if possible. Getting their ears up, feet in the right place, head up, tail quiet, it takes some work!

I have to think about the location, the lighting, where the light will fall, those kinds of things.    I have to plan for equipment failure and you have to have a Plan B.   It’s all about problem solving.   I have to think about ISO, Aperture, Shutter Speed and so many other things but I do think the images turn out better when all those things are being controlled manually as opposed to being on Automatic.   It’s hard sometimes to make it all work together!

When you’re at a shoot and people are looking at you, you have to think fast.   You HAVE to be thinking about shutter speeds, is the horse moving, is the location right, where is the light.   It’s not automatic, it takes thought, and it’s not always easy to get the results you want.   You’ve got to learn to trust what you’re doing. As long as your histogram isn’t all the way on the left or right, you’re off to a good start.

Q:  In all of the images that you’ve shot, do you have a favorite?

 A:   I love the one on my banner with a young lady with a buckskin horse. Clothes were Cowgirl Kim, she had a Rockin vintage guitar on the river in Mesa, AZ. It was 120 degrees, there were wild horses around us coming to the river to drink.  A hobby photographer came to watch the shoot and ended up helping us out. Everything just came together and I got some beautiful shots that day! Another favorite was one that got a two page spread in Cowgirl Magazine. We were in the desert in Nevada against red rocks, a more artsy photo. Then my latest shoot, which I still am editing, of my old wedding dress on my model with her gray Arabian against the sunset here in San Diego… it’s kind of magical.

Copyright Photos courtesy of Laura McClure / Laura McClure Photography

Facebook – Visit Laura McClure on Facebook
Website – Visit Laura McClure Photography / Photos by Laura