Courtney & Junior | Buffalo, MN | Mentoring with Shelley Paulson

girl kissing her horse in the sun

I can’t even begin to tell you guys how excited I am to share this post and these photos with you. But before I share, a quick background on the situation. I promise I won’t take too long. 😉 TLDR: My mentoring with Shelley Paulson has impacted me in so many incredible ways, and I’m so lucky I have the opportunity to work with and learn from her.

When I began taking photos of horses, I came across the work of Shelley Paulson and was absolutely stunned. Her work is the epitome of timeless, meaningful, genuine and beautiful and her images just blew me away. You look at her work and feel the moment that she’s captured – they’re not just pretty pictures, but each one tells a story. And her work is technically flawless – thoughtfully composed, properly exposed and balanced, no gimmicks or filters or tricks.  While I have dabbled with using different effects and filters on my photos, I’ve never been quite satisfied with the results, and seeing her work reinforced my belief that I needed to focus on a more natural, timeless style. I believe photographs should be timeless – when you pick up your photo album in 20 years to reminisce over the photos, you shouldn’t be distracted by weird filters or effects on the photos.

Being mostly self-taught, I’ve worked my hardest to try to achieve this feeling in my work but knew that I needed guidance and mentoring if I wanted to really start to see a difference in my work. When I began my search for a mentor, my first thought was “SHELLEY!” But I’m in New Jersey and Shelley is in Minnesota, and that just didn’t seem feasible. I looked around locally to find a suitable mentor, but my search was unsuccessful. When I finally sat down with my husband and asked him for advice, his response was immediate: “Go work with Shelley. Don’t overthink it.” So I did. Fast forward a few months and I found myself in Minnesota, alongside the photographer who has had the single biggest impact on my photography. Through her growtographerâ„¢ mentoring program, I signed up for a growshopâ„¢ mentoring session and was able to learn and work alongside Shelley. In addition to a day of intensive one-on-one mentoring with Shelley Paulson, I had the opportunity to shoot alongside her during her photo session with Courtney and Junior. So I did it – I made an investment in my education and in myself as a photographer and I can truthfully say it was a life changing experience for me. Having a guide, a mentor, someone who can look at my work and give me honest, constructive criticism and then give me the tools I need to improve my photography has been invaluable.

So here they are – the photos I shot alongside Shelley during Courtney and Junior’s photo session. A huge thank you to both Courtney and Shelley for an amazing few days in Minnesota, my trip was incredible. Also a big thank you to Shelley’s mare, Maggie Sue, who kindly, sweetly, and gently welcomed me to Minnesota with a fun and relaxing ride and helped me calm my nerves! Nothing like a sunset ride on an amazing horse to put things right in the world.

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