Outerwear Outtakes

One of the biggest challenges of catalog and internet marketing is conveying to folks what a product looks and feels like, accurately. If my written description is lame or boring, and my pictures are crummy, the stuff doesn’t sell. But it’s possible to go the other way, too, and present an item in such an unrealistic manner that the customer is disappointed when they receive it. Like Goldilocks, I strive for just right.

Most years I’m able to bungle through my HoofPrints photography needs with a modest point and shoot camera, and a whole lot of fixing up in Photoshop. Most photography sessions take place on the deck outside my house, where it is nice and bright, but the sun is obstructed so there aren’t harsh shadows. I arrange products neatly on a plain grey background that later is stripped out and made white so I can place items in close proximity on the printed page.

Not this year. The new sweatshirt that I was most excited about looked positively horrid in my pictures. My normal way of photographing garments laying flat on the grey cardboard just wasn’t cutting it. My star product looked tubular and frumpy. Just plain weird. The main selling point is the sweatshirt is the extra length that covers your fanny – but the flat pictures instead made it look like the sleeves are extra short.©OliveLONGsweat

The manufacturer’s photos weren’t any better. In fact, they’re so unremarkable that it’s a miracle that I was even compelled to order a sample in the first place.

©FL688_army green

Deadlines have a way of bringing out the resourcefulness in me, and so it went. I needed a live model to display this sweatshirt in all of it’s butt-covering glory. So – about two days before the flyer was due at the printer, I hatched a scheme. I called up my photographer friend Lauren Duncan and asked her if she knew of any young, horsey gals who could wear a size Medium (the only size I had on hand).

Photo of Lauren Duncan by Brittany Henderson

Now, calling up a photographer and asking for photos to be taken virtually instantly and expect them to come up with a suitable model, too, is an exceptionally ridiculous expectation. Lauren did not know of any prospects that could wear that garment, but she was able to make time to take some photos for me if I could sort out the rest of the details.

Time was running out and I was desperate, so I realized that my only remaining option for a model is this greying, older woman that I know. Me.

What happened next was a bit of a circus

Wait, it IS my circus… To order the mug, click here
Using Karen Ann Kennedy‘s criteria, I was able to determine that in this case, the circus and the monkeys were, indeed, ALL MINE. Here’s what she says:
“Over the years I have found myself being sucked in to all kinds of drama that I had no business being in. There were so many times when I caused myself unnecessary stress by worrying about something that didn’t concern me. It takes a lot of strength to pull back from things that are going on around you, but I urge you to try! When you find yourself getting sucked in to another person’s circus, stop and ask yourself this:
1. Does this situation really involve me? (Yup)
2. If the situation doesn’t really involve me, what is my motivation for getting involved? (See #1 + I need to sell products so I can buy groceries, horse and dog food)
3. What will it cost me to get involved? We’re talking time, money, stress, etc. <—all of these
4. Can I really bring something to the table that will help all parties get to a better resolution? (I sure hope so!)
5. What will happen if I decline to participate in this situation?” (Horsewomen all over the country will have cold butts this Fall because they won’t know how wonderful this jacket is)

And it was also a whole lot of fun.

Since the embroidered logo is Barn Girl, it seemed a bale of hay and a hungry horse were in order.

Being the pro that she is, Lauren was snapping pictures the whole time I readied things. If I’d realized that at the time, I would have tried to look a little more pleasant as I wrestled a bale through the awkward door of our grain-bin-turned-hay-storage facility.
Allie did her part, dutifully snarfing hay the whole time.
Billy‘s mostly toothless these days, so the hay was just a prop for him; his meals normally consist of soaked beet pulp and alfalfa pellets. Hard to believe he’s been with us for 10 years.

I’d pulled back my obstreperous purple hair in a braid so it wouldn’t show in the pictures, but Lauren captured it anyway. The collar is a bit scrunched up in this shot, but I think it accentuates what a warm and snuggly affair this jacket really is.

I am not sure what the heck is going on with my left hand, but this picture does show the fanny covering length on this jacket and the fact that the sleeves are adequate. I have long arms so sleeve length is often an issue for me. Not the case with this garment.
Maybe the folks at Orvis can make a shaking dog look sporty and outdoorsy, but here, not so much. Explaining the hot pink spike collar on an aging, amicable Black Lab is complicated, too. Again, no clue about the arm…
Gosh, Remi looks pretty scary here, but he’s just playing. A great action shot of the sweatshirt, but spike collars and snarling dogs aren’t good marketing material.

In the end, though, there were several pictures that were exemplary of how I wanted to portray this garment. This is the one that I chose.




    • Thanks! That door is actually the door to a small grain storage bin. Probably from the 1960’s? MUCH smaller than you see on any farm these days. I think that door is only meant to be used to access the inside of the bin to clean it? When we built the horse barn, we cut a hole in the other side of the bin and connected the barn to it. It holds a couple hundred bales of hay; not the most convenient arrangement, but dry and was already here so good to use it for some purpose.


  1. Actually your “story/description” of this whole hullaballoo (spelling?) was much more colorful than any manufacturers could ever have been! And your horse’s pictures just add to it. Sadly, I already have a shirt just about the color of this one (doesnt cover my butt, tho)!
    Gloves are working out – not the warmest I’ve ever had BUT they sure do protect my hands from whatever I get into.
    Keep up the good work!!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s