Shelley Paulson Photography Blog – Minnesota Equine, Wedding and Portrait Photographer
  • January16th


    It seems to be that time of year for me, when I reflect on the past year and dream about the year that lies ahead. 2014 was full of challenges – starting a new business and learning a new craft (filmmaking) while maintaining the current one, and continued difficulties from my head injury in 2013, top the list. At the same time, it was full of a lot of joy, enriching new experiences and personal growth. I had more equestrian portrait sessions than ever, which makes me a very happy girl! I made my first films and got to see them screened at a real live Equestrian Film Festival in New York City! I learned again what it’s like to be a beginner at something and gained even more empathy for those photographers I help grow through my mentoring program.

    As I look forward to 2015, it’s going to be a year of change. It might feel a little messy right now, but I believe in where I am going and that it’s going to be very good for me, both in my career life and in my personal life. Being a small business owner and entrepreneur means that the lines between my business and personal life are often blurred, if they are there at all. I am in no way complaining, because I love my work and my personal life is very fulfilling. However, when things aren’t working on one side or the other, life fall out of balance and go bad in a hurry. That’s what the past few years have felt like for me, so I am making changes to bring them back into balance.

    So here’s the plan…

    This is a frame from a film I’m currently editing that I shot last fall.

    Fewer Weddings, More Films

    I am very excited about making more films in 2015! With several projects already in the works, I’ve made the decision to accept only a very limited number of weddings. This is an enormous change, not only in my business, but in my life, but it feels like the right time to make this shift. I have loved being a wedding photographer and have loved so many of the wonderful couples whose weddings I’ve had the privilege of documenting. I just know that I need to make room for the things that are burning in my heart right now.


    And More Horses

    Fewer weddings will also mean more time to focus on my passion – Equestrian Portrait Sessions. I am especially excited to have more of my schedule open in the fall, because last year I simply ran out of time to do all the sessions I wanted to say yes to. I will have more Saturday session times available as well, to accommodate everyone’s busy schedules.


    I did a coaching session for Jessica of Jessica Annalee Photography last summer. We had fun, can you tell?

    Helping Photographers Grow

    I was so happy to have many mentoring clients in 2014 and see real, measurable improvement in their work and in the development of their businesses. I feel like a proud mamma many days when I see how my students have grown and are thriving! I am looking forward to helping more photographers grow in 2015 through one-on-one mentoring, and also a few small group workshops/retreats I am dreaming about. I have updated my mentoring options, so visit my growtographer site to learn more.

    In addition to mentoring and workshops, one of my main goals for 2015 is to write some e-books on various photography topics such as Equestrian Portraiture, Natural Posing, Harnessing Natural Light, Workflow and others.


    And now, the other stuff…




    Speaking at the WPPI Conference in March

    I’ve been attending WPPI years, helping out at trade show booths of both Zenfolio and MpixPro, but this is my first year as an official speaker. I am going to be on a panel with two other photographers, sharing how to “Make a Successful Web Site that Sells.” Our class will be held Sunday, March 1, 2015 from 9:00 AM to 10:30 AM. Part of our panel will include a live web site critique. Personally, I will be sharing how I changed my web site content to attract people who are just like me, making them terrific clients.

    In addition to my Platform Class, I will be speaking 5 times throughout the three-day WPPI trade show at the Photoflex booth. My topic will be “Simple Lighting for Filming Interviews” (I just made this up, so it is subject to change.) I will show how to use 2 lights, a softbox, and a reflector to create good interview lighting. I will also share about how changing the angles of these lights can create different moods, depending on your film’s content. If there’s time, I will also talk about using video light for photography. Obviously this is still developing. ;)

    If you are already planning to attend WPPI, you can register for our class at
    For more information about and to register for WPPI:



    Chill Sessions

    I’ve decided to embrace winter this year instead of hiding from it. I’m offering a limited amount of outdoor “chill sessions” from now until the end of March. These are shortened from my regular sessions because, let’s face it, who wants to be out in the cold for more than 30 minutes these days? Email me if you would like to book a session.

  • December16th


    When Meg first contacted me about doing a session for her with her Off the Track Thoroughbred horse, she included this little story…

    ” I have had this horse since I was 13 or 14, he was off the race track, mean, and highly spirited. My trainer told me I was going to be riding a horse named Lucifer for the summer, and we have been inseperable ever since. His original owners ended up giving him to me on my 18th birthday because they couldnt sell him! I have never bought pictures of him, I just never bought the horse show pictures, and my parents were never able to make it shows, so I really want to capture some memories that I can hold on too forever before I have to move him.”

    Not only was I instantly excited to photograph them, but I offered Meg an extended session because I want to make a short film to tell this story of Meg’s once-in-a-lifetime horse.

    I learned a lot at this session, like that I’m not quite ready to do photos and video in the same timeframe. I ended up returning to the farm a few weeks later to get more footage to tell the story. Megan and Justin’s film is at the end of this blog post. :)

    I loved photographing these two together. They have a bond that can only be forged through many hours spent together both in the saddle and out. I especially enjoyed getting to know Megan and hear her stories. She’s a great storyteller and a just wonderful human being.























    And now, their film…

  • December10th


    I triple-dog-dare you not to smile when you look at these photos. :) Kenon and Annie are my friends, but also represent my ideal clients: emotional and expressive, completely trusting of me, and focused more on the love they share with each other, and their family and friends, than any other aspect of their wedding.

    I remember my face hurting from smiling so much while I edited this wedding. I hope yours does the same after viewing them. :)


    Annie borrowed her sister Elizabeth’s veil. I am a sucker for long veils!



    Annie is not the only expressive one! This was so fun!





    Positively radiant…


    My friend Lydia Steinke of Her Song Photographs was my second photographer for this wedding. I was beyond pleased with the many beautiful, meaningful photos she captured that day (like the ones above and below of Kenon with his mom)! If you are based in Kansas City and looking for a gifted photographer, I highly recommend Lydia!



    On her way to their first look. Check out her hands, clenched in excitement!



    So much excitement!



    Kansas City is know as “The City of Fountains.” They are everywhere and so beautiful!


    If you didn’t read my previous blog post, Kenon is a classically trained dancer. I couldn’t resist making him do this silly photo with the dancing fountain statue ladies. :)





    Another of Lydia’s beautiful photos!


    A sweet moment when Annie’s dear friend Christina kissed her so hard on the cheek, she left a lipstick mark!


    The ceremony started with 20 children walking down the aisle singing, “His love it never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me.” A magical moment!



    Kenon with Annie’s beloved brother, who they didn’t think would be able to make it, but surprised her the day before by showing up at the rehearsal.



    Could she smile any more? I don’t think so. :)



    Everyone enjoyed a beautiful time of corporate worship.





    Wes gave a great message and had everyone laughing!



    Sweet communion…







    Annie and Kenon’s reception was held at the Historic Firestone Building. One of the coolest venues I’ve ever gotten to work in!












    Gelato for dessert!



    I stole them away for a few photos on the rooftop, which overlooks downtown. The tricky part was this wall was high!





    Perfect ending to a wonderful day!