At last, it was time for another photo shoot with the famous Sherry Smith! This time instead of me traveling to Arkansas, she came to Kansas to capture the beautiful Flint Hills and some of my favorite horses. We originally had hoped to catch some authentic sunflowers for this final shoot but couldn’t quite make that happen. Having Sherry come to Kansas at any point was the top priority and we finally had a date that worked for both of us. The icing on the cake was her assistant, Ryan Clawson, who was on standby and he made the journey with her as well. I was excited to have extra eyes on the set to guarantee to most spectacular photos. If you have been following along on my social media you have seen countless pictures taken by Sherry Smith. I knew it would be hard to capture even better photos this time around.
Sherry and Ryan arrived the evening before the shoot. We all loaded up and I drove them around Council Grove, the quaint little town I currently call home. We contemplated all the spots we could shoot the next day and eventually narrowed it down to a handful. Picking out the locations to shoot and what outfits go best with each place is just the start and definitely can be a deal breaker. Not even just those details but also what time of day we can get the best photos in the places we chose. A lot more planning goes into it than you would ever expect. We finally called it a day because a queen needs her beauty sleep before a big photo shoot.
The morning of a photo shoot there are many last minute adjustments. One of the main details is making sure each horse is clean especially when you have a palomino and white paint. We had multiple props for the sets needing to be packed up and of course making sure every outfit was perfectly pressed! Thankfully I had the help of my Aunt Sara to assist with all the day of preparations.
We started out in the barn and we took photos that the sun was too harsh for outside. This was very handy to make the most of our time. Then we moved outside in the shade of the barn and took some of my favorite photos inside my Dad’s silver and red 1959 Chevrolet pickup. After wrapping up there, we went over to the lake for a change of scenery. Then back for more pictures on the ranch amongst the beautiful Flint Hills. To my surprise, while shooting a group shot with three of my horses, we were able to catch all of their attention at once with a special trick. We played the sound of a horse neighing on a phone and sure enough it worked like a charm! They all had their ears perked and straight at the camera. If you have ever tried to take pictures with even just one horse you know the struggle of getting them to “pose”.
It was very special to be able to have multiple sentimental items to use in the sets of my shoot. It was important to me to include both of my Dad’s Chevrolet’s and three of my own horses. I also took a picture with a stuffed animal that was my cousin DJ’s. It was almost like having her with me for the final capture of my year as Miss Rodeo USA. One final detail of the day was taking a photo with my great grandmother’s sewing machine. As many of you know I love to sew and getting to capture a photo with this machine was extra special because it showcases the individuality that I have as a rodeo queen that can sew her own clothing! Pictures already capture beautiful memories for a lifetime but they also mean so much more with the added details of special mementoes.
We finally called it a wrap on a full day of taking over 1,700 photos in 6 hours! When you put it like that, it seems very grueling but the day honestly went so fast! I didn’t realize how many hours had gone by until my stomach started to growl or how many outfit changes I had until I started to hang up each outfit and store all my jewelry back into its place. I easily made 15 different outfit changes by the end of our session. Luckily with a great plan like we had, it was amazing what we were able to accomplish in one day!
Maybe the most important part of all was the amount of times Ryan had everyone rolling on the ground with laughter. He is an entertainer by trade and most certainly made everyone smile all day. That wasn’t his only contribution though. Ryan truly was helpful in creating beautiful poses for each set. Sherry and Ryan are the perfect pair in setting the scene and capturing each shot with complete perfection. I was blown away when I first glanced through all the photos. It definitely was hard to narrow down my favorites from the day!
Miss Rodeo USA 2020
Brooke’s Bloopers: As we were navigating on the edge of the lake to capture one of my sponsored outfits I realized there were a good amount of mossy rocks I was stepping on. It registered to me I should be careful or I might fall right into the water. Just as that thought crossed my mind I felt my foot slip! As lucky as I tend to be in the most unlucky situations I managed to keep my footing. No lake swimming for me in October! Can you imagine how cold that water would have been?!
Queens Corner: Sometimes it takes a second set of eyes to make the perfect outfit for a photo shoot. At first glance an outfit that might seem perfect might not photograph as well. Things to help with this are accenting with a good amount of jewelry. I will say, there is always a time and a place for a simple necklace but if it is part of the outfit that needs to be seen make sure you layer it on. If you have certain sponsored items that need to be seen in a photo make sure they pop with whatever you are wearing. It is also important that your makeup is also a bit heavier and darker to be seen in the photo so your features pop! Preparation is key to everything when looking to get the perfect photo. These steps will help you create those moments.