Teenager Morgan Lance has a head start on her future career. She is turning her interest in photography and horses into a lucrative enterprise.
“Photography has been something that I have done from very early on in my life,” Lance said. “I was probably 8 or 9 when I got behind a digital camera for the first time. I used to dress up our dog, Toby, and have a photo shoot with him. Something must have stuck because I am still taking pictures today.”
The rural Holmen teen is a junior in the West Salem School District, spending most of her time in the high school’s art department.
Lance says she became really serious about photography about three years ago when her parents gave her a Nikon D3500 as a Christmas gift. She still uses the camera.
“Things really got rolling that spring and summer when I got to take photos at the Spooner Rodeo and at the WiFQHA (Wisconsin Foundation Quarter Horse Association) show,” Lance said. “Before I knew it, I had a website, Facebook page and an Instagram (account). I have been really fortunate to have the support of my family and art teachers at school.”
Her favorite subjects are animals. She has a special connection with horses and dogs and credits them with helping her deal with anxiety and building confidence. To give back to the animals, she photographs adoptable dogs with the New Leash on Life Dog Rescue in La Crosse.
In addition to photographing animals, Lance has turned her lens on other subjects.
“Rodeos and horse shows would definitely be my favorite events to photograph, but I do a whole lot more,” Lance said. “This year I got the opportunity to do my first set of wedding photos. I also like to take photos of my friends, the wildlife in the area and any scenery or curious objects that catch my eyes.”
She recommends other youth get into animal photography, but she advises novices to not expect too much in the beginning.
“I would encourage them to share their photos with family and friends,” Lance said. “Getting support from the people around you can be very encouraging. I definitely don’t think that I would have pursued this business if I never shared my very first photos with the people around me.”
She started out taking photos of plants and other stationary objects because they allowed her to figure out the camera settings to get the best images.
“Once you get your camera figured out, animals are really fun to take photos of,” Lance said. “The tricky part with capturing shots of animals is the fact that they move and can sometimes be unpredictable.”
She recommends having an assistant when taking photos of pets to make sure the animals are looking at the camera and the photographer has their attention.
Last year, Lance took photos for a show directory and is using the photos she took at rodeos to create a profile for her business with the hope she will someday be hired to cover rodeos.
“That is one of my many goals as a photographer,” Lance said. “On the other hand, I specifically take photos at horse shows for people to buy and share with their friends. These photos tend to be the most popular on my website.”
Operating under her business name, Spur’n R Photos, Lance admits it took some time to select a name after toying around with a variety of ideas.
“I eventually came up with Spur’n R Photos,” said Lance. “The inspiration for this name comes from my horse, Rowdy; this is where the “R” comes from. The ‘Spur’n’ part comes from the fact that I wanted to add the western/rodeo vibe to the name. Rowdy was also a very lazy horse when he was younger, so I had to use spurs as a method to encourage his forward movement.”
Lance is optimistic about the future she can have with photography.
“Photography is something I really love to do and I am a firm believer in the statement ‘love what you do, and you will never work a day in your life,’ ” Lance said. “There are so many opportunities in photography and I cannot wait to see where it takes me, the people I will meet, and all of the things I will learn.”