#WesternWomenWednesday, Natalie McFarland, McFarland Productions
Oh, don’t mind Natalie, she’s just over there, building an empire!
Seriously, I love following Natalie and her adventures, from Pendleton, to Hawaii, to Las Vegas. It’s exciting to watch other amazing women as they build tribes and change the norm in the western maker and retail space!
Natalie has taken her love of a camera and used it to build partnerships with brands like the Art of the Cowgirl, Montana Silver, and Pendleton Cattle Baron’s.
Grab your pen because you’re going to want notes!
1. Name. Age. Location.
Natalie McFarland, 28, Based in Southwestern Oregon; traveling worldwide
2. Your love of photography was the basis of McFarland Productions, can you tell us about that?
I have always loved photography. I can remember when I was really little running through countless rolls of film on those disposable cameras taking pictures of my friends and my parents getting tired of developing way to many rolls of film. When I joined 4H in middle school, I showed dogs, horses, cattle, sheep and... photography. I think the majority of my entries into fair as a 4h'er were photos of my horses, dogs, and the ranch. Unbeknownst to be, that passion I had as a kid would lead me to purchase my first professional camera in 2008 with my high school graduation money and start a little side business during college. That side business in college lead to becoming a full blown business and lots of sleepless nights, long hours, education, and elbow grease later, BOOM! here we are; living the dream!
3. How has photography grown to include the video and design services you offer today?
My passion for powerful imagery only heightened when I got more involved in the industry and met a few videographers whose videos inspired me to start working in video as well. I instantly fell in love with the power of cinematography & story telling that you can achieve with still images, but is greatly deepened with well thought out, powerful, and emotional films.
On the design side, I have always loved art & design. I was always making something as a kid and as I grew up I always LOVED creating; but, going from craft paper and scissors to digital design was a leap. Sounds VERY silly, but if you want the truth on how I got started with digital design, here it is. When social media started (Myspace specifically (ugh, now I feel old)) it allowed you to do some very basic html coding to change the look of your profile. Determined to make my profile look way cooler than everyone else's, I taught myself some html to be able to modify my Myspace. That little glimpse of html coding and web design lead me to build my first website for my photography. I am sure that thing still exists out there somewhere, but we'll just keep that website in the depths of the internet where it belongs. HA! Anyway, as I got better and better at web design, I started building sites for my clients, upgrading my own website. Fast forward a few years, my skills developed into tactical design targeting organic reach and creating websites that were optimized for high web traffic and conversion. A powerful website combined with tactful and intentional social media marketing led us to where we are today with our offerings in social & digital design.
4. A goal of many small business owners is to grow a team. How did you know it was time to grow yours and what resources did you use?
Growing a team is something that is still a work in progress. When we started shooting weddings 10 years ago, it became clear very quickly that shooting alone was not an option, especially as we began offering both photography and videography. As the numbers of weddings, events and shoots increased, it was clear that I was going to expand in our number of shooters. Today, we have two contract shooters who work for McFarland Productions on a project by project basis. Kyra started shooting with me way back when we were just shooting weddings & Stephanie joined us as a shooter about a year ago. On the social & marketing end of the company, Christina works with McFarland Productions to help us provide top quality social media services and writing for blogs, etc.
The team is still growing and we plan to keep expanding in the future. The 5 year plan includes several positions that specialize in McFarland Productions various offerings (photo, video, editing, social media, writing, and web design). Our plan is to keep our mission at the center of our growth and never loose sight of our relationships & friendships with our customers and to serve individuals and companies to connect the agriculture industry by promoting the heritage and traditions using powerful imagery, digital marketing, and social media services.
Everyone on our team has a passion of agriculture and the western way of life and we plan to keep that as a consistent theme as we grow.
5. What led you to focusing on the western industry?
I grew up on a small ranch in Southwestern Oregon. I have always been so enamoured with the cowboy lifestyle and grew up rodeoing and showing in multiple disciplines. I had a mare that changed me to the core. She was not just my horse, but my partner. She was one of those once in a lifetime horses who would maybe quite literally run themselves into the ground for you. I am convinced that she would have done anything for me up until the day that we had to let her go due to arthritis taking over. She and I made quite the team reining, team penning, cow horse, and various other events. Together my mare and I promoted the sport of rodeo all over the Northwest.
That passion for horses & cattle throughout my life is ingrained in who I am. I've pulled calves in the middle of the night & fixed fence on sweltering summer days. I've been there. I love it all and would not trade this lifestyle for anything. So, I decided to combine my two passions; promoting agriculture and the cowboy lifestyle through photography, videography and design.
6. Do you think it is important for businesses to find a niche?
YES! Oh my gosh yes! You cannot be everything to everyone. It is so important to learn a trade and learn it well. I could not claim to do well promoting a parasailing tour company in Bora Bora (not that I wouldn't give that a go if it meant I could go to Bora Bora and stay in one of those over water grass huts. I digress). You MUST stick to what you know; what you LOVE.
If you are passionate about what you do it will do several things:
1. Your work WILL be better. Because you love it, it will show in your work.
2. You will be able to better relate to your clients because YOU'RE MY PEOPLE!
3. You will get really good at the thing you do because you are practiced and polished at that one thing.
7. McFarland Productions has some great things planned this coming year! Where are you most excited to visit?
Most excited for... hmm. I don't know that there is any one thing that I am most excited for, there are too many things to choose from and so many things I don't even know are coming yet. I am really just looking forward to working with the best clients & team on earth, in the best lifestyle and industry on earth in amazing locations all over the world.
8. What advice do you have for someone who feels stuck in their business and its direction?
Determination; that's really all it takes. Be so tenacious, its impossible to fail. Keep pushing new ideas and keep moving forward and never stop learning and improving.
9. What to do like to listen to while traveling and editing?
I have music ADD. I like a lot of things, but typically you can catch me listening to Pandora on Chris Stapleton Radio, Phil Vassar Radio, or good ole Johnny Cash Radio (because who doesn't love Johnny Cash). I also listen to a lot of audio books. Most of them are business related or self improvement related. Some recent ones I have listened to that I found very useful are Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind by Jack Trout, The 10X Rule by Grant Cardone, Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis, and Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin.
10. What is your favorite quote?
So a past boss of mine and mentor in my life told me in my 90 day review in my first career position after college that there are three things he sees in me that he said will make me successful, "Attitude, Fear & Blind Ambition. The I'll show you attitude when someone tells me I can't do something, then using that to prove them wrong. Fear of failure, and determination to accept noting less than success. And Blind Ambition to follow my dreams and being to blind to see any way but up." - Mark Sheldon. Those three things, attitude, fear and blind ambition, are things I now live by and are always written on a chalkboard that hangs above my desk (chalk lettering is something I like to do for fun) so I see them every day & stay motivated to keep moving forward and keep pushing.
You can connect with Natalie here: