Hi! I'm Becky Henderson, the Owner of this here thing called Calico & Chrome Creative! This is my in-depth and raw story of how C&C came to be - after all, those who know me know that overall, I like to keep it real and transparent! Everyone has a story behind why they do what they do, and as a photographer I'm a storyteller, just through still images. So if you've got a few spare minutes, here is my story!
C&C may be new in the photography world, and I still feel like a complete newbie when it comes to running this business, but I wouldn't say I'm new to photography. I have been pointing a camera at people, animals, landscapes and other things for as long as I can remember - whenever it was that I got my first 2 Megapixel digital camera (which was a big deal back then!). Over the years I worked my way up from that 2 megapixel beast, to a nicer point-and-shoot camera, and in 2011, finally purchased my very first DSLR. It was nothing fancy, but it expanded my world in so many ways. I really enjoyed photographing everything in my life - especially my horses! I had no intention of ever doing this professionally, I was just a photographer for the joy of taking photographs of what mattered to me. It wasn't until I quit my Graphic Design job in 2018 to stay home with my baby girl that I decided I might could make this an actual business.
In 2018, B. Henderson Photo was born. I had no idea what I was doing! It was great fun, absolutely terrifying, and tons of work! But I loved it! I photographed many families and children over those few years and built up a wonderful clientele. You may have seen my "Rusty Truck Minis" floating around social media around that time. Those were my favorite!
But with time, my lack of business expertise and knowledge wore on me. I was overworked and underpaid and it took it's toll! After we were blessed with our little boy in January of 2020, I tried to get back into it, but I was completely burned out and struggled to find my motivation to keep going. So, I called it quits and hung up my camera for a couple years. Turns out, it wasn't just health and mental health I was struggling with, I wasn't pointing my camera in the right direction!
Left: WhenI got CJ for Christmas, Middle: What we looked like most of the time, Right: CJ and my Dad escorting me across the field to my wedding
I have no memory of ever NOT being a "horse girl." For as long as I can remember, I have loved all things horses. I do have memories of the days I dreamed of having a horse of my very own. The funny thing is that in my dreams I always wanted a Clydesdale! They've always been a favorite of mine. Of course, for a girl like me, a Clydesdale was never in the cards. But even better, on Christmas of 1998, I got the best Christmas gift a little girl could ever dream of: my unicorn, a little 14hh Paso Fino named Calico Jack. We enjoyed 20 years together and had lots of adventures, even if they were all in the woods and along our dirt road in our neighborhood. He was a huge piece of my heart and meant the world to me. Not only was he my baby, he was the most special first "horse experience" for so many others, including my daughter, who loved him so dearly. He was sassy and silly, yet so incredibly affectionate and gentle. When I met him for the first time, before my parents purchased him, they sat me on his bare back with a halter and lead and let us go. I had never been on a horse by myself before. We had an instant connection and I rode him around that pasture for an hour or so before getting off. My parents decided on the spot that they needed to buy him. I never took riding lessons, and our preferred way to knock around the neighborhood was with as little tack as possible. He taught me how to ride! And best of all, he helped my dad walk me to my wedding and give me away.
Left: CJ, Right: Dakotah - Photos by the incredible Elizabeth Birdwell Photography
In the summer of 2019, Elizabeth Birdwell of Elizabeth Birdwell Photography came and did a portrait session of me and my horse boys, CJ and Dakotah. This was a session I had always dreamed of doing. I was barely pregnant with our son, and though it felt a bit selfish to pay for a session that didn't involve my family, I decided to pull the trigger and do it. I had been doing a lot of work with Dakotah and it was definitely a mountain-top season for me and my equines. Looking back, I firmly believe that my desire to do this session was God's prompting because only He knew what the rest of the year would hold. Just 3 months later we unexpectedly lost CJ, and though when you care for aging animals you always know it's coming eventually, it was so sudden that it sucked all the wind out of my sails. We had just gotten a mini horse to be his companion for his new pasture at our house and I was SO excited for him to move across the road to my back yard. I can't tell you how much more these beautiful photos by Elizabeth mean to me now. They were special then, but they are priceless treasures now!
When I lost him, I felt like a part of me died with him. Maybe part of it was pregnancy hormones, but it felt like the horse-girl in me disappeared. I lost all hope that I'd ever enjoy horses again like I did, and I basically decided that I needed to sell Dakotah and give up because those days were past. Thank goodness for Heidi. She was a huge healing comfort to us in the days after CJ passed. She gave Ellie and I a sweet little teddy-bear horse to snuggle and love (Dakotah is not the snuggly kind), and she has much the same temperament and personality that CJ did. At first, I wasn't sure if we would keep her or not, but turns out, God knew we needed her, and she needed us. She has the patience of a saint and has helped me teach my kiddos horse safety and respect - on a small, won't-kill-you scale - and has recently been the perfect pony for Ellie to learn to ride on.
Heidi and Ellie on Ellie's 3rd Birthday just weeks after losing CJ
After a couple difficult, dark years, God brought me physical, mental, and emotional healing that gave me my health and energy back, and not long after, He reignited the creative fire in my heart. I did a lot of praying about whether or not I should go for it one more time. I knew that if I was going to try this photography thing again, I needed to make sure I was doing work that kept that fire going. It needed to be work that I enjoyed - work that I was passionate about. I knew horses had to be part of that equation. I really figured that if I could work with horses in photography, that would be a good way to get my "horse fix" (horse people know what I mean by that! lol). Horses had always been my favorite subjects and it's something I'd never tire of! I also know that it's too easy to have gorgeous photos taken and then never have time to have prints, wall art, or albums created so you can truly enjoy the photos! I wanted to set up the business in a way that all my clients would come out of their sessions with beautiful artwork that I can personally create for them and take one more thing off their plate.
I remember the night I came up with the name Calico & Chrome. I knew I wanted to rebrand because I didn't want to just re-start B.Henderson Photo. No, I wanted more than to just take nice pictures. I wanted to create a brand that would allow me, or others, the opportunity for growth and explore other aspects of creativity in the future. Because of my Christian faith, I wanted this business to be a ministry as well - a ministry through high-quality creative services I can offer, and Lord willing, be able to give back to ministries that mean a lot to me. So I got a notebook and a pen and started writing down ideas. I nailed down 'Calico', to honor the memory of my CJ and that wonderful gift the Lord gave me for 20 years. But then I wanted to incorporate my other horses as well. At this point I still have Dakotah and now two paint mini horses, Heidi and Bubbles. Suddenly, Calico & Chrome just kind of flowed out and I instantly knew that was it. After some Google searching to make sure there were no other Calico & Chrome Creatives, I determined that was it, and moved forward with registering the name. Not long after that, God brought Tori along on a whim, a sweet friend I'd known for quite a few years, and He put the idea on my heart to ask her to join me in this business!
The rest is history.
There have been a lot of bumps in the path along the way. Lots of high highs and low lows. Lots of learning, imagining, dreaming, and doing. This has truly been an act of courage for me and pushed me so far out of my comfort zone! But I know that God has a plan for this business and I am along for whatever ride He takes me on! It's His business after all, I'm just His willing servant.
The perfect photo of "Calico & Chrome", by Elizabeth Birdwell Photography
As I continue to learn and grow, I have enjoyed looking back on some of my old work from 10-15 years ago and seeing how God was forming this business even then, through my creative exploration in photography. It's a perfect reminder to me that He has a much grander plan than what we could ever imagine or dream up in our own head, and though sometimes the path seems foggy or dark, He can be trusted through it all!