Hi, I’m Tori Kistler, Becky’s partner in crime and fellow horse-obsessed photographer! I would like to take a few minutes to explain my own story and why being a part of Calico and Chrome Creative is so important to me.
Photography and horses have been two passions that have flitted in and out of focus for the past 20 years. I have very distinct memories of rushing across the street from my grandparent’s house to visit the neighbor’s horses, Cinderella and Cheyanne. I would stand in line forever at fall festivals for a 2 minute pony ride, saved all my money one summer to afford a trail ride up in Pine Mountain GA when I was about 10, and then at 16 I was blessed with the opportunity to work for riding lessons. After that, I was hooked and there was no looking back. I was a committed horse crazy girl who would rather spend hours mucking stalls than hang out at the mall.
In a similar fashion, photography has always been a part of my life. When I was little, my mother would pay me to edit family photos on Picasa (am I dating myself?) And at some point, my parents passed down their first point and shoot camera to me. It was a clunky, grey contraption that resembled a submarine, but I couldn’t have been more excited! I took it everywhere and practiced often. When I was 17, I received my first DSLR camera, the same one I use today. I also took it everywhere, photographing horses, dogs, and wildlife galore! While I have photographed many different things – families for Christmas cards, a few dog shows, several friend’s senior photos, and many horse clinics, I have never considered myself a professional photographer. It’s always just been a hobby I hoped to share with my friends and family. That is until the spring of 2022 when I reached out to my friend Becky asking how I could make my photos better and was answered with a dream I never imagined.
I don’t think Becky had any idea what an answer to prayer this offer was to work alongside her. It had been almost a year and a half since I lost my sweet, old man horse Sunny and I was drowning myself in commitments so I wouldn’t have to feel that loss. I hated horses, but at the same time I was stubborn as a Shetland pony and refused to give up on them completely. But truth be told, when Becky offered me the opportunity to work with her and to build a business focused on equestrian photography, I had no idea I was saying yes to one of the things that would heal my very broken heart. But our amazing God knew exactly what He was doing and I am so thankful for all the craziness that has led to this partnership. It has been an amazing year of growth, learning, and healing. I never would have dreamed of becoming an actual professional photographer, but I am so thankful for the opportunity and so excited to see what the Lord has in store for this business. It is all to His glory!
Left and Right: Some of my earliest horse experiences, Middle: Riding Mira
Being a part of this photographic team means the world to me and so does capturing those sweet, intimate moments between a horse and rider. There is such a unique bond that is formed in the hours and hours of practice, late nights, early mornings, successes, and failures. Whether you’ve competed at the highest of levels with your horse or only ridden around your back yard, the relationship you build with your horse is priceless. My horse Sunny was everything to me. He came to me when I needed him most and he taught me so much! He was my confidence to learn new things and my best friend. When I moved away for college, he was always my first stop on my way home and my last stop before heading back for school. I lost him very unexpectedly on a rainy night in November of 2020 and nothing has been the same since. But his loss has made me realize just how important capturing those special moments are, because time goes on, and whether you like it or not, memories fade. I am so incredibly thankful for the beautiful memories I have of the two of us that Becky captured before he was even mine officially and the beautiful photos my mother took the Christmas after I got him.
Some of my favorite photos of Sunny and I
Sunny was not a fancy registered horse and we never did any big shows, but our relationship meant the world to me. Having that relationship memorialized in photos is priceless. My love for him is what drives my passion for capturing the best moments of a horse and rider at every barrel race, every eventing show, and every portrait session. Because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what you have accomplished with your horse as long as you love them. I want to capture the special bond you have with your horse in a way that is unique to you!
Some of my earliest photography work with my DSLR
It is easy to see God’s plan when you look back at your life, but so much harder to trust His plan when you can’t see what He is doing. Looking back at some of my old photos, I never would have guessed I would be working as a photographer, but He was clearly preparing me for His plans and not my own. I am truly looking forward to what He has in store in the years to come.