How to Take Holiday Photos with your Horse!

As the Holidays come and go, it’s always nice to look back and see your annual photoshoots… and learning how to take top tier photos should be a priority! Here’s How to Take Holiday Photos with your Horse!

If you know me, you know that I LOVE my annual Christmas photos with Theo. As a portraits & equine photographer myself, I always make sure each photoshoot is a top concern… right down to every detail.

And for the past few years, I’ve put special effort into these Christmas photos with my horse, Theo (I think we knocked it out of the park this year though, which you’ll see throughout this blogpost). If you would like to see the Instagram lineups, feel free to check them out on my personal Instagram here!!

But not only do I book clients and take personal photos, I also love to gift free photoshoots to friends and family – just a strong believer that everyone should have photos that they love; so with that, I spend a lot of time directing to get “the shot”.

With directing so many shoots, I’ve learned a specific formula to getting the perfect Holiday gallery. So without further ado, here’s how to take holiday photos with your horse!

Pick out a theme!

When people go to take their holiday photos, it’s usually a last minute, “throw-whatever-you-can-find-together” type of vibe. Which works for some, but can seem or appear a little chaotic for others.

Pick out a theme and stick to it! Personally, I love a more intense, classy look to my galleries, but I also like a cuter, simpler look – like wrapping a wreath around your horse’s neck at Christmas time.

When you go to pick out a theme, take into consideration what you want other’s to feel when they look at your photos… do you want the photos to be giving vogue, or something more heartwarming and nostalgic? When you figure that out, make sure you dress accordingly, and keep your decorations well matched.

bows and horses

Here are some theme ideas:

  • Vogue: long dress or niche attire + clean, well-organized tack + subtle decor touch like bows or tinsels
  • Christmas-to-the-t: Christmas colors + Santa hats
  • Simplistic: Cute little dress or sweater that match the holiday colors + the horse is well groomed
  • Match-y, match-y: Saddle pad, base-layer, etc. match + clean, shiny tack + barn facilities in the background

Check out: How to Take Killer Photos with Your Horse!

Date and time

When you decide to take holiday photos, you need to plan a date and time accordingly – otherwise you risk it never getting done and then you have to wait until next year (not recommended)!

Plan a date and time to take the photos. This is helpful for a few different reasons: a) you’ll need to work with someone who can come out and take your photos, b) if you don’t plan, you’re really planning to fail, and c) certain lighting really makes or breaks the aesthetics of the gallery.

If you’re wanting brighter, more cheerful photos, then shoot for a sunnier time of day (just have a space with shade if you’re not confident shooting in direct light). Or if you’re wanting something a little warmer, either a sunrise or sunset glow would be perfect! And finally, if you have moody in mind, I typically plan for 45 minutes before the sun goes down or on a rainy/overcast day.

Laura Elsie Grace & Theo
“Well you Clean up nicely”

Not only should you plan your theme, you also need to put effort into your appearance! Throwing something on is never as effective as taking time to plan out your outfit, as well as what your horse will be wearing.

According to the vibe and theme, really put thought into this stage! Personally, I go shopping every year for a brand new dress – something that no one has seen – which really brings up the impact of the photos when posted!

After your decide on your outfit, make sure your horse has something of equal value… whether it’s a plaited mane with bows, or a wreath around his/her neck. It also goes without saying that your horse should be well groomed head-to-toe. If you have pretty and curled hair, then there’s no reason for there to be any mud on your horse ; )

How to take killer photos with your horse

When you take holiday photos with your horse, make sure you experiment! For perfect, show stopping photos, they really can’t be run of the mill – go all out with posing and angles!

If you don’t take photos often or you’re not comfortable in front of the camera, then bring someone you’re comfortable with to take the photos. That way, you can really try and scope new ideas without feeling awkward or rushed.

Try lowering the shutter speed on your camera to get intentional blurry photos (this will add emotion), and try to move + jump around to create more of a storyline! If you need ideas, Pinterest is always your #1 friend!

blurry photos with horse

Check out: Exciting Instagram Captions for Horses!

Get those ears perked

The key to getting good photos with your horse is getting their ears perked in every shot. The photos just won’t hit the spot if your horse looks grumpy or like they would quite literally be anywhere else.

I like to call it “The Ear Perk Device”… which is really just a loud friend or a ruffled plastic bag. But anything that will get those ears forward, and tall, stoic, posture out of your horse. For the specific shoot you’ve been seeing throughout this post, I took Theo to a place he had never been before at my barn, which ultimately did the trick as he saw new faces in the surrounding pastures.

equine photography
Edit, edit, edit

Once your photos are done, editing is honestly 50% of the process. It’s so important to spend time in this department. I personally edit on Lightroom Classic, but the mobile version is free! And if you need presets, you can find good ones on Etsy that are inexpensive.

Anyways, refer back to your initial vibe/theme and edit with that in mind. Spend additional time contemplating if the photo should be in B&W or color, as well as if cropping adds any value.

Laura elsie grace
You’re done!

If taking holiday photos with your horse isn’t on the tradition list, then it definitely should be! I love to look back on previous years to see our growth.

Here’s a quick round-up but be sure to save this post for future shoots!

  • Pick out a theme
  • Date and time
  • Clean up nicely
  • Experiment
  • Get those ears perked
  • Edit, edit, edit
Laura Ringstaff & Theo

Check out: How to Grow Your Fanbase as an Equestrian Influencer!

And voila! You’re all done. Make sure to tag me @Laura.Elsie.Grace or @TheValiantEquestrian if you follow these tips so I can see the works of art!

Tell me, do you take holiday photos with your horse(s)? What vibe/theme do you personally love? Let me know in the comments!

All the best,

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