The one thing every equestrian needs? Photos. Good photos at that. And if there’s one thing I know how to do… it’s take photos with my horse – and you should join the fun. Here’s How to Take Killer Photos with Your Horse!
Ever since I was 13 years old, I’ve carried my little Canon Rebel around; unfortunately, thereupon my last shoot, I’m realizing that it’s time to retire the ol’ camera. But anyways, I’ve taken more photos with my horses than I can count and it usually ends with pinned ears and stepped on toes… all for 3 photos that are only semi-blurry.
That being said, I do have a few favorites: specifically my annual Christmas photos (which are the photos you’ll see throughout this post)! I usually grab my mom and make a mad dash for the mall to find an outfit, which is no easy task, and then we have to go to Hobby Lobby to see what we can whip up for Theo. Honestly, it’s just a whole ordeal… but worth it in the end.
And hey, if you want your own system of photoshoots (rather than my organized chaos)… more power to you! But I have a trick or two up my sleeve that I’ve learned over the years, so here’s how to take killer photos with your horse!
Plan, plan, plan
Here’s the deal. Given that you’re anything like me, then if you aren’t planning it, it ain’t happening.
So if you have a shoot idea, write it down! If you have an outfit idea, write it down! If you have a prop idea, write it down! And If you saw a cool location… you guessed it… write it down!
And unless you want to set up a tri-pod and learn some self-portraits, I would recommend texting up some friends and see if you can snag any while they’re free. Make sure you set a date and time (be sure to check the weather) and stick to it!
In the end, taking the time to plan your shoots will reduce 100% of the headache between deciding what you’re going to take photos of and who is going to take them.
Pinterest is your friend
I can’t count how many times where I had the outfit, I had the location, but I didn’t quite have the poses. And that makes for a short and sweet shoot. You might have pose ideas in your head, but 9 times out of 10 you’re going to forget everything once the camera is pointed at you.
Personally, I am a sucker for Pinterest. Any time I’m bored – but Instagram is a little too much – I’m heading straight to Pinterest. But not only out of boredom, but for recipes, branding schemes, feed ideas, and… poses!
If you want to start taking consistent photos or even just overall improved photos, you’re going to need to draw some inspiration starting out. And this doesn’t necessarily have to be Pinterest, it could be any place that brings out your creativity! I’ve been loving Lemon8 lately, but we’ll see if it gains popularity or not.
If you’re still struggling to find things you would like to recreate or personalize, try searching for things like: equestrian editorial, equestrian poses, pose ideas, horse photography, etc.
And just have fun with it! Create boards and dream big ; )
Practice makes perfect
Want to take killer photos with your horse? Practice makes perfect. Being that I usually take photos with my mom or sister, I’m usually a-ok to whip out some new pose ideas; however, I’ve definitely been out with people where I feel like getting my photo taken is just the absolute worst. So I get it, you’re a little camera shy and that’s okay!
There are many ways to feel more comfortable in front of the camera,
but here are just a few ideas:
Practice facial expressions in front of the mirror. For me, I really struggle with my facial expressions when I’m having my photo taken. This is especially so when I’m not feeling confident that day because, “if I just make a purposeful ugly face, then I won’t feel as ugly”.
And I don’t know if this is a universal thing or not, but I highly recommend taking time to practice in front of a mirror. This could be deciding if you like your eyebrows raised, or if you would prefer to smile with your teeth or not, or just any facial expression that comes to mind. It’s a tremendous help, trust me.
Try vlogging for a few days. One of the biggest reasons that I’m so comfortable nowadays, is the fact that I spent many years vlogging. Point a camera at me? It’s show time fellas. Learning to feel at ease talking and looking at a lens will make a world of difference.
Fake it till you make it. I know confidence doesn’t come from thin air, I do. However, sometimes you just have to fake it until you no longer need to. Personally, I have forced myself to loosen up and just get on with it probably more times than I can count… and if you want to be the subject of the photo, then you gotta do what you gotta do.
I think that a lot of times we’re scared of what the people around us might think; but in reality, that’s what they’re there for… to take photos of you. They expect or even want you to try out ideas rather than stand there like a brick wall. Go for those quirky and fun poses – it sure does make for a good shoot!
Check out: The Best Instagram Captions for Equestrians!
Groom and prep
Before you even think about stepping foot on stable grounds, make sure you have hair done, make up done, and whatever else you need to get done. I’ll usually pack a spare pair of shoes and a jacket to put over my nice clothes; just in case I have to trek through mud or groom an extra-filthy horse.
Now that you’re ready for the barn, go grab your pony and give them a real good groom. Bathe if you need to, but make sure that horse is shiny! If you need a little assistance, hoof polish and detangler makes a big difference in the details department. And just a tip, I usually bring a jacket to put over my outfit as well as change of shoes for grooming.
I also usually like to add something to the horse, just to make them stand out a little more – especially if I have something extravagant on. It could be anything from bows/flowers in their mane, or a garland around their neck, just make it something cohesive! And make it make sense!
The ear-perk device
Listen. Some horses are photogenic and will make a nice face for you, while the other 99.9% will pin their ears and look everywhere but the camera. It’s a hard truth, but it’s the truth.
I like to be well-prepared for this.
First up, we have the classic plastic bag. Want your horse to stand up straight? That should do the trick. Unfortunately, after one too many shoots, there is a desensitizing aspect of all of these tricks, and the plastic bag is not immune.
Second, we all know that one person who can make any sound in the book… grab them. There is just something so fascinating to horses about blowing a raspberry.
And finally, we have YouTube. Got a thoroughbred? Play “Call to the Post.” But I also find that horses neighing is a keeper for ear-perking swindling.
You’ll almost never find me posting a photo where my horse has a sorry look on his face; it’s just not visually appealing for the viewers. So make sure that while out shooting, you’re also prioritizing your horse’s face and posture.
Add Emotion and life
I think we can all agree that stiff, posed photos is just not the vibe nowadays; instead, people want to see movement, authenticity, and nostalgia just bursting from your posts. But how do you accomplish this?
There are many different ways… here are are few:
- Try a lower shutter speed – you’ll have to set this manually in-camera
- Move, dance, and run around – don’t just stand still. Though, I still make sure to get a couple where I’m smiling at the camera, just to have them
- Black and white, grain, and cropping – you’ll have to do this in editing
- Weird angles – sometimes I like to get my horse’s jaw bone, or maybe our feet(hooves?) next to each other
These are just a couple of examples but you can definitely check out YouTube or Instagram to get more in-depth insight!
Editing is 50%!
Alright, you got a few good shots and you’re so excited to post them… but you can’t quite yet. It’s time to edit! And I know, I know, editing is tedious. However, editing is 50%+ in factoring whether it’s a killer photo or not.
You know how photographers don’t send out raw photos? That’s because it’s not a good representation of their work – editing is when they developing their style and make the pictures come alive.
But I hear ya, I hear ya – you don’t know how to edit. Personally, I would recommend Lightroom Mobile on your phone: free and easy. If you’re also not sure how to mess with the colors and moods, consider looking on Etsy for some presets!
Man, that was a lot of information. But if you follow these tips… you’re going to be taking killer photos with your horse in no time.
Here’s a quick run-down for you:
- Plan, plan, plan
- Pinterest is your friend
- Practice makes perfect
- Groom and prep
- The ear-perk device
- Add emotion and life
- Editing is 50%
Tell me, have you ever have a photoshoot with your horse? Did you love how the photos turned out? Let me know in the comments below!
And there you have it! This was How to Take Killer Photos with Your Horse!
All the best,
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