Normally, I photograph families. Recently, however, I had the opportunity to take photos of five horses and jumped on it. These horses are owned by Connie, the owner of the “unicorn” horse that I hired. Connie and I decided that I would take portraits of her horses in exchange for her time during my unicorn sessions. While this was my first “equine” session, it will definitely not be my last! Here are some pointers I picked up along the way.
Photographing horses takes time and a rushed session won’t get you the highest quality photos. That’s why it’s important to allow for three to four hours, especially if there are multiple horses involved. It’s also a good idea to have two assistants at the photoshoot. One will be responsible for the horse. They will position the horse and make sure it doesn’t wander too far. The other assistant’s job will be to get the horse’s attention using various methods.
The ideal portrait of a horse is with its ears up or “picked.” To achieve this look, the assistant should make a noise or movement behind the camera or off to the side. This will get the horses attention. Remember that horses are flight animals so it’s important to avoid noises or movements that may startle them.
Make sure you inform the owner of all of these pointers before your equine session. This way everyone is on the same page and you have a greater chance of getting the best possible photos. When it comes to the achievement of the black background, I suggest you close all the windows and doors in the barn except for one. Also, sweep the floors and pay special attention to the area where the horse will stand.
Once your background is good to go, position the horse so that it stands in the open barn doorway. You can take care of the rest of the magic by processing the photos in Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop. Don’t forget to be patient as working with animals is far different than working with humans. If you’re flexible and go in with no expectations, you won’t be disappointed.
As I said, equine photography is not my bread and butter but I had a blast and am always open to unique requests. Head over to my website to view more of my work, learn more about the packages I offer, and to get in touch.