Taking a good photo of a horse might sound easy. But there is plenty to consider before taking that special photo of your equine friend!
First think what type of photo you want to achieve? Do you want to have a beautiful standing portrait? Are you after catching all the movement and “wilder side” without boosting your horse too much? Are you trying to take a photo with a human interacting with a horse?
My advice would be to browse some amazing galleries on the Internet from professional equestrian photographers. Or just read some horse magazines and take a closer look of the photos!
Before you start snapping plan ahead! If you are after that perfect portrait get your horse brushed up and use a clean halter. Or if you want more natural look on the pasture take the halter off! One might think that sunny day is the best time to take the photos but that is not the case! Bright sun creates plenty shadows and part of your horse will look dim. So cloudy day is usually better, but remember that you still need some light!
Plan your background for a portrait photo. Avoid trees “growing” off the horses back or fences if you can. Plain grass or maybe barn wall can be a good choice for the background. When you find a perfect spot think about your angle. Do you want a side shot? Do you want to take a photo in front of the horse? You might want to try both!
Then the tricky part, you need your horse to co-operate! You want him stand still and straight legged with his ears up and alert. Not so easy.. Some photographers actually use tape recorders and record other horses whinnying and play it while taking photos to get the horse alert!
I’ve also seen a photographer wiping baby-oil to the horses muzzle area and around the head to make him look fancier in the photos. She even uses hairspray to keep the mane and fore top in place!
If you are after a portrait your camera most likely will have a portrait mode so use that. Think about the perspective. You do not want to be too low or too high. Thumb rule is to have the camera in the same level as the horses eyes unless you are after funnier angle.
If you want to get the best photo of your horse in motion, change your camera to the action or sport mode. That way moving horse appears sharper on a photo. Try to get as close as you can but still get the whole horse. And always try to keep the sun behind you, not in front of you, for best exposure! With digital cameras today you can take lot of photos so take advantage of that! Keep clicking frame after frame, if your camera has a burst mode, meaning it will take several images in a row, use it!
Afterwords look at your photos in your computer and keep the ones you think are worth to work on, delete the rest. Bad images downloaded to your computer are just taking unnecessary room away from your hard drive!
Do some additional cropping, saturating and other editing to add the final touch to your images if needed. And don’t forget to print out that perfect image you took and frame it to your wall! Or even better, take one to your tack room for everyone to admire!