Do's and Don'ts of Photographing Your Horse
Equestrian Life

The Do’s and Don’ts of Photographing Your Horse

We’ve all been there. Your horse is the cutest horse in the whole wide world and your phone is filled to the brim with photographs of your special equine. But set yourself up for success and follow my basic (and yet often overlooked) do’s and don’ts of getting great photographs.

Because I’m brutally honest I will focus on the do not’s because I did every single one of them today. {Insert head smack here.}

My favorite equine photographs are candid, not posed.  This is a lot more organic and tends to tell the true story of a horse and rider’s personality. In those circumstances, the rider interacts and wrangles their own horse and I either go with it or help reset.

Not so my own horse. Recently I attended the American Horse Publications conference in Hunt Valley, Maryland and won a humongous basket of Mane & Tail products in the silent auction! So of course before I play with the products I have to photograph them. I took a lot of great photos, and not so great photos. Here is what I learned about photographing my horse.

Do Have a Plan

Straight Arrow Products

I packed my car with the beautiful basket from Mane & Tail, my sturdy Nikon D7200 and drove to the barn. I had at least one shot in mind- the basket and mounting block. The mounting block is long, beautifully weathered, and is nicely framed by the white barn. But other than that, I had no clue. This was a spur of the moment decision because it was too hot to ride. I didn’t know what the lighting was like, if there were lessons going on, or even if my pony was clean.


Do Use What You See

Have a plan but let inspiration strike! When I arrived, I noticed a gorgeous pair of cowboy boots perched perfectly on the bottom step of the mounting block. Someone had put them there in passing. Quickly, I grabbed my camera and took a few snaps before anyone came to claim them.


Don’t Trust Your Pony

I love Ferrous, he’s amazing and has many fine qualities. Standing still isn’t one of them. However he is very curious.  I purposely didn’t bring treats because he has a radar for that sort of thing and would never stand still. I figured I would bring him out and see how he did as a product model.

Note: he was a wanderer. Plus, he spooked at his own shadow while standing still. Boys are weird. But also, good to know for next time.


Do Bring the Proper Lens

Many of you take photos with your smartphones, as do I. Often it’s quick, it’s handy, and it’s capable. But today I brought the big guy out and had my favorite lens, the 70-200mm perfect for an array of shots, especially in the field. However, not the best for product shoots where I should be close and able to grab a wandering horse if necessary. I went to switch lenses to my 18-135mm and realized I’d taken it out to clean it and never put it back. Ugh. I made do. Yet I was a little farther away than I would have liked. It took no time at all for Ferrous to wander off in search of grass. My normally willing pony was determined to walk away as quickly as possible and then trot off, the lead rope dragging along on the ground when he saw me following behind.


S.O.S! My fantastic barn owner went off to grab some oats in a bucket while I grabbed paper scraps from the basket and followed him. He saw something in my hands and was easy to catch, but if I’d been closer with a smaller lens I’m pretty sure it would never have gone that far.


Do Bring an Assistant


I had an unlikely assistant in my beautiful barn owner, who pitched in unexpectedly. She spread some oats out near the basket and even included some grass to keep Ferrous’s attention.


Don’t Take Too Long

The weather was extremely hot, humid, and buggy. Running after my errant pony made me uncomfortably warm, and Ferrous was mad at the bugs. So we kept the impromptu photo session short and sweet.

Still, the photos tell a story and for a few minutes work and a lot of chaos, they came out okay.




The images are certainly honest! I’m very excited to try these products and stay tuned for my thoughts. I’m thinking Ferrous will do better with video so perhaps I’ll take my own advice, make a plan, and play to his strengths!


Does your horse like having his or her photo taken?



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