How to Photograph Your Horse

By Ron Petracek

A good photograph portrays your horse in his best possible light. A bad photograph, by contrast, draws attention to every fault, no matter how insignificant, and sometimes even exaggerates those faults!

Whether you are advertising your horse because he is for sale or advertising his recent show ring accomplishments, knowing how to photograph your horse correctly is a skill you must develop. If you derive income from your horses getting good photographs of them to put in front of the public is absolutely integral!

So, how do you take good photographs of your horse? Well, the first thing you should know is that it takes a little bit of practice. You shouldn’t expect to load your camera, take a few rolls, and be Robert Vavra over night! However, if you follow the following tips you’ll be shooting great pics of your horse in no time.

• Film matters! That’s right, use good-quality film such as Kodak or Fuji, and you’ll see it really does make a difference. If you are using a 35 mm format opt for 200 ASA. Going digital? The higher the pixels the better.

• Pick the right day. A bright day is good, but pick a day that isn’t too sunny. Too much sun will create dark shadows, and can be particularly problematic if you are shooting a dark horse. If you have no choice but to shoot on a sunny day, use a flash to eliminate shadows. It sounds counterintuitive, but it really does work!

• Prepare your horse. Now I know you are not going to stand him up hairy and dirty, but in addition to good grooming you might want to take some extra steps to ensure your horse looks his best. If appropriate to the discipline in which he participates, braid his mane and oil his hooves. Make sure his coat and his tail are shiny and well-brushed.

• Pick a uncluttered background. A natural background such as a field, woodland, or pasture is a good choice. The barnyard or driveway, no matter how neat and clean, is not a great choice because of the stuff that is bound to be in the background. You want the viewer to be wowed by your horse, not your new Cadillac Escalade. Look at the details before you click! Sounds crazy, but how many amateur photographs have you seen that depict horses with pitchforks growing out of their heads? As improbably as it sounds, I bet at least one, right? It bears repeating—check the background!

• Make sure tack is clean. If you photograph your horse in his bridle or saddle, make sure that both have been recently scrubbed. For that matter, anything your horse wears in a photo should be squeaky clean. That goes for the rider and handler, too!

• Enlist the help of a knowledgeable horse person. You can’t take pictures and position the horse too, so you’ll need some help. It’s best if the person who helps you knows how to pose a horse to his best advantage.

• The angle and position of the horse are key. For a full body shot, stand the horse with both front legs together and one hind leg slightly behind the other. To minimize parts looking too large or too small, focus on the middle of the horse, and do not shoot from too high or too low. Make sure the horse looks alert with bright eyes and both ears forward. Horse not cooperating? Have a friend make some noise (outside the frame, of course!) to get your horse’s attention.

• Get the right action. If you are taking shots of your horse in action, you’ll want to capture his power and impulsion. If your horse is trotting or cantering, try to capture him with his leading leg extended.

• Stay away from the front and rear. Photos from the side come out much nicer than photos taken head on or from the rear, which almost always accentuate unwanted things and make them look, well, HUGE!

• Keep clicking! While skill is most certainly involved, some of the best horse photographs are lucky. That’s right. Don’t wait for the perfect moment. Just keep clicking and you are sure to get a shot that shows your horse at his best!

Ron Petracek – Idaho Raised Horseman, Equine Article Directory Looking for more equine information or services? Try our vast network Click here =>

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