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Horse photography: Capturing stunning shots of your equine friend (even if you don't want to join)

Updated: May 31, 2023

As a horse photographer, I often come across clients who don't want to be in the photos with their beloved animals. And while I will try to persuade you, I also understand everyone has their reasons.

So I want to share some thoughts on how we can still make gorgeous photos of your horse, even if you won't be in them.


Why don't you want to join your horse in the photos?

First, let's talk about some common reasons why people may not want to be in photos with their horses.


Icelandic horse running in a pasture in the Italian Dolomites

It could be a lack of confidence.

Not everyone is. comfortable in front of the camera, and some people may feel especially self-conscious when posing. They may worry about not looking their best or not knowing how to pose.


Let me tell you this: not of my clients know how to pose. That's why you hired a professional photographer. We will start by getting you relaxed and comfortable by taking a few snap shots while you are getting your horse ready. And by the time the session is over, you will have forgotten about being nervous in front of the camera. I promise.


I might be a personal preference.

Some people prefer to just not be in photographs. And that's ok.

Or maybe you feel that the focus should be solely on your equine friend, and you don't want to steal their spotlight.

But what about the beauty of the bond between you two. Shouldn't that be celebrated as well?


Perhaps you have body image issues.

Unfortunately, there are still so many people who struggle with body image issues. And they think they shouldn't be in the photos because they are to self-conscious about their appearance.


I pride myself on being an inclusive photographer. Come as you are. You're perfect just like that.

And you deserve to be in the images celebrating the friendship with your horse.


Still don't want to be part of the photo session?

That's ok.

There are may ways to capture the beauty and spirit of your horse. We will still get some great images.


white dappled gypsy cob horse running through shallow water

What should we be looking for when taking horse-only photos?

When both you and your horse are in the images, all that matters is that I capture the unique communication between the two of you.

But if it's only the horse in the images, we need to be looking for other factors to add interest to the images.


Location

Choosing the right location is crucial here. A great location will enhance the beauty of your horse and make the image more appealing.


It can be beautiful scenery (think rolling hills, a lake, a park, ...), a picturesque barn wall (wood, bricks, ...), an industrial setting, or maybe even a castle (yes, I did that too)!


But it should also mean minimal distractions. When the photo is centered around your horse, that nothing should take away the attention from them. So no messy barns, parked farm equipment, or other clutter. And last but not least: safety. Make sure the horse can not hurt themselves and is contained at all times. I only take liberty photos in fenced off areas. For locations where the horse can't be loose, I use a special photo halter.


Lighting

Lighting is one of the most important factors to consider when taking any type of photograph, and it is no different for horse photography. The best option is always natural light. So whenever possible, that is what I will go for.

It is more flattering and will give your photos a softer, more natural look. I prefer to shoot early morning or evening, because that is when the light is of the best quality. If we do take photos indoors (like an arena), I will position the horse near a door or a window. Harsh light is seldom beautiful, it can create unflattering shadows and highlights. So I will avoid direct sunlight as much as possible. Again, this is why early morning or evening is best. Obviously, this does not matter on overcast days, but then again, when is the weather ever predictable?


If there is no lighting that I can work with, and your horse is ok with it, I might choose to use a continuous light. Not a flash, because I think horses are too unpredictable.


Different angles

As we do not have the same diversification as I would have with you in the images, I will also take some close ups of interesting features of your horse. This is something I really like to do. I find that details have so much to say and can make very powerful photos.


Action

If you have the available space, we can let the horse loose in the pasture and get some amazing action shots of your horse running, or if possible, rearing.


silhouette photo of man standing at the beach at sunrise with a gypsy cob horse

Conclusion

There are many ways to capture stunning photos of your horse.


I will still hold onto the hope that in the end you might join our horse for a few shots, though. Just because the bond between you and your horse is so sweet and you deserve to show that off.


Let me know if you have any questions, I'd be happy to hear from you!

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