Every horse owner knows the struggle of getting the perfect picture with a horse. One second their ears are pointing toward the camera and the next thing you know they are reaching for a patch of grass. Although the perfect shot takes what seems like millions of takes, the results are worth the wait. Not only do you have an amazing picture to spice up your Instagram feed but you also (potentially) have material worthy of being hung in your living room. Whether you choose to hire a professional photographer or take the pictures yourself, here are five tips on how to get that perfect shot with your beloved equine.
Plan and prepare in advance
One of the worst mistakes to make is to have your horse all cleaned the day before and get your hair done just to arrive at the barn the next day and realize you brought the wrong camera lenses and have no idea where you will be photographing. Understand that the subjects in the photograph are the horse and yourself, envision the photographs you want to capture and start preparing from there. Although a professional photographer can give you pointers on how to get the best shot of you and your horse, you should also have a clear goal of what you want. Is it more professional or more fun? Do you want a mystical aura or do you want to look competitive? From there, assess what type of shots you want (e.g. action shots, portraits, etc.) and the aura that you want to achieve. Afterward, think about how you want to present yourself and your horse. If you are planning to photograph yourself using a professional camera, you will also need to consider factors such as poses/angles, background, lighting, and lenses. No matter what your plan is, make sure your horse and all of your gear are clean the day before so that you can at least have that out of the way on the day of your shoot.
Matchy sets and elegant designs are best
The outfit you wear on the day of the photoshoot will largely depend on the look you are going for. If you are going for the magical look, then of course you may want to wear a flowy dress and decorate your hair with flowers. You can also consider decorating your horse’s mane with the same flowers (as long as he/she tolerates it). If you are going for a more professional look, then go with the tried and true white breeches (such as the Competition Breeches “Enoki”) with either a white polo or a contrasting color top (e.g. the Base Layer in Jet Black.”) If you want something fun goes for a colorful matchy set. Choose your favorite color and remember to match it with your horse’s saddle pad and ear bonnet. One of our favorite looks at Uniqcorn Exceptionnel is the “Berrylicious” Outfit. For more outfit inspirations, visit: www.uniqcorn.com/.
Take a walk, breathe, and cuddle
That’s right, the best (most natural looking) pictures of horses and people tend to be the ones where the subjects are occupied and relaxed. In these cases, there is no need for any actual posing to occur. Instead, you simply walk (either on or off the horse) towards the camera. What makes action shots even better is that you don’t have to look at the camera (often, looking away allows for the picture to turn out even more natural). However, action shots are much more difficult to photograph if you are on your own (which is why proper planning and setup is a must). Another great (and slightly simpler) pose idea is taking a moment with your incredible partner. The best part is that horses have an amazing ability to take all awkwardness away. Don’t know what to do with your hands? Cuddle your horse! Feeling anxious about how you will look on camera? Lean against them! Don’t forget to let your horse’s personality takeover for that extra bit of spice. Try to be creative and use the horse as your guide. The possibilities are endless once you get into the flow.
Keep the background minimal
The last thing you want is to have a beautiful picture ruined with too many distractions in the background. Sure, trees in the background of your riding shot may add to the aura, but that red pickup in the distance may just be that detail which throws everything off in your portrait shot. The best backgrounds are fairly clean and have little to no distractions. A barn door or a wall of hay bales may do if you are posing with your horse on the ground. Minimal backgrounds also allow for easy editing in case you want to turn the backdrop into a different, solid color.
Lighting matters a lot
Natural lighting is the most flattering for almost all photography of horses and people. Not only does it make the photograph look (as the name suggests) natural, but it also is the most flattering for both subjects. This is where planning comes into play once again, because if you arrive too late during the day or on a gloomy day, all opportunities with good lighting may be gone.
Equine photography is a challenging and even sometimes daunting task. However, whether you are working with a professional photographer or just trying to take some awesome shots with your phone, everything is possible with the right preparation. Make sure you know your goal, have a clear outfit in mind, relax, keep the background clean, and use natural lighting to your advantage. Whether the result ends up being a postcard-worthy photograph or something you would rather cherish for yourself, remember to enjoy the process as it is yet another precious moment with your horse.
By Sofya Krasikova, Cover Image: Malwina Proksza by Evelyn Hofmann Photography
Dflux, Anabel, and Dora Jokkel. “15 Horse Photography Tips for Beautiful Photos.” Expert Photography, 6 Jan. 2023, expertphotography.com/10-horse-photography-tips/.
Worthington, Jo. “My Top 5 Posing Tips for Your Equine Photo Shoot - Jo Worthington Photography.” Jo Worthington Photography - Business Branding Photographer, Jo Worthington Photography, 22 Apr. 2021, www.joworthingtonphoto.co.uk/my-top-5-posing-tips-for-your-equine-photo-shoot/.
Cooke, Alex. “10 Tips for Better Photos With Horses- Alex Cooke.”Alex Cooke- Cooke Studios, fstoppers 22 June 2020, fstoppers.com/education/10-tips-better-photos-horses-495215.