By: Kirstie Jones
Whether you’re planning to advertise in The Equine Chronicle or simply archiving memories as art in your home, it’s essential to book a portrait session for you and your horse. Your horse means the world to you. He is a teammate, a partner, and a member of the family. Documenting your relationship will guarantee that you have memories to cherish for generations to come!
So, where to start?
It’s important to choose a photographer who specializes in equine photography. Do your research on professionals in the industry and make sure that their style and personality match yours. It may be beneficial if the photographer is located near your horse to avoid additional travel fees. However, many photographers are willing to travel, and do so often.
Hiring a photographer is an investment, and the return appreciates exponentially over time. Get a strong understanding of the package you are purchasing before you book a photo session.
Things to consider:
• Does the fee only include the time during the session?
• Does the fee include a print credit?
• Does the fee include the printing rights to the photos?
• Can you use the photos in advertisements or do you need to pay extra?
• Can you post the photos to social media sites?
• Will the photographer bring an assistant?
Setting expectations and understanding the package you purchase from your photographer is a critical step in making sure you are thrilled with the results from your session. Ask how far out the photographer books in advance, and pay your deposit to secure your date.
Already booked your session? Great! Now it’s time to…
Go shopping- You don’t need to buy all new clothes; you can go shopping in your own closet! Get together a mix of outfits to keep your options open. Collect some bright pieces, some neutral pieces, lots of layers, and lots of jewelry. “Shop” through Pinterest, The Equine Chronicle, and fashion blogs to get a sense of what types of outfits photograph well and wear something that reflects your personal style, personality, and your horse’s coat color. Get three to six outfit variations prepared. If you’re having a hard time deciding which outfit to wear, talk to your photographer! The most important thing is to feel comfortable and confident in your clothing.
Think about posing– It’s your photographer’s job to pose you. However, they aren’t mind-readers! If you have something in mind that you are dying to try – tell them! Start a Pinterest board that you can share with your photographer before the shoot to make sure everyone is on the same page.
What time of day? Talk to your photographer, because they will likely have a preference. The word photography is derived from Greek roots which mean “drawing with light.” The light source, location, and time of day all factor into the final image you will receive. Some photographers prefer to shoot in the afternoon when the light is strong. Others prefer to shoot near sunset when the light is softer. If the sun isn’t shining – don’t fret! Overcast weather produces beautiful photographs because the sun is diffused into even light.
Practice makes perfect- Spend time thinking about the look you’re hoping to achieve with your session and prepare to make that a reality. If you’d love bareback loping pictures or posing with your horse bridleless, it’s probably a good idea to practice those skills beforehand in the same location as the shoot. Practicing beforehand will help ensure that everyone is comfortable and ready for your session. Plus, you may even learn a few tricks for getting your horse’s ears forward during the process.
Get everything ready- Treat yourself to a manicure/pedicure, because the camera lens sees everything! Avoid spray tans if you can, unless you’re confident that it will give you an even tan. Prepare your horse like you would for a horse show. Pull out the tack you want to use and make sure it’s clean. Decide what tack you want photographed: show halters, show bridles, show saddles, etc. Just like prepping for a horse show, go ahead and bathe, band, and spot clean your horse. Your outfits should be laid out and ironed the night before.
The Day of the Shoot
Be early– Get to the barn with plenty of time to spare and bring extra hands for help. Your photographer should bring an assistant to the shoot to help get your horse’s ears forward, but it’s always helpful to have more hands to keep you and your horse looking flawless. Just like your horse show arena bag is filled with fly spray, a tail brush, lip gloss, and hand towels, you should have a photo bag with the same necessities!
Get your horse ready first- Longe them down for a long while. Horses always get more energy when they are out in the field and in front of the camera lens! Once they are tired, start getting them ready, just like you would for a horse show with hoof polish, bands, Pepi spray, and face polish. Once your horse is looking gorgeous, tie him up in his stall and get yourself ready. Do your hair and makeup, eat a snack, and put on your first outfit.
When the photographer arrives, just relax; laugh, smile, and let go. The most important part of a portrait session is to have fun. This is the time to kiss your pony, cuddle with your trusty steed, feel “Kate Upton” beautiful, and reflect on how much this horse means to you.
Enjoy your photos!
Kirstie Jones owns Kirstie Marie Photography, a fine art equine photography studio located in Dallas, Texas. You may recognize many of her stylish shots as they have appeared within the pages of The Equine Chronicle.