Have you just started photographing horses, or just want to learn some quick tips and tricks? Then you have come to the right place! In this blog, I would like to share some of my personal tips when it comes to photographing horses. As we all know, horses are unpredictable animals, so knowing how to be able to freeze and capture a special moment, is a big factor in photographing these precious creatures. Here are my tips and tricks to photographing horses!
Clean horse – It is important to always start with a clean horse. If the horse is not clean, groom it well so that there will be no dirt visible when photographing. It is important that there are no stains, as mud or any other kinds of dirt will be a disturbing element in your photo.
Lens use – An optical zoom lens is what gives me the best result in photographing. What I use is a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens which is able zoom in a great deal. Stand around five to ten meters away from your horse and zoom in. This will cause the background to be blurry and will create a soft and professional look.
Shutter speed – A fast shutter speed is always important when photographing horses. If the horse spooks, jumps or starts running, you’ll need a fast shutter to freeze the moment. With a slow shutter, the photos will most likely just get blurred.
Background choices – Use a clean background, preferable nature. Keep the background plain with no disturbing elements as fences, buckets or anything that will cause disturbance. What I do is to bring the horse and model to a place where there is either mountains in the far background, a forest or a field. That way it will be even easier to create a blurry background(because of the distance from the horse to the objects behind him).
Lighting – Lighting is an important factor in any photo. To create a silhouette, place the horse and/or model between the camera and the sun. This will create a light background and a dark object(horse), which will result in a silhouette. For better silhouette results, photograph in the sunset or sunrise! The best weather for photographing(my own opinion) is when the sun is slightly covered by cloud. This will create a soft, but still light photo with details. Shooting in the broad daylight on the other hand, will create sharp shadows and a great deal of contrast(what is bright will be brighter, what is dark will be darker) which will create too much contrast and is not what I prefer when photographing – I would rather add more contrast when editing the photo later.
Perspectives – Shoot your photos from a frog perspective, get down on your knees and hold your camera at about the height of the chest/shoulder of the horse you are photographing. Notice that if you go too far low down, the legs will look longer, but if you go too far up, the legs will look shorter.
Attention, ears forward – Get your horse’s full attention. One of my great tricks is to download horse sounds in to your phone. Have a variety of whinnies and snorts to play. This will get your horse’s attention, and ears will most likely prick forward wherever he may look.
Be innovative – Try new and different angles of the horse and model(if you have a model with the horse).
Be careful – Remember to be careful! Don’t put yourself, the horse or the model in any unnecessary danger. The model’s poses can be done on the horse’s back, on the side or in front of the horse. Placing yourself under the horse is risky and I do not recommend doing so. Remember that a horse is a wild animal, and there is not much that will come in between a horse’s fight or flight instincts.
Have fun – Make the best out of the photo session. The more fun you have(both photographer, horse and model), the better photos you will be able create!