The art of equine - how to photograph horses (Part two)
This is the second part of a two part series on equine photography. You can see part one, from last week, here.
5. Trick or treat
A horse always looks better when it ‘pops’. This means the horse has its ears forward, eyes bright and it looks lively and alert! To do this, there are several tricks I use.
Firstly, use a ringtone app like Zedge and download horse sounds onto your phone. You can use these to get the horse to pay attention and look around for where the ‘other horse’ is. Google is also good for horse neighs.
In barn shoots, I will occasionally use a mirror to grab the horse’s attention. You will find that many stallions like looking at themselves in the mirror as they think that it is another horse, and when they see one, they come alive.
I use a bucket of feed and have someone shake it behind me, or even get another horse to walk or stand behind me to make the horse more interested and get the expression I am after.
Finally, remember, that horses are animals, and they don’t understand what we are asking of them photographically. It is up to you, the photographer, to draw it from them, encourage and be kind to the horse.
At the end of the shoot, give them a treat if the owner doesn’t mind. They deserve a reward and positive reinforcement. Or maybe it’s just that I like spoiling horses!
6. The finer details
Horses are big, however they have the most beautiful fine features that present great photo opportunities.
Their long eyelashes and velvety noses, and their long willowy manes that create beautiful movement in the wind.
Even their whiskers look beautiful when they catch the light. Try to capture these details as they can be great to add to the wider ‘hero’ images you capture.
7. Get low and go, go, go!
When shooting portraits, I tend to shoot at a low angle and at a distance where the horses head fills the frame. This creates a much more attractive perspective of the horse and helps to eliminate background distraction. I do the same for three quarter and full body shots.
If I am shooting sport, I will mainly be shooting at standing height, however I do go down low to get interesting perspectives from time to time. As I said earlier, play with your camera angles and perspectives and mix it up. Sometimes you will create a little magic you didn’t expect.
To be honest, I could write another 10,000 words on equine photography and still not covered all I want to share with you on the subject. However, I hope what I have shared gives you a start on capturing your equine subjects with a little more confidence. Happy shooting! ❂
About the author: Katie Mendl is an Australian based equine photographer, living on a property outside of Cambooya, Qld. She has been a professional photographer for 10 years, dabbling in family portraiture, editorial, fashion and wedding photography, before eventually finding her way back to her first love, horses. She now specialises in Fine Art photography, commercial, event and product work solely in the field of Equestrian. See more of her work at calicopony.bigcartel.com.