Horses are a special subject to photograph. They are not the same as dogs and most often they will not sit on command. In this blog I will explain you how to make portraits of horses with success.
Horses are known as gracious animals with "blue blood", so when photographing them you want to make them look gracious too. It often helps to photograph the horse while it is standing in a natural position and per horse it can differ what you need to do to reach a beautiful pose with much expression. During my shoots I've experienced anxious horses that need to be calmed down, but I've also had very introvert horses/horses that are not interested that easily. In that case I use instruments like horse sounds, plastic bags and candy.
Gear is an important factor in making a good quality photo. Try to use a telelens, starting at 135 mm - why? Telelenses have a minimum of distortion. A 70-200mm 2.8 lens is most ideal for horse photography as it is very light sensitive, gives you the possibility to zoom (handy for portrait and action), and the big diaphragm allows you to create a beautiful soft background. As many
photographers say, your glass is the most important. This does not mean that your camera is not important not at all. An ideal camera is one with a good and fast autofocus, but if you do not have the budget, rather go for a great lens and a medium camera than a great camera and a medium lens. Regarding fastness and autofocus you then can count the rhythm of the horse and shoot on timing.
Personally I use the Sony a7III with the Sony G-Master 70-200 2.8.
2. Your model & location
Make sure your model is ready. I always give my clients/models tips in advance, such as the horse
should be cleaned and groomed and we discuss the location. Regarding the location I shoot on the stable, then I ask the client to look for a potential place at the stable and send me photos in advance, or I do shoots outdoors on the beach or in the forest.
Make sure that the poses of the horse are elegant, having a horse straight in front of the lens will often not look beautiful and the horse may even look skinny. Often it will help if you put the hind of the horse a bit inwards and the shoulders outwards (opening the shoulders). Not every horse will be replaced that easily, try to use horse sounds in the direction of which you want the horse to look and replace yourself. I always use photohalters, I use the one from Emma Emmerelle, which is very secure and easy to use. So when editing I can remove the halter.
P.S. try to make the horse bend its neck, that will make the horse look more elegant and gracious, try to use branches and leaves on the ground so the horse will bow his head low and not take a giraffe pose.
4. Your own position
With portraits I personally do not like to go on a too low position like action shots, it often makes the horse bigger and can make the horse's under neck big (giraffe position) which does not make the horse look elegant. I personally stay on eye position or a little lower.
My biggest tip: BE PATIENT!
A horse is no dog, it will not just pose on command, especially not if he/she is away from the herd. Try to make the horse comfortable in the situation and try to use its natural positions. And, shoot a lot!
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to email me or to send me a pm through Facebook or Instagram!