Article by: Shelley Paulson, Equestrian Photographer
We all love our horses and want to remember them forever, so we take lots and lots of photos of them! But the truth is, horses are not easy to photograph! Their long faces and bodies are prone to distortion, they don’t stand very still, and getting their ears up can be a challenge.
Here are 3 simple tips to help you make better photos of your horse. I’ll be sharing example photos I’ve taken of my own horse, Fritzie, a 10 year old solid paint bred mare.
Tip One: Find the Light
Light is everything in photography. In fact, even the word photography means “drawing with light”. Without enough light, your photos will be grainy. Horses don’t stand very still, so we need ample light so the camera can capture their movement.
I recommend photographing horses outdoors whenever possible. Put the sun behind you and the horse in front of you to capture colorful, sharp photos of your beautiful animal. Wait for “golden hour” just before sunset, and you will get a golden glow to the light.
Tip Two: Find a Flattering Angle
Photographer Chase Jarvis coined the phrase, “The best camera is the one you have with you.” He was, of course, referring to our cell phones.
But the big challenge in photographing horses with a cell phone cameras is that the built in cell phone lens is considered “wide angle.” Wide angle lenses make near things large and far things small. This means that when you photograph a horse straight on, he will have a large head and small body, especially if you are close.
The easiest way to solve this problem, is to turn your horse sideways, the wide angle distortion is minimized and your horse can look like a horse and not a bobble-head-giraffe.
If you are using a DSLR, or camera with a built in zoom lens, you simply need to step back and zoom in to solve the distortion problem. I generally recommend photographing horses at 100mm or more to keep their bodies in proportion.
Tip Three: Get the Ears Up
Let’s face it, horses look better with their ears forward – it’s like the equivalent of a smile in humans. But you can exhaust yourself dancing around with treats and buckets of grain, trying to get your horse to put their ears up. I have a simple technique that works for virtually every horse – playing the sound of horse whinnies!
An equine photographer has even created a clever cell phone App called “All Ears Selfie” that plays various horse sounds (dog sounds too!) while also allowing you to be in camera mode! But be ready, some horses get excited when they hear the whinny of a stranger! http://www.allearsapp.com
Now that you have some fresh ideas how to take better photos of your horse, get out there and do it! We can never take too many photos of the ones we love!
Shelley Paulson is a Minnesota-Based Equestrian photographer, specializing in creating meaningful images that capture the emotional bond between people and their horses. http://www.shelleypaulson.com