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Top Tips For Equine Photography

I'm sure you're wondering why a photographer would be doing a post like this, but it's simply because there are every day moments that deserve to be captured! Most people have access to a camera these days - be it on your phone or a digital camera. Here are just a few simple tricks to improve the images you're taking; whether you want to snap some better pictures of your horse enjoying looking handsome, some candid shots of your dog playing or even some simple shots to post on your business social media account.

I won't let this post go on about why you should be hiring a professional photographer - I'm talking about the scenarios from each day that you want to be remembered. And informal shots look great on your business account too - showing the side of the business that not everyone will be aware of.

As usual, there are no set rules in art, and sometimes they are there to be broken, but here are a few things to get you started:

Tip number 1:

Keep the horizon straight! It sound relatively simple, but keep an eye on the background of your images (bonus tip: make sure the background isn't cluttered!) and ensure that any horizon lines are straight - be it an arena fence line, a tree line in the background or the dividing line between the grass and the sky. Sometimes spotting the horizon line is hard, especially if the foliage is at varying heights, in that case just take the "average" height, and set that part of your image as the centre. Having a level image to look at is so much more appealing to the viewer. Of course, there are times when this "rule" is broken: an image of rolling fields, an unusual angle or hills!

On this image, I'm using the dark blue join in the woods above Abi's head as my "horizon line" .. look how off putting it could be if it were wonky!

Tip number 2:

If you're taking action shots of your horse, be sure to photograph them on the "correct stride." It can take a bit of practise to get these right, it's much easier to photograph a horse with expressive paces, but it works with every horse! Whether they're playing in the field or being ridden at a competition, getting the shot of the perfect striding will make your photographs look much more appealing and flattering.

Believe it or not, walk is the hardest pace to get a photograph of. Keep an eye out for when that back foot is coming forward - the most correct image of a walk pace is where you can see all four legs of the horse, placed as evenly as possible.

Trot images are my favourite to get - imagine the 4 legs creating a "double A" shape - as the two beats of the trot happen, one front leg will be extended, whilst the opposite back leg is extended too.

To get the perfect canter shot, keep an eye on the inside hind leg. You want to take the image just as the hind leg reaches it's forward most extension, thus when the front leg comes up. "downhill" photographs of the horses are really unflattering. It may take you a while to get the images spot on each time! Here are a few outtakes to prove why getting that perfect stride is so important!

As you can see, his paces look really flat and confusing when I haven't clicked the shutter at the right point. He has the most beautiful paces and uphill frame, just clicking at that split moment too early or too late can really affect how the image looks!

(Image one - half pass, I missed the crossing over of either the front or back legs. Image two - medium trot, I did not get Tom at full extension, I got him just after he'd completely extended. Image three - canter, the image was not taken when Tom's poll was at the highest point, where he would be more uphill, instead I got him coming "down" and flat which is no reflection of how he was actually moving, just because I clicked the shutter a few moments too late!)

When it comes to getting images of a horse in gallop, I have several favourite "poses" - the horse fully stretched out, and tucked up - hopefully with all 4 legs off the ground! Play around with the angles of the shots too, get low on your belly, photograph the horse side on or even at a slight angle. Gallop images look particularly striking side on as you can really see the horse's full power and muscles!

Tip number 3:

If you're taking photographs of a horse, make sure they look happy! I like to think horses are smiling when their ears are forward? If you look closely, when their ears are forward, they open their eyes just that little bit wider, their expression softens and in general, they look more content! The littlest things will get their attention - play around with what gets your horses ears pricked forward. Rustling packets normally does the trick, but sometimes you might have to be a little inventive with what you use!

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