4 Pointers for Equine Portraits

I’m so excited! And I just can’t hide it… okay, enough of that. But really – I am super pumped about bringing a new segment regarding equine photography to My Stable Life!! Travis Rodgers of TJ Photography has agreed to help readers learn how to operate their cameras creatively and more effectively, using horses as our subjects!

(And I promise to stop using so many exclamation marks now…!!)

You might remember Travis from a month or so ago. He so kindly allowed me to post some other random pics he snapped at the Reining Alberta Summer Classic. Travis is the mastermind behind such shots as:

And this:

In the following 4 bits of advice, Travis will share some of his best trade secrets. And as we go along, I will reveal some of my worst pictures and cutlines in third person context – proving the point that if you listen to our cherished photog’s suggestions, you won’t have to end up posting pictures like mine on your website, or Facebook page or anywhere else you choose to market your ponies!

So without further adieu, let’s get to it:

TRAVIS RODGERS (TR): I would like to thank Jenn Webster for asking us to contribute to her blog (Aw shucks <grin>), and allowing us to give you some tips that may aid you in taking some great photos of your horses.  A great photo is a huge selling tool in any way that you are marketing your horse; so let’s discuss a couple of things to help you achieve that excellent shot.

1. Right Camera

The most important thing that you will need when taking photos of your horse is the right camera.  The type of Camera best suited for this type of Photography is a Digital SLR of some kind. The reason these cameras work so well is that they do not have a delay when you push the Shutter button. This is very important to Catch those ears, and get a photo in the split second that the horse may actually stand correctly for the photo.  Another reason to use this type of camera is because of the interchangeable lenses, and the ability to completely control your camera’s settings.  It is not important that you have a Professional SLR; one of my favorite cameras I recommend for beginner photographers is the Canon Rebel XSi.  It is a reasonably priced camera that you can get some really great results with!

2. Proportion

The next thing to remember when taking a portrait of your horse is that your horse needs to look proportioned. When you set your horse up for the photo remember that whatever is closest to the camera looks the biggest. There are many different ways to set the horse up for a photo, which we will discuss at another time, but for now you can take a picture of the horse from any angle that you choose. Whichever way you have decided to set the horse up, you must remember that the number one thing you must do to get the proper proportion is to stand back and zoom in.  This will require that you have a zoom lense for your camera.  My favorite lense for this type of Photo is the 70-200 2.8.  This will really help to make sure your horse does not have a giant head etc. in the photo, and that your photo will compliment your horse.

Despite the fact that this is a pretty horse in real life, Jenn missed the mark here. The horse is not set up according to its proportions, therefore she looks like she has an ewe-neck and ugly throatlatch.

3. Backdrop

The next most important thing is to ensure you have a nice backdrop that is not cluttered with buildings or a bunch of junk. Also you want to make sure that there is ample distance between your horse and the backdrop you have chosen. This will separate your horse from the background, and will make the horse the main subject in the photo, and not the beautiful tree you have stood him in front of. A great type of background is an open pasture with some trees off in the distance.

This is an early photo of Jenn Webster's. Unfortunately since the horse is standing so close to the cactus, it looks like it is growing out of the horse's withers.

4. Light

The last thing that we are going to talk about when setting up this photo is where the light should be.  The light – being in almost all cases – the sun, should be directly behind you and shooting onto the horse. This will ensure that you avoid a lense flare from shooting directly into the sun, and it will also make the horse stand out more without shadow.

Here is one of Travis’ shots that meets all the criteria mentioned above:

2010 Dunalino Filly "Jacs Electrick Slide" Sired By: Jacs Okie Pine and out of: Ms Electric Sparkler (by Jacs Electric Spark).

YOUR HOMEWORK:

Take this info and try a few shots, if you follow these simple rules you are already on your way to taking a great portrait of your horse that will catch any buyer’s eye!

Next time on My Stable Life, we will go more in depth on the different ways to set the horse up for the photos, but until then send some of your great photos to Jenn (dkedit@telusplanet.net), and the shots that we determine best follow the instruction will be posted on My Stable Life!

Happy Shooting!

– Travis Rodgers
TJ Photography
www.tj-Photography.com or visit us on Facebook

Upcoming Entries
* How to properly set your horse up for different Portraits
* Getting the most out of your Camera using the Manual Settings

Comments

  1. Nice work Travis – thank you so much for sharing. Your website is wonderful.

  2. Excellent advice, keep it coming!!

  3. Thanks so much Travis. This information is sooooo useful. I appreciate very much.
    Sincerely
    J. Follett

  4. Lorna Gauthier says:

    Great tips! Looking forward to learning more! Thanks!

  5. Thanks for the tips! I have been looking for the right answers and have somewhere to start! Great article!

  6. I’m going out to practice right now!!

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