So you’ve researched and chosen your photographer, paid your booking fee, picked a date- Now what? Well now it’s time to prepare for your session, of course! I’m going to offer you some tips and tricks to ensure you get the most out of your photo session.
Freshen up your groundwork
There’s nothing more frustrating for a horse owner wanting beautiful portraits of their animals than a horse that just Wont. Stand. Still. Work on that whoa, watch some YouTube videos of halter horse training, practice just standing still. You (and your photographer!!) will have a much better time during your session.
Clean your tack
If you are planning on having your horse tacked up for your photoshoot, make sure that leather is supple and conditioned, the silver is polished and shining, and all of that dust is gone. Be sure everything fits properly before your shoot so you can save time and stress the day of.
Choose your outfits
Think of the style you are going for with your session. Western show clothes photograph very well if you are going for a more polished look. Make sure everything is clean and pressed and your hat is properly shaped. English attire without a helmet always looks beautiful and classic. If you are going for a more relaxed look, choose a button down shirt that compliments your horse and a nice pair of jeans. Be sure your boots are cleaned and polished if they are the polishing type. Be sure to wear clothes that flatter your body type and try those clothes on before your session. If you are uncomfortable in them just standing around your room I can promise you that you will be very self-conscious wearing them during your session.
Declutter your barn
Put away those winter blankets hanging on your stall fronts, sweep your aisleways, dust off those cobwebs. If you are having your session around your barn you want it to look it’s best and a pile of old feed bags is just going to take away from the overall look of your images. Don’t leave it up to your photographer to photoshop things out!
Groom your horse
This should be a given, but go ahead and groom that horse. Give him a bath and be liberal with the show sheen. Pull his mane if that is your style so he has a fresh look. Make sure you clean out his ears, condition his mane and tail, and if its possible leave them wrapped until just before your shoot so he looks neat and tidy. Polish those hooves, and have cornstarch available for any white patches to make them really pop! Groom your horse as if you are getting him ready for a world level show.
Us horse people are guilty of putting all of our time and effort into our horses while saving very little energy for ourselves! It’s not a bad idea to invest in professional hair and makeup- but make sure you have it done AFTER you get your horse ready. Try out different hair styles before your session to see what you are going to like best. Try neutral colors of makeup to freshen up your look, and keep your favorite powder and hairspray at the ready during your photoshoot for quick touchups.
Recruit a friend
Getting ready for an equine photoshoot is often times like getting ready for a horse show. Having a friend available to help with the dirtier parts of getting ready will help keep you and your horse looking your best. Ask if they would be willing to stay for the duration of the session to help keep the horses attention, get ears up, reposition them, etc. They can help with tack and outfit changes and if your session involves multiple horses you can never have enough hands to get them into position!
Communicate with your photographer
If you have specific shots in mind that you want to take, go ahead and write them down! A shot list can help the day run more smoothly and give your photographer an idea for the type of session you are after. Make sure you discuss with your photographer beforehand about the style you are after. Are there certain attributes of your horse you want to capture? Things you want to avoid? Discuss these things both before your session and the day of to ensure all of your photography needs and wants are met!
Know what you’re doing with your images
What is your plan with your images? Are they business headshots? Pictures for a stallion card? Images you want to display in your home? Are they going to be used in a magazine or other publication? Make sure you let your photographer know ahead of time what you plan on doing with your images so that they can be sure you have the correct type of release to go along with those images. Ask your photographer the difference between a personal print release and a copyright release so you can be well educated about how you can and can not use your images.
Remember that your session is supposed to be a fun event. The more relaxed you are the more natural your smiles will look in your photographs. These tips I have offered you above will hopefully help make your session go smoothly and efficiently and will ensure the images captured are the best they could possibly be! Have some other ideas about getting ready for an equine portrait session? Let me know in the comments below so we can add them to the list!