Dress for success
Of course, you always want to be comfortable when you're having photos done. Don't buy an outfit if you don't feel totally like yourself in it. I personally love flowy outfits - you don't want what you're wearing to be so tight that you can't move freely. Earthy tones go so well with horses. I love the inspiration by French photographer, Greg Finck in the above photos. Be mindful of footwear - I will not photograph a person wearing flipflops or open toed shoes. Yes, you want to be pretty in your photos - but you also want to be safe. Safety is always the number one priority. Blundstones are a great option.
Treats may be one of the most important things to bring to an equestrian session. The incredible photos of a horse nuzzling into the rider, all cozy and lovable: that person was holding a treat in their hand. You won't want to bring apples or carrots, though. Apples get your horses mouth white and foamy, and carrots get them orange. Bring those little horse-grain treats instead or peppermints. You should have a towel handy, just in case.
Bring in the Reinforcements
You're going to need to have an extra pair of hands. You'll need someone to hold that towel and bag of treats for you, of course. And you'll also need someone to hold onto your horse if you want to do a quick outfit change or if you need someone to fix your tack. Think of it just as having a groom with you when you're heading into the ring at a horse show. Plus, an extra set of eyes is always great to make sure all details are in order.
Location is a huge component of photography. It's ideal to shoot somewhere with lots of space. It's super fun to explore different parts of the barn during your photoshoot, because lighting and composition varies so much depending on where you are and where the sun is at that time. For example, when I am doing the Restless Pines Farm sessions, we start by the paddocks, head to the trail behind the farm, and finish off in the riding ring. These three locations all offer completely different photos. You'll get so much more out of your album if we’re able to explore different areas during your session.
We also do not have to do your photos at the farm. Owl's Ridge Farm has hosted their equestrian sessions at the beach down the road. Their horses are used to going to the beach, so it was no surprise for them. If you've got incredible trails, that could be a fun option as well. Be open to areas around your farm that you like to hack to. We have so many beautiful views in Nova Scotia.
The time of day for photos is also incredibly important. The two best times are sunrise and sunset. Sunrise is probably the most impressive - but it can be hard to get up so early. If you're up for it though, I guarantee your photographer will be up for it as well! Light is incredible early in the morning. The majority of my equestrian sessions are in the morning because there are significantly less mosquitos.
Seasons would be another thing to mention. Consider the season you'd like to have your photos taken. If you want your session to being during the summer months, you must book early in advance. I can only fit one or two mini sessions into a summer season. Spring would be beautiful if you live somewhere with gorgeous spring blossoms, but it can be tricky in most areas since it is mud season. Fall might be one of my favorite seasons for horses. Winter can be tricky - since horses have their winter coats - which brings me to a bonus point…
Your horse absolutely has to be properly groomed. No exceptions. You can even clip a few days before if it’s the fall or spring, as you would for a horseshow. You'll want to bathe your horse before the photos, but make sure they have ample time to be dry. The sunset will really reflect poorly off your horse wet coat, so be sure to dry them properly.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read this blog post, I hope it’s been helpful. If you have any questions, please reach out. And if you'd like to learn more about my Equestrian Sessions, please send me a message. I'd love to come photograph the connection between you and your horses.