Photographing horses can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it can also be challenging. Here are some tips to help you capture great photos of horses:
- Use natural light: Horses look best when photographed in natural light, such as early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Avoid harsh midday sun, which can create unflattering shadows and make the horse appear washed out. I like late afternoon the best, often called the golden hour. I have seen some very creative work done with flash but I prefer the natural light look.
- Get to know the horse: Spend some time observing the horse’s behavior before attempting to photograph it. This will help you anticipate its movements and capture more natural and interesting shots. This is the part I enjoy the most. Upon arrival I scout out a location, but I also look the horse over and look for features I am attracted to. I make a connection, letting them smell me and my camera. I click the shutter a few times to have them hear that noise as well.
- Use a fast shutter speed: Horses are fast-moving animals, so you’ll need to use a fast shutter speed to freeze their motion and avoid blurry photos. A shutter speed of at least 1/1000th of a second is recommended although I have gotten many great shots with lower shutter speeds.
- Focus on the eyes: The eyes are the most expressive part of the horse’s face, so make sure they are in sharp focus. Use a wide aperture to create a shallow depth of field and blur the background, drawing attention to the horse’s eyes. There’s also typically a lot of distractions in the background- so the blurring of the background can help to not pull your eye off the true subject- the horse!
- Experiment with angles: Try shooting from different angles to create more dynamic and interesting compositions. Get down low to shoot from the horse’s level, or try shooting from above to capture its full form. It all happens very fast, so take some time and try unique shots-even if you end up tossing them later.
- Be patient: Horses can be unpredictable, so be patient and prepared to wait for the right moment. Don’t be afraid to take multiple shots to increase your chances of capturing a great photo.
By following these tips and practicing your photography skills, you can capture beautiful and memorable photos of horses. Sometimes the most solemn shots like the one below can really represent the horse best.
Jody Miller is a professional photographer specializing in Horse Photography and Western Lifestyle Photography. Her work can be viewed online here in her gallery section, and she is also featured at these Arizona Galleries: Van Gogh’s Ear Gallery on Whiskey Row in Prescott, AZ and Coops Coffee House at Talking Rock Ranch. Several images are also available at The Phippen Western Art Museum