Neu Perspectives

Get the Picture

From fighting flies to waiting for the perfect lighting, taking photos of your horse is rarely as simple as you think it will be.

It’s time to take photos of your horse.

Maybe you want to take advantage of this strong market we’ve all experienced and have sale photos to post that take prospective buyers from scrolling…scrolling…scrolling to, “Whoa! Back up! What’s that beast? I must own that horse.” Maybe the American Quarter Horse Association FINALLY called you back, and you need to submit new registration photos. Or perhaps you just want to capture glamour shots of your favorite four-legged partner when he’s looking exceptionally good. 

Today is the day. Your gelding is slick, fat, fit and we have a sunny, clear week ahead. You’ve got him washed, you have the Canon out and the SD card is cleared. 

What more could you need? 
The right kind of lovely assistant, of course. 

And how wonderful the right “equine photography placement & expression associate” can be! This post is meant to highlight the difficulties of this job, the appreciation we appointed picture-takers have for the right kind of helper, and a reminder of the fact that no matter how in-line everything else might be, your assistant can truly make or break the shoot’s success. 

The best kind of assistant is savvy and moldable. It’s better to have someone that maybe knows less about horses but likes you fairly well and takes direction without getting offended.  Ideally, I like having someone who has taken photos of horses and understands the struggle and the fact that we may have to move feet, backgrounds and angles 43 times without feeling fulfilled. And if not that, someone who will work for ice cream is a pretty good bet, too.    

Get their ears up, but don’t spook ‘em. I know you love when all four legs are perfectly lined up, but from my end, he looks like a saddlebred, and he needs to stagger his feet. Don’t have an opinion, just listen. Unless I want your opinion, then have one. 

The assistant has to let the photographer’s frustrations slide like water off a duck’s back. It’s not personal. Listen, try to be helpful, but don’t feel like it’s an attack if their body language seems a bit irked. Taking the best photos possible of a horse is frustrating, no matter what. Generally, when I have to do it, it’s something easily distracted by a cyclist, kids on a pony, dogs tearing around the yard, cattle in the brush, etc. 

There’s my shot. Nope, cloud over the sun. Wait… wait… Here we go. There’s my shot. Nope, now the gelding is flipping his tail. DAMN THE FLIES! Fly spray that horse, please, but don’t make him streaky. Fix that wisp of mane that’s blowing. 

If you’ve been hired for the job — a recording of another horse whinnying works wonders. Bring your patience, good humor, sunscreen and a flask. Sometimes, a buddy horse is a good idea if you have to be far from all the others. A bucket of grain can be a good way to get ears forward too. 

Don’t train on the horse. Goodness, have I ever learned this. Bless my husband and all of his efforts and knowledge, but I’ve found that the more you train on a half-feral yearling while you’re trying to make him look his best, the more he wiggles and reacts anytime you try to fix a slight imperfection. Just get through the photo shoot and then work on getting his hips freer. Please. I beg you. 

Taking pics of horses is not for the fainthearted, nor for the solo. If you aren’t a photographer, don’t have the right sort of help handy or just don’t see the appeal in the process, your best bet is to hire a photographer that you know and trust to get the job done. 

But remember … this might mean that YOU have to be their assistant for the day. 
(Don’t forget the fly spray!)

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