Photo Shoots 101

Feb 14, 2011 - 10:35 AM
Tres is always happy to model for the camera. Photo by Sara Lieser.

One restless night a few weeks ago, I decided that instead of tossing and turning, I’d write an article for Dressage Today. Yep, that is the odd, twisted way my brain works. Whatever.

It was an idea that had been thumping around in my head for a while, and so I wrote it and sent it off, and they liked it! So I got a call from the managing editor last week to arrange a photo shoot for the articles (there are actually two), and we scheduled it for Thursday of last week.

The dieting commenced. I went to the gym. Tres, one of the two I’d be riding for the shoot, got body clipped again. And Monday, editor Hilary stopped by and said hey, can we do this on Tuesday instead of Thursday?


But of course, because let’s be honest—two more days of eating mostly vegetables wasn’t really going to make a difference anyway.

Fortunately, Sue Stickle takes photos that are so beautiful, no one will notice my winter insulation (I hope). Sue is a dear friend who I totally adore, and the shoot was more like fun than work.

Ella was up first—to illustrate the exercises in the first article, on riding the hot horse—and, as such, was totally lazy and relaxed, and I actually had to kick a little. But she was great, and totally forgave me for the bath I had to give her, in cold water, at 7 a.m. She made beautiful work, and looked great. That horse is SO nice.

Tres was up next, as my model for the second of the two articles, on riding the cold horse. The irony is that Tres is not actually “cold,” and certainly wasn’t that day—he felt amazing! Forward, sensitive, light to the aids. My horses crack me up. He did a wonderful job with his exercises, and then Sue played a little, to get some stock photos of his big fluffy mane. He loved being a supermodel!

I’ve done photo shoots before, but I learned a few new things on this one.

  • Color matters. Wear a pastel colored shirt, not white, which blends into the sky. No black breeches either; they’ll blend into your saddle.
  • When you’re riding towards the camera, the horse who is on the bit with the poll the highest point often looks like they’re behind the vertical, or with the poll too low. 
  • No logos or emblems on your saddle pad. Sometimes a photo needs to be “flipped” for a spread; if all the good photos you take are tracking left, for example, the editor might want to flip a few to look like you’re tracking right. If you’ve got a logo on your pad, it won’t flip easily.
  • My personal favorite: no fundies! If you’re wearing white or light colored breeches, we’ll be able to see your orange polka dot underwear. Wardrobe malfunction!
  • Last but certainly not least: smile!

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