Jitterbug's Guide To Being Photographed By Your Human

Sep 11, 2015 - 12:34 AM
See? Perfect photo, except for the ears. Never look like you're enjoying the process. Photo by Dark Horse Photography

If you are a trainer of Humans in this day and age, you’ve probably noticed that they are unusually obsessed with their Dumb Phones, and equally obsessed with taking photos of everything from their alarming makeup jobs to their fattening brunches/gravyfests.

Unfortunately for Quadrupeds, this probably means they fancy themselves photographers, and that they will almost certainly try to capture our likeness in pixels. Consider this a teaching experience that will not only make the biped a better photographer, but a better Human.

(These tips applicable to Humans of all skill levels; in fact, I perfected them during my many shoots with professional photographers clamoring to get images of me. I suspect they were interested in selling them to the tabloids.)

  1. Check to see that the lens is clear. If the Human is using a conventional camera, chances are good that she will be so excitable at the prospect of taking your picture that she will forget to remove the lens cap. If she has remembered it this time, she will probably forget it next time. It’s best to find your opportunity and chew that pesky thing right off. Sneezing on the lens is sure to remind her to wipe it down.

    If the Human is using a mobile phone to photograph you, you have my sympathies. Depending upon her level of technology savvy, she may struggle to keep her fingers clear of the lens. I can’t recommend that you chew the fingers off, but I will say that this does take care of the problem.

  2.  Make sure she is using the right shooting mode. Test this by making repeated, exaggerated movements with your head, neck, and feet. I’m fond of the “Reach for the Sky” nose flip and the “Four-Legged Hopscotch” moves. I also like to throw in a few “Hair Metal Head Bangs” for good measure.

    Incidentally, this also teaches the Human patience, as even with Sports Mode, it’s unlikely that she will be able to get many shots that don’t look like a Picasso watercolor. Patience is one of the toughest lessons for most Humans to learn, so she may as well start now.

  3. Interact with your set. Any good fashion model will tell you that it’s completely uninspiring to just stand on your mark and smile. I like to pull in whatever props I can to make the scene more interesting. Grass. Tree branches. The tail of that possum that keeps waddling through my paddock. Poo. Adding poo to most any situation makes a great statement.
  4. Demand quality. If I ever meet the person who introduced Millennials to the notion of the “selfie,” I am going to give him the double barrel tattoo he deserves. If you demand excellence in everything from your Human’s boot polishing job to her memorization of that lame-o walk/trot dressage test, you deserve more than a blurry shot of your left nostril on Instagram. Fortunately, most Humans struggle to get the entire equine face and their own mug into a frame without lowering the phone, giving me plenty of opportunity to place my head in front of barn lights or sunshine, obliterating the shot.
  5. Show your best side. I am best photographed straight-on from the front, both for headshots and at-liberty, wild-pony-on-the-moor type shots. I’ve found the best way to communicate this to the photographer is by barreling toward her as quickly as possible. This ensures she is using the right shooting mode (See Item 2), and also encourages her to run off a few Oreos.
  6. Use the shoot as a teaching opportunity. Most any situation with your Human can be a metaphor for life, and a photography shoot is no different. I like to use photo sessions to remind Bipeds that perfection only exists in theory, but not in practice.

    The easiest way to do this? Only prick one ear at a time. If the Humans pull out silly string, animal noise apps on their phones, begin waving their arms, or start doing jumping jacks in front of you, I first advise that you have a friend filming their antics because let’s face it, that’s pretty hilarious.

    Secondly, remember to look with your eyes and not with your ears. Ears should stay at a 45-degree angle back from the vertical at all times. If you must give something a listen, move one ear forward and put on some stink eye for good measure. 

  7. Keep them to your deadline. I really don’t have the spare time to spend hours posing for photographers, professional or hopeless (read: my Human and her dopey friends). I set a timeframe for each photo session, and firmly cut things off after it has passed. Generally, I’ve found 30 to 40 seconds for each shoot should be enough. If they haven’t gotten their shot by then, I’m sure their Twitter followers can survive just fine with an image of my retreating hiney. 

Jitterbug is a Michigan-bred Professional Draft Cross who skillfully avoided saddles until age 5. Since then, she has been lauded for her talent in successfully managing humans while training herself to one day achieve eventing greatness. Jitter and her human live in central Kentucky. Photo by Dark Horse Photography.



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