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Photographing Horses...

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  • Photographing Horses...

    I thought I'd post this here since you all get such lovely confo shots.

    I can not for the life of me get good conformation photos of my horses. It MUST be the angle I'm trying to shoot from- they always look like they have super long backs and short necks, or vice versa. My horses are really not the conformational train wrecks that my photographs seem to convey...

    What are your best tips for getting good photos??

    Can anyone post examples of "good" vs "bad" angles??

    I think I'm photography challenged...

  • #2
    Here ya go!

    Home of Welsh Cob stallion Goldhills Brandysnap
    Also home to Daventry Equine Appraisals & Equine Expert Witness


    • #3
      I would like to add "watch and learn" in the sense that you really look at those pictures you like vs. the ones you dislike and figure out why they give you that feeling.
      In riding a horse we borrow freedom!

      Photography by. Eventing Photo and my fun farm at YouTube


      • #4
        I think a lot of great shots involve two things (well and like 100 other things, but I'm only mentioning two) -- get across from the horse's barrel, and BEND YOUR KNEES, or even kneel.

        I have ponies, and take almost all of my pictures of them on my knees. Otherwise you get this weird "looking down on them" angle that makes their legs look weirdly short.

        I think pictures look best when the camera is aimed at the middle of the horse -- and I mean the "up and down" and "side to side" middle. Sometimes easier said than done of course!
        Family Partners Welsh Ponies - Home of Section B Welsh stallion *Wedderlie Mardi Gras LOM/AOE http://www.welshponies.com
        Click here to buy: A Guide To In Hand Showing of Your Welsh Pony


        • #5
          And sometimes, no matter what you do, it can be tough getting that spectacular conformation shot! Some horses just are not photogenic! And some, can't take an ugly photo <LOL>. But don't despair. You got some great suggestions here!
          Equine-Reproduction.com Now offering one on one customized training!
          Leg-Up Equestrian Assistance Program, Inc. A 501(c)(3) non-profit charity


          • #6
            There's also the issue of lens distortion- which can be really evident when photographing horses.
            Equestrian Photography


            • #7
              the real secret? call a professional EQUINE photographer. That's the only way I've ever gotten a decent picture. I don't have the equipment to get the really nice shots, or the skill, or the patience lol. If you have other horsie people in the area, sometimes you can get a good deal if you have them do shoots for several people in an area, or at the same farm.
              "Sadly, some people's greatest skill, is being an idiot". (facebook profile pic I saw).


              • #8
                Its already been said - but it takes AT LEAST two people, a clean, level background, and shooting at the correct angle. As GoldenPony says - you HAVE to get down below the horse's back, and you HAVE to shoot from about the middle of the barrel. The other secret - take a lot of photos, move around just a bit as you take them. You also need a decent quality camera and lens - if you are using a little pocket camera, don't shoot from too far back, you'll end up with too much distortion. The "zoom" on pocket cameras isn't always the best quality.

                If you are doing young horses, you don't HAVE an hour or two - so start out with a plan, pick your area ahead of time, and have a good handler. Have a halter that fits nicely - a too large halter can make the head AND neck look bad.

                The horse needs to be standing at a perfect 90 degree angle to you - if it is slanted toward or away from you, either the head will look too big and the hind end too small, or the other way around. The legs should be offset - and preferrably with the front leg on your side forward (makes the shoulder look better).

                I MUCH prefer action shooting
                Last edited by MysticOakRanch; Dec. 31, 2011, 01:44 PM.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by MysticOakRanch View Post
                  I MUCH prefer action shooting
                  Hahaa I hear you there! I don't have anyone to help me set up my own horses for conformation shots, so I generally just luck out and they pose themselves while at liberty, but the liberty shots are most fun for me =) Good luck with the conformation photography, oharabear!
                  Visit MW Equine!
                  Raven Beauty - '08 JC Thoroughbred mare
                  Zeecandoit - '07 JC Thoroughbred gelding
                  DBT My Dark Blue - '07 AHA Arabian Mare


                  • #10
                    Good question. I have a lot of great personality pics of my horses over the years. This takes a lot of TIME (which I enjoy) and patience and interation with the horse.

                    As for conformation pics, I have one horse who looks gorgeous no matter which angle you're shooting from. He is round and symmetrical and 'pretty' ...and his presence just shines through the lens. (He really should be in the movies...)

                    On the other hand, his sibling...a 3 yr old colt out of the same mare...is simply not photogenic. At least not yet. Maybe once he matures? He has great conformation but I cannot seem to get an outstanding pic of him.

                    In addition to other points made here...I find that one has got to know the horse, what makes him/her pump themselves up, manage to get them in the right position with the right legs showing, right background. A LOT of factors go into creating a stunning photo or even a good photo of a horse.

                    I think that there are many good conformational shots of horses in advertising, but many lack that extra factor...presence..which can dazzle the eye and draw the viewer's interest instantly.

                    Also, use your imagination, shoot lots of pics, so you learn which angle your horse looks his/her best. Also, lighting is extremely key to a good photo.
                    Dark Horse Farm


                    • #11
                      A professional photographer told me to kneel down and shoot up at them, that was great advice. I notice when we have photographers at inspections or for shoots, they do as well. The best shots are side ways to 3/4 for conformation.

                      A few examples following those simple rules, 3 amateur pictures, 2 professional
                      Attached Files
                      Home of Ironman: GOV, BWP, RPSI, CSHA, AWR, ISR Oldenburg, CWHBA, CSHA, CS, and PHR.


                      • #12
                        I'm a bit over 5' tall. I still squat to get photos.


                        • #13
                          Me too! 5' and 1/2 inch.
                          Home of Ironman: GOV, BWP, RPSI, CSHA, AWR, ISR Oldenburg, CWHBA, CSHA, CS, and PHR.


                          • #14
                            If you want a true confo shot with lessened distortion, its really helps to stand at least 15 or 20m from the horse. Yews kneel down and get perfectly square with the horse in an open stance and natural head carriage.

                            Knowing how to get the horse to do little half steps helps. Its really just patience.


                            • #15
                              It can help to haul the horse out to another property so they are alert and not dropping an ear.


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by smokygirl View Post
                                the real secret? call a professional EQUINE photographer. That's the only way I've ever gotten a decent picture. I don't have the equipment to get the really nice shots, or the skill, or the patience lol. If you have other horsie people in the area, sometimes you can get a good deal if you have them do shoots for several people in an area, or at the same farm.
                                I respectfully disagree. If I had to use the resources of a professional photographer on a regular basis, I'd be broke. The first photo below (headshot) was taken by a good friend who isn't even an amateur photographer. Just got her camera out and took a couple of shots. There just happened to be great lighting and a good background to work with. The other two were taken by my non-photography husband who was just told to "point the camera at the pony and click the button". It was just done with a simple, crappy pocket digital camera.

                                With a bit of practice, everyone can get decent at taking a few photos. That being said, after 20+ years of selling horses, I finally bit the bullet and purchase a refurbished Cannon 60D with a 18-135 mm lense and will be picking it up this week, and then husband and I have a photography workshop scheduled in a few weeks to learn how to use it properly. We purchased the workshop tickets super cheap off of Groupon. So hopefully this summer we'll have some stellar photos on our website.
                                Attached Files
                                Home of Welsh Cob stallion Goldhills Brandysnap
                                Also home to Daventry Equine Appraisals & Equine Expert Witness


                                • #17
                                  Shoot perpendicular to the middle of the horse's body. Not pointing up, not down, not left or right. If you aren't sure, take a few shots, stand up a couple inches, take a few more, squat a couple inches, take a few more, move toward the head a bit, take a few shots, move toward the tail, take a few shots. You're bound to get one useable picture if you take enough with variety.
                                  Against My Better Judgement: A blog about my new FLF OTTB
                                  Do not buy a Volkswagen. I did and I regret it.
                                  VW sucks.


                                  • #18
                                    Some good advice here.

                                    I find the biggest error is the positioning of the legs. 'Inside-out' legs always make the horse look awkward and less balanced.

                                    Distortion can be lessened by stepping back from the horse and using the zoom. Especially with a cheapy point-and-shoot camera. Don't use too much zoom though or the sharpness of the outline may be reduced.


                                    • #19
                                      What is the going rate for photos? What do you consider an attractive price if someone took a photo of your horse that you'd love to have?


                                      • #20
                                        Good tips via the link provided in that first reply.

                                        Make sure your camera is balanced horizontally and your horse is well balanced within the viewfinder to start. Aim for a spot just behind the elbow and set yourself and your camera directly across from it both vertically and horizontally. If you are too high, your horse will be too much body and if too low, too much leg.

                                        Once you get a feel for it, and photographing your horse (in particular), you can start to make minor adjustments with your aim to help minimize weaknesses and maximize the strengths that your horse may have.

                                        Practice, practice, practice!!