BY BRITT GILLIS
How exciting! You’re thinking of getting portraits with your horse done, and you can’t wait! You’ve already done your research- planned your outfits, polished your tack until it shines, and groomed your pony within an inch of his life. So what’s left that you should know before the big day? Here are 5 tips your equine photographer would love to share with you.
1. Have Realistic Expectations
Your equestrian portrait session is meant to celebrate your relationship with your horse, whether that’s the beginning, middle, or end of that relationship. So if you are just getting to know your horse, and you’ve never cantered him before, don’t expect to have photographs of yourself galloping off into the sunset, bareback and helmetless. Today is not the day, and well, truthfully, tomorrow may not be either. Stay within your comfort zone, and I guarantee you’ll have more fun. And your photographer will appreciate avoiding the paramedics for another day.
2. It’s Okay to Make Requests (or not)
Since the dawn of Pinterest, the internet has basically exploded with beautiful equestrian portraiture. There is inspiration to be found everywhere, from romantic rustic engagement shoots to polished and poised tack catalogs. Sometimes, a client sees an image that they can’t get out of their head- and that’s great! We photographers truly want to do everything within our power to make our clients happy. So if you have a specific pose in mind, be sure to bookmark the image and share that information with your photographer at the beginning of the session, and hopefully if the circumstances are right they will fit it in. On the flip side- don’t feel pressured to have a catalog of poses at the ready before your shoot. Your photographer will be happy to guide you through poses that highlight the best of you and your horse, in the environment that’s available. Either way, it’s a beautiful thing!
3. No One is Being Judged
It is easy to feel timid in front of the camera, but trust me, your equine photographer is not the judge at the end of the centerline. A good photographer will make you feel like the most confident version of yourself, and knows how to pose you and your horse to highlight your best assets. Something I hear all the time at the start of a shoot is, “I’m just so awkward in front of a camera” or, “I absolutely dread being photographed.” Well you know what- I bet you are not nearly as awkward as you think, and as your photographer I’m going to make sure we have a ton of fun! If you feel yourself getting stiff or tight, tell your photographer and take a lap- shake your arms and do some stretches, walk a circle, or ask to focus on your horse for a few minutes until you feel up to taking photos again.
4. Time is of the Essence
Probably the number one thing I wish my clients understood is the quality of light. Photography actually translates into “light writing”, and you often hear about shooting during the “golden hour”. This is the time of day, typically a couple hours before sunset, when the angle of the sun makes for a diffused, flattering light that is perfect for portraits. The only problem with the golden hour? Once it’s gone, that’s it. Zero light. Darkness. So it’s absolutely necessary to start on time. Because even though Photoshop can cover all manner of sins, it simply can’t bring back the sun.
5. We Love What We Do, and We Want You To, Too.
Seriously, though. I LOVE being an equine photographer. I still get nervous before every session, and giddy every time I look through that session’s photos. I know the anticipation my clients feel waiting for their sneak peek, and I basically squeal with delight after hitting that first ‘Post’ button. I guarantee your equine photographer knows exactly what I’m saying. Being a part of someone’s precious memories is a privilege, and we want nothing more than for our clients to enjoy the process from beginning to end. This is not just a business, this is a passion, and we are so excited to make images with you- images that will last not just a moment, but a lifetime.
Britt Gillis started photographing horses at the age of 8, and her obsession with equine photography has only grown. After acquiring a degree in Photography in 2010, she started Britt Gillis Design in Raleigh, NC, specializing in horse and rider portraits. When not tossing grass or crinkling peppermint wrappers to get that perfect expression, Britt spends her time eventing her German Sporthorse gelding, Jack. Check out more of Britt’s work at facebook.com/brittgillisdesign