BY GARY SUMMERTON
We all love beautiful portraits of our horse, but there is a lot that goes into a picture perfect session. To get photos you’ll treasure forever, it’s best to prepare for the day in advance. Set yourself up for success with these tips.
1. Don’t Rush
Give yourself plenty of time to get you and your horse ready on the day of your scheduled portrait session. Get your horse ready first. A relaxed and freshly groomed horse will make for beautiful portraits.
2. Get the Extra Energy Out
On the day of the session, it is good idea to lunge or ride your horse before the photos. Horses always have more energy when doing something new or different. A good ride the day of your portrait session will help your horse relax.
3. Don’t Skimp on Grooming
After a good ride or lunge, it is time to groom your horse. Give your horse a thorough bath and work out any stains in white areas. While the mane and tail are wet, use a detangler to comb any knots. After all your hard work grooming, make sure their stall is cleaned out. Nothing worse than spending hours cleaning your horse only to see them dirty again for the photos!
4. Hire a Braider
I highly recommend hiring a professional braider. If you prefer to braid your own horse, I recommend practicing your braids prior the session to ensure that your day-of-session braids look their best. Button braids are the easiest and quickest to do by yourself
5. Stick to What You Know
When using products on your horse, stick to one that you have good experience using. Portrait day is not the time to experiment with new products. Use a mane product or hairspray to tame fly aways for a neat appearance, and apply hoof oil and body products to achieve extra shine.
6. Don’t Clip the Day Before
If you plan to clip your horse, be sure to do so a couple of weeks prior to your session so that the hair has time to even out.
7. Don’t Neglect Yourself!
Don’t forget you’re the star of these photos as well! It’s a good idea to plan in advance what you’re going to wear the day of the session. Make sure you feel comfortable and confident in the clothing that you choose. It’s nice to have some portraits in your showing clothes, whether it’s western pleasure, jumpers or dressage. Having these outfits cleaned, pressed and ready to go before your session will add to the beauty of your portrait. It’s also nice to give your horse an “wardrobe change” to use their show bridle after some halter photos.
8. Match the Right Colors with Your Horse
Picking the right colors for your Equestrian Portrait Session will help make your images pop with beauty and grace. The colors of your outfits should compliment your horse’s colors. Pick colors that are a few shades darker or lighter than your horse’s color. Bold and dramatic colors work great with Black and gray horses. Grey horses pair best with dark colors like deep sapphire, emerald, or burgundy. Stay away from neutral colors as they will blend in with your horse. Lighter colors are best for dark horses to contrast their coat. White, light pastels, icy colors, even light vibrant colors work well. If you have a chestnut or Palomino, go for complementary colors in shades of blue or green. Like aqua, teal, royal blue, navy, and hunter green. Or shades of purple like violet or plum.If your horse is brown, Buckskin or a Paint, try dark blues, greens, and reds.
9. Plan Your Locations
Where is your equine photo session going to take place? At a stable with huge green barn doors and white barn walls? Or In a meadow with wild flowers and stone walls. It is important to compliment your outfits with not only your horse’s colors, but also the background of the area you will be photographing in. Practice handling your horse, mounting, and dismounting in your outfit of choice.
10. Get Help on the Big Day
Getting everything ready for your equestrian portrait session takes time and can be very stressful. We recommend having your hair and make-up professionally done the day of your photoshoot. This step alone will save you time and stress! On the day of the shoot, ask a friend to help hold treats for your horse or give you a sip of water if you need it. This will all give you time to relax before the equine session takes place, and enjoy the process of taking the photos of your dreams.
Gary’s love for photographing horses started with creating images of his daughter Morgan pleasure riding and taking care of two welsh cob ponies. It has now grown into offering Fine Art Equine Portrait commissions for clients throughout the Northeast. Gary is a graduate of New Hampshire Institute of Art with a certificate in Fine Art Photography. Gary has received many awards for his commercial and fine art photography. Follow us on @chromepie_studio on Instagram and @chromepiestudio on Facebook.