Ashley with Levi, Milo, and Catniss – Horse and Rider Portraits (Equine Photography)
When Ashley, the Executive Director of the Kamloops Therapeutic Riding Association, asked me to photograph her with three horses, I knew I was up for a bit of a challenge! Multiple horse photography is not an easy task, so I thought I would share some tips for anyone who might be attempting it. 🙂
To start, we had the two geldings, Levi and Milo (on the left in the photo below) stand next to each other, because they live together. Does that mean they always get along? No, because Milo can be a bit of a grouch to other horses, but there was a better chance of him behaving next to a horse he knew. 😉 Because mares and geldings sometimes have “opinions” about each other, we had Ashley’s mare, Catniss (on the right, below) stand across from the boys.
The boys stayed in roughly the same spot most of the time, but Catniss turned away from the camera at one point and had to be repositioned. I instructed Ashley to look at me the whole time and not worry about what the horses were doing or where they were looking, because otherwise, when they finally all looked at the camera at the same time, she might not be! Once the horses were in place, we had our helpers Crystal and Hannah shaking grain buckets and jumping around to try to get their attention, and it worked until they realized they weren’t going to get any treats right away. What didn’t work to get their attention? My app with horse whinny sounds, goats walking by, and airplanes flying overhead (KTRA is by the airport, so the horses are actually quite used to low flying aircraft). I kept joking that her horses were TOO desensitized. Luckily we got this shot within the first couple minutes, and while I took a few extra just in case, this was a favourite of both Ashley and I. She chose to have this along with a couple other of the shots made into gorgeous metallic prints!
Once we had the main planned shot out of the way, I decided to try to get a closeup of the group as well. As horses do, they decided to all face different directions, but I think it’s still a cute shot, with ears forward to boot!
We also attempted a shot of Ashley walking the three horses towards me, but Milo nipped at Levi right away and Catniss was trying to get ahead of the other two… I decided to include this photo in this post as proof that it’s not always sunshine and roses, haha!
My favourite trick for getting group photos of horses is to use a fenceline to keep them even in front, while an assistant stands behind me and gets their attention. This worked perfectly for this group. The horses were so focused on the prospect of treats that they did great standing in close quarters. I love their eager looks in this shot!
To get this headshot of the three together, I had Ashley continue to hold their lead ropes, but duck down in front. However, one of the horses had one ear back, which I was able to source from another image and Photoshop into this image, which otherwise had 5/6 ears forward. Can you tell which ear? I did this photos a couple weeks ago and even I can’t remember now!
The three equines were rewarded with some yummy grain for their cooperation. Milo enjoyed his so much, he was drooling and licking his lips for several minutes afterwards!
We were laughing because the three of them were all trying to fit their heads into the one small grain bowl. Horses will sometimes squabble over feed, but I guess they were all happy with their mouthfuls they were getting!
Are you interested in your own equine photography session with your horse(s)? I am always looking for unique horses and people to photograph in the Kamloops area, and often travel within British Columbia and Alberta too. Learn more about my equine photography sessions here.