Let's face it, equestrians (especially us adult amateurs) love photos and videos from our riding. Doesn't matter if we were division champion or it was a total #FailFriday moment, photos are a large part of equestrian sport. We share on social media, learn from mistakes you can only notice from the ground, revel in improvements and relive memories from amazing times we've had with our horses.
I recently sat down with the uber talented equine photographer Shawna Simmons of SAS Equine Photography to get some of her go-to tips when shooting.
*These are tips if you're going to snap a few quick photos. Please hire a professional when you can and support the show photographers. The end result will be more than worth it. Promise.
Here are some of Shawna's technical pointers when shooting action ringside:
Ok, so you've got the technical stuff but want to know how to get the best shot?
Some of you may remember this from the MySpace days, but Shawna says that angles are your friend!
Be creative. Shoot through the hedges near the rings, take in your surroundings to be creative in your environment. Don't always shoot from the same spot, move around the edge of the ring for different perspectives and shot variety.
For the best shot, stand at a bit of an angle to the jumps. Typically a 45-degree angle is best and from the backside of jump. This way you get the horse's cute expression and those #kneestonose moments.
Don't get stuck in the types of shots you're getting. Get a variety of wide, medium and tight shots at each location.
Some examples of these different shots are:
Shawna gave these tips to get the best portrait-style shots of a horse and rider:
Never ever shoot in middle of day! The best times are in the morning or at the 'golden hour' which during the summer is around 7:30/8 p.m. If you have to shoot in afternoon stand in the shade and whenever possible have sun behind your subject so there is no squinting (not cute!) or sun shining directly on a face.
I know it can sound crazy, but Shawna suggested shooting into the sunset! This allows you to play around with the sunset setting through trees for that golden, glowy look. The iPhone may not work out well for this style shot, but you can get some pretty amazing shots with the 'point and shoot'-style cameras.
Suggest that your model wear neutral clothing and stay away from busy patterns. Encourage them to be comfy so their confidence shines. Good photos result from having happy people in front of the camera.
Shawna said one of the questions she gets most frequently is how she gets the horse's ears up for the shot. Her go-to? Play horse noises. Shawna uses YouTube or an app to play neighing and other horse noises. And if that doesn't work, bubble wrap will usually do the trick. Shawna said she rarely uses mints as the horses tend to become too treat focused and not listen well.
Are you shooting in field of flowers or is there a tree line behind the horse? Grab some flowers, grass, hay, etc. and hold in front of lens to create depth of field and that dreamy, pretty vibe without the need for too much Photoshop while editing.
Play around with wide, medium and tight angles. Be creative and try different things. You might be surprised at the result.
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