Capturing the Perfect Horse Photo for A Pet Portrait

I thought it would be great to write a blog post today about Capturing the Perfect Horse Photo for a Pet Portrait. We always say to clients, we are unable to meet your horse in real life, so photos are the next best thing. We can only create a portrait from looking at the reference you provide. The better the photos, ultimately the better the oil painting or pencil drawing.

When it comes to horses, capturing their majestic beauty and unique personality can be a challenge. So here are some tips on how to take photos of horses that will hopefully provide us with the best possible reference.

Choosing the Right Environment

The environment plays a crucial role in a horse’s portrait. Ideally, choose a location where the horse is most comfortable but it also needs to be in natural light. Often clients email us photos of their horse in a stable, which sometimes is ok, depending on the size of the stables and how light it is. However often it can be a little too dark. So taking them outside into the yard, or ideally into a field is the best place. The photo below shows the horse outside the stable and to some extent we can make up what’s behind the fence, but if you can go in with them, all the better. As you can see we have a lovely pose here and the light is perfect.

Lighting is Key

Similar to above, good lighting can make or break a photo. Natural light is usually the best choice for horse photography. Early morning or late afternoon light provides a soft, warm glow that can enhance the horse’s features. Take a full range of photos of your horse on a sunny or bright day and it will make all the difference to not only the original photos, but the resulting horse portrait too.

Capturing the Perfect Horse Photo for Pet Portrait

Tack or no Tack?

If you would like to see your horse with full tack, then take photos with them wearing full tack. If you would like to see them portrayed without, it is really important to take photos of them without! Sometimes if the tack and details on them are large or intricate, we cant see what’s underneath, or what it would be like without it. Sometimes it is possible for us to remove them, we go case by case. However if you can take photos with say a neck halter, that would be much better if you wanted to see your horse in a natural way in the portrait.

Horse portrait photography

Experiment with Angles

Don’t just stick to one angle. Try taking photos from different perspectives – front, side, at eye level, from a lower or higher angle. This can really help give us an overall feel of the horse and a variety of photos to choose from for the main pose of the portrait. The best pose for a portrait is similar to the photo below. Either that or a side on view seems to be quite popular. It’s all about personal choice but we love the pose below!

Capturing the Perfect Horse Photo for Pet Portrait

Patience is a Virtue

Remember that photographing horses requires patience. Allow the horse to get comfortable with you and your camera or phone. Wait for the right moment, and don’t rush the process.

Flash Photography

Whenever possible, rely on natural light for your shots, aiming to capture your photos outside in a field where there is no need for the use of flash. If you are inside a stable and flash is used, it can add unnatural shadows and highlights. Also try to take photos in the daylight, opposed to evening where there is very low light as this again could cause the flash to be activated. Not forgetting flash of light might startle your horse spooking them.

Capture Ears Up!

Keep those ears up! So many photos we receive that are absolutely perfect… apart from the ears! Forward-facing ears in a horse portrait, contribute to the overall composition of their head and conveys a sense of confidence.

To achieve this, you can employ various techniques such as rustling bags, using food as a lure, making clicks, or utilising sounds from your smartphone. It’s a straightforward yet effective method to capture the attention of a horse and achieve that desired elevated ear posture.

We can to some extent change them when we are painting or drawing, but it’s always good to have the perfect photo to work from.

The photo above is pretty much a perfect photo for a portrait of your horse… but we all know this is not easy to take! However, by following these tips, it is possible to capture a good quality photos of your horse, that will serve as an excellent reference for your portrait.

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