Hint: Don’t do it like this guy.
Cover photo: Instagram. All other photos used by permission of Lauren Mauldin.
You may know Lauren Mauldin as the hunter-jumper blogger behind She Moved to Texas but she’s also a former freelance horse show photographer. Today she shares a few tips to take better photos of your horse — even if you don’t have a DSLR (or any idea what DSLR stands for).
The name of the game is timing. Perfect exposure and clarity doesn’t mean anything if you catch the horse looking like a donkey when they are really a 10 mover… and that does happen! However, those of you with DSLR cameras are going to have an easier time with this one. That’s because the lag between when you click the button to take the photo and when the camera shutter actually goes off is virtually nothing.
Point-and-shoot people, there is still hope… but it’s going to be harder. My main advice to you is take a lot of photos to practice and learn how long your shutter takes to fire. When you get that feel, just take your picture slightly early and you’ll be able to get the excellent timing too.
How do you develop perfect timing? You need to have an idea of the shot you want before you take the photo. The key is to snap the picture just as that moment is happening (or just before, depending on your camera’s speed.) Everyone has their own preferences of their favorite shots, but here’s a handy cheat sheet of my favorites:
Uphill walk: Follow the front leg closest to you (often the outside front) and click the button on the uplift of the leg but before the horse starts placing its hoof down for the step.
Hunter/daisy-cutter trot: Follow the horse’s front leg closest to you. Focus on that leg. That leg is your friend. You want to take the shot when the close front leg is alllllllmost fully extended. Look for the toe flick, and click your camera right as that toe pops.
Dressage trot: You want the horse’s back hoof to be planted on the ground when you take the shot. This will ensure you get the most step up underneath the horse as well as front extension. That being said, it’s hard to do.
Uphill canter: Click when the front leg farthest from you is almost fully extended but not yet moving down and the front leg closest to you is moving forward.
Over fences: Click when both front knees are at the high point in the jump. Ideally you want to catch the moment when both cannon bones are perfectly perpendicular to the ground over the jump.
Chasing shot (landing fences): Shoot while the horse is landing but before their feet have hit the ground 100%. Chasing shots tend to look better when they are 3/4th view instead of straight on.
Thanks, Lauren! You can find even more equine photography tips at her blog along with plenty of amazing photos of her “nerdhorse Simon” in every post.