Good Portrait

Is taking good pictures of horses one of the hardest things in the world to do?

Yes. Yes, it is. Even though horses are one of the most beautiful animals, they are so difficult to photograph well! Here are some tips to getting great pictures of your sales horse.

Yes. Yes, it is.

Horses are notoriously hard to get good photographs of. Even though horses are one of the most beautiful animals, they are so difficult to photograph well! 

So how do you get any decent pictures of your sales horse?

With a lot of patience, prep work, and a good camera.

  1. Your Time – taking pictures of your horse for sale will most likely be an all-day effort. Plan accordingly. Take the day to get this done. Don’t rush it.  If you are going to be outside for pictures, check the weather forecast before deciding on your photo shoot day – pouring rain is not fun, but brilliant sunshine is also not that great for picture taking.
  2. Get your horse clean – give it a bath if you can, but at the least a really good grooming, mane and tail combed, and some coat shine spray is always a good thing.
  3. Your Horse – if your horse is fresh out of his stall, you can’t expect him to stand still and pose for pictures. Give him some exercise or turnout before the photo session. Even if turnout means getting dirty (this is where some of that much needed patience comes in). This is also a great opportunity to get riding pictures or liberty shots of your sales horse.
  4. Tack – if your horse is going to be wearing any kind of tack in the photos – make sure that it is also clean, in good condition and well fitted to your horse. Dirty, frayed, and bad fitting halters, bridles or other tack will be noticed in pictures and takes away from the overall good presentation of your horse.
  5. Background or Location – check out the location where you are going to be taking the photos – what is the area like? Is it clean and tidy, with the least amount of extra ‘stuff’ around? A busy background is a distraction in a photo. It takes the viewers attention away from the main subject, your sales horse. Look for an area that is clean – possibly
    • – an indoor arena that has a nice back wall to stand the horse against.
    • – an outdoor arena that has a section without paddocks, barns, or houses behind it.
    • – a turnout or field/pasture that has an area without poop. Yes, manure happens but that doesn’t mean people want to see it in your sales pictures.  Also try to avoid getting the water troughs/buckets, hay feeders and rickety fencing in your photos.
    • – without people and other horses – another distraction for viewers.
    • – a nice lawn or garden area – one that is mowed and well maintained. It doesn’t have to be an award-winning park garden, just clean and tidy. Check for anything that might be distracting in the photos – lawn furniture, BBQ’s, garden gnomes.
  6. The Handler/Rider – if you are including the person holding or riding the horse in the pictures – they should be properly attired and presented. Editing or cropping the handler out of the photo is always a good choice.
  7. Camera – the technology of mobile phones now, its amazing the quality of photos they can take! Even a cheap digital camera can take great pictures. You just need to make sure that you are comfortable taking photos. If you are not one of those people that takes pictures of everything, every day – it can be a little intimidating to pick up your phone and start trying to get some decent pictures of your horse. Take a day or two in the weeks before your photo shoot day to practise taking photos with your camera. Play with the settings on the camera and know what they do. Really get to know how that camera works. Take thousands of practise pictures. Don’t worry about posing your horse, just take candid, random pictures and see what you get. Then take a day and try some posed shots and action shots. Keep it simple, don’t try for fancy model poses, but keep in mind the general expectations – standing square (or square’ish), level neck set, ears up looking interested, even lighting on the horse, no tail swishing…You will find one or two good ones. Yeah, that sounds disheartening – but its true.
  8. Patience – when photo shoot day arrives this is your most valuable tool. It will be a long day. It may be a frustrating day. You will take a hundred thousand pictures and get 6, maybe 8, good ones. Go easy on yourself and your horse – taking horse photos is a difficult, near impossible task. If you are good at editing photos, many things can be cropped or edited out. But be careful not to edit too much and make your photo look unrealistic. Professional horse photographers have spent years honing their skills and thousands of dollars purchasing high quality camera equipment. Your photos may not be anywhere near the quality of a professional. But they don’t need to be. They need to be an honest, clear presentation of your sales horse. This is definitely achievable.

Examples of good sales photos

Examples of poor sales photos


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