Several years ago I joined an on-line forum called the Equine Photographers Network (EPnet) because I wanted to learn more about taking pictures of horse. This network has a general forum for people who just love to take pictures of horse and a professional forum which focuses more of the business aspects of equine photography.
I was surprised at how many things there were to learn. Various breeds have different standards on how they should be photographed. Along with those differences there are ideal moments for capturing images of horses in action. Dressage has particular expectations. Western pleasure has certain expectations. Hunter jumper images need to be just so.
If you are interested in learning more about taking better pictures of horses then the best thing you can do is to join that forum. They have a 30 day free trial to get you started and you will learn a lot just from that. After that you can determine if you want to join the forum and continue the learning process.
I have been an avid photographer since I was about twelve. It is always exciting for me to learn new things and grow as a photographer. I continue to learn more new things each and every day and I hope that never ends. It can be the same for you if you enjoy photography. Don’t let things get stale. Join a photography club or a professional organization to continue learning and growing.
Here is my portfolio on the Equine Photographers Network: Peter DeMott
Here is my profile page there: Peter DeMott
It was fun to create portraits of Sarah with her horse for her senior portraits at Dancing Horse Farm near Lebanon, Ohio (only about a half hour from where I am based in Germantown, Ohio near Dayton, Ohio). Her mom and her little sister helped some with getting ears up. When shooting horses sometimes the most difficult thing is to get the horses attention. In this case, I think that Sarah’s arms were very tired from pulling his head up out of the beautiful green grass. I’ve done several sessions at Dancing Horse Farm including portraits like these as well as action photography of horses under saddle doing dressage. Here are some pictures of Sarah with her horse, but the last two portraits are her little sister who had been jumping around behind me to get the attention of the horse. I was able to sneak the shots before she could turn away. I think they are very cute. Sarah is in love with her horse and it shows in how she looks at him and leans into him for some of the portraits. I think everyone had a wonderful time and I think they are having a very difficult time not buying everything they see. Should I just show 20 images and make it easier for my clients to choose? I think not. I will just continue to make them work hard selecting their favorites.
Hey, are you taking pictures of ME? I was able to take several candid portraits before she turned away. How cute is this? To see more portraits from Sarah Wheeler’s senior portrait sessions go to Sarah Wheeler. As a senior portrait photographer and an equine photographer I truely enjoy bringing both of those areas into one portrait. For truely unique senior portraits, wouldn’t you love to have your senior portraits with your cherished riding companion?
Peter DeMott Photography 937-478-6222
Since I shoot quite a few equestrian sporting events including some of the DLSC (Dayton Local Show Circuit) shows, I do get requests for farm call portrait sessions in the Dayton area. Michelle Lay talked to me way back in early May about doing her senior portraits with her horse. She wanted to get the fall colors so we just scheduled for a session in a week or so. It will be great fun. We will perhaps be starting at her home, then we may trailer to Germantown Reserve where there are more colorful trees. I will check things out as the date approaches.
Here is a picture of Michelle with her horse at one of the events that I covered this spring.
I have another senior portrait session scheduled at a grandparent’s home. As a location photographer it is fun and challenging to create portraits that have special meaning for the student. Where might you want your senior portrait taken. Would you select a beautiful outdoor setting or is there a place with special meaning for you?
I had a session with two families at Cox Arboritum here in Dayton.
Before we even started these two cousins came together in a nice shaded area where the light was just right. I had just set my camera adjustments and figured I would fire off a few shots. Now these were the first of several images that I took. The first of the entire session. What do you think?
With children, I think if I could say we haven’t started yet for about a half an hour before then spend about 15 minutes saying, “okay now we are officially taking pictures”, then spend another half hour taking pictures after we were had finished, I would have hundreds of great shots like these. It’s when you are officially “not shooting yet” or when you are officially “finished shooting” that the best portraits happen with children.
Endurance ride photography is both challenging and fun. For endurance rides I have to get up early to find places on the trail where the light is good and that say something about the ride. I want the pictures to bring back good memories of the event. The people in endurance and competitive trail riding are great too. This is a sport for people that enjoy riding their horses. There are no big cash prizes to taint the sport, just lots of competitive spirit and interesting interesting people.
This ride was staged at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and included a 50 mile endurance ride, a 25 mile “limited distance” endurance ride, a 25 mile competitive trail ride and a shorter novice ride on Sunday. The trails were wide and well cared for and the meadow gave us plenty of room for camping. The Appaloosa Nationals were piggy back with this ride with 13 participants from as far away as Canada.
The mist quickly burned off revealing a horse eating photographer in the woods. I try to talk to people as they approach to help the horses know that I am just another human being. This horse found the large lens interesting indeed.
At endurance rides and competitive trail rides there are vets, timers, pulse checkers, and other volunteers to help things work smoothly. Here Bill Cartwright logs the time in and time out for riders who have arrived at the vet check. Great job Bill.
Below is a special request for a portrait session at the ride. I have decided that I will offer no charge sessions at endurance rides. Of course, it is not exactly easy to find a time between everything that is going on during one of these events, but this one fit right in. Best time for these is evening.
The next two images are portraits of the winner of the appoloosa nationals , Cat Carter, with her horse.
Shannon Loomis always buys a hand full of pictures from each ride that I shoot where she is an participant. This is a picture of Shannon with our horse April. There was a minor problem with her horse and she could not ride him on the second day. Patty had brought April along hoping to find the right person to ride her since Patty would be riding Cocoa. Here April notices Cocoa across the meadow. They are good buddies, so Shannon had to keep April from trotting off to be with our other horse. From the looks of it both Shannon and April had a great time.
Here Patty waits for her out time. Is it time yet?, is it time yet?, how about now?, is it time yet….? as she teases Bill, the ride timer. Bills response was a very low tone, No, not yet, no, not yet, 10, 9,8,7,6,184.108.40.206.1… Okay, NOW you can go.
To see all the pictures taken during this weekend click on this link: Cracked Oats Crunch Pictures.
KC was really fun to photograph for her senior portraits. She is a soft spoken beautiful young lady and we met at Cox Aboritum for her session at about 7pm. Her mom dropped her off and her sister joined us to carry her change of clothes. We walked around the park and tried various things and almost everything we did worked great. The weather in the Dayton, Ohio area this summer has been cool and there has been lots of rain so the flowers were still in bloom and the grass was still nice and green. As a location photographer, this has been ideal.
At the end of the session I asked KC if there was anything else she wanted to try. Her sister was helping with clothes and stuff and KC said, I want some portraits with my sister in them.
I like to take portraits of little kids, but I really like them to be natural environmental portraits. Sometimes it takes some time and experimentation before kids start to relax. One thing that I have to explain to parents it that they cannot participate in directing their children. Directions like, “Not that smile, I want to see teeth,” from a parent just makes kids more tense and nervous about what is about to happen. Kids like to play and that is when their most real and natural expressions come out.
Once they get used to me clicking off the shutter every couple of moments, then they stop with unnatural expressions and realize that nothing bad is going to happen to them. Sometimes I play with them by asking them to do something that may feel a little uncomfortable in order to elicit natural expressions. I asked this brother and sister to look into each other’s eyes. Of course when you are close to another person and looking into their eyes, you are going to start smiling. It’s uncomfortable in a good way.
At our annual PPSO (Professional Photographers of SW Ohio) picnic we were encouraged to come with our cameras to take some portraits of each other’s families. Toni Forgue was asking me about getting natural expressions from people. Two tricks that I had just learned from a photographers seminar came in handy. I told Toni I wanted to take some portraits of her with her husband. He sat down and crossed his arms. He looked comfortable and relaxed. I told her to put her arms around his neck in a comfortable way. Now, what was my trick to get Toni to relax? Her husband was already smiling because he was feeling connected to his wife. I walked up to Toni and said, “tell your husband a secret…whisper it in his ear, something private.” Click, click, click, click I captured the moment just right.
Tell me what you think. As a professional photographer sometimes you have to bring a bag of little tricks that help people become more relaxed and natural. How did this little trick work?
Patty had been training (sacking out in horse training lingo) Merlot to the clippers and being the very teachable horse that he is, he let her trim his muzzle and bridle path and even his ears. Patty had been grooming him and working with him for over an hour and she was excited about his new look. “Hey Peter, can we do some portraits?” I said “sure, but we only had light for another 45 minutes.” Patty ran upstairs to put on some nicer clothes and primp herself a little bit, then out we went.
The evening light was just soft and smooth and my wife is gorgeous so it’s not difficult to get good images, but these turned out just wonderfully. We posted twenty from this sesson to my facebook account with the request that people help us select one to be printed as a large canvas print. It will become one of my samples for people to see when they come to my barn studio (still under construction). Even though most of my work is on-location, in the future, I will have a barn studio so that I can do some in studio sessions for senior portraits along with my on-location sessions.
On this portrait you can see some hand motion. I don’t think this negatively effects the overall feel of the image. Because we only had a little bit of light left, I was shooting at a slightly higher ISO setting and pretty low shutter speeds.
This image has what I call a Glamour effect added.
This was a picture that I took of Patty and Cocoa just after Patty shocked Cocoa when she touched him and the electric fence at the same time. You can see Patty saying things like “Oh you poor thing, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to do that to you.” Of course Cocoa was just soaking it all in and I was able to capture the moment creating one of Patty’s favorite portraits of her with her horse. Although I can do at liberty and under sadle equine shoots, and even though I can do conformation poses, the thing that I find more fun and challenging is to capture the relationship in the eyes of the horse owner and their cherished equine companion. This was taken at an endurance ride called the Salomonie Sizzle. Patty enjoys the excitement and the challenge of endurance riding where she rides in 25 and 50 mile rides. During these rides there are several “vet checks” to check on the horse for stress, dehydration, and overall soundness. It is not just a ride like hell to win. You have to know the condition of your horse so that you can pace the ride, negotiate the terrain and finish with a healthy and sound horse. It’s funny, but the vets don’t worry much about the riders at the vet checks. If they clobbered a tree with their knee and are hobbling about and the horse is sound to continue, they say go for it.