I’m not a professional photographer, but I have taken enough pictures of horses and have certainly looked at enough pictures of horses, that I know a good picture when I see one – and a bad one. They say no photo is better than a bad photo, and I completely agree. So often, I am dumbfounded by poor quality photos used to sell horses. If you have horses for sale that need marketing photos, my best advice would be to hire a professional. It is money well spent to have quality pictures that speak volumes and can sell your horse. But, if that is simply not in your budget, here are some tips I’ve learned along to the way. Some of them seem obvious, but considering the quality I’ve seen over the years, apparently not all people think about it.
1. Take your time. Don’t expect to pull your horse out of the stall, snap a few photos and be done in 5 minutes. Plan on taking as much time as you need to get the job done right.
2. Make sure your horse is clean. This is one of those obvious ones, but I’ve seen sale pictures of dirty horses. Amazing.
3. Try to pick a day when it is overcast, but still fairly bright. If you must shoot on a sunny day, make sure the sun is at your back and be aware of shadowy areas that could show up on the horse. (For example, if the horse’s head is turned toward you it can throw a shadow on the horse’s neck and body.)
4. For a full body shot, stand opposite the horse’s heartgirth. If you stand too far forward, it makes the head look too big and the body underdeveloped. If you want a ¾ shot that emphasizes the hind end (like what is common in Quarter Horse photos), take two steps in the direction of the rear of the horse.
5. Make sure you have both ears forward, and often it looks better if the head and neck are in a longer, natural position.
6. Typically, the legs are set such that the far (furthest from you) front leg is slightly behind the closer front leg and the far hind is slightly ahead of the closer hind leg.
7. Unless there is a specific background element you want to include, fill the frame with the horse.
8. Speaking of background, pay attention to what’s behind your horse. With photo editing software today, this isn’t as important as it used to be, but it is still best to choose a non-cluttered background. Simple is good.
Time, patience and paying attention to details will really pay off in the end. Good luck!