How To Add the WOW! Factor to Your Stallion at Stud or Horse for Sale Photos.
Learn how to take superior photos of your stallion at stud or horse for sale with 8 essential tips on how to capture that perfect photo of your horse. With patience and practice you can take images of your horse that rival professional horse photography and bring out the WOW factor in your stallion.
8 Essential Horse Photography Tips
(1) Select the Perfect Spot
Take your camera to different locations. View each through the camera lens to find the ones that are the most pleasing to the eye. Select an uncluttered space with no houses, poles, power lines, vehicles or other distractions in the shot.
Try for a picturesque or “horsey” background. Pasture, rolling hills, the show ring, etc.
When photographing dark colored horses, select a lighter, or contrasting, background otherwise the horse will blend in. This photo has a nice background with flowers, but the front of the horse’s face gets lost.
For conformation shots, select level ground. If the stallion is standing on grass, be sure it’s mowed so the hooves and legs are visible.
Take note of the position of the sun, the light conditions and the time when selecting the right location for your photo.
The best time of day to take photographs and videos is early morning or later in the afternoon about 2 to 3 hours before sunset. Avoid harsh midday light as it casts unwanted shadows. This photo was taken near noon. Note the dark shadows and lack of clarity.
Another photo taken of the same stallion on the same day, but in the early morning about an hour after sunrise.
It seemed like a good idea at the time … photo taken near noon in front of the lilac bush. Yup, he turned pink.
Partly cloudy, or lightly overcast days are good for taking photos but avoid dark grey skies.
Keep the sun at your back.
Check out the Offspring Page of our Supreme Stallion Listing.
Include a video and 4 photos for each of up to 6 offspring.
A “For Sale” notification is available with optional display of sale price.
To view, go to our Sample Stallion Listing and click on “Offspring” in the Navigation Bar.
(2) Put On Your Sunday Best
Groom him as if you’re going to compete in the World Championships. Have your stallion bathed, his mane and tail combed out and clip his bridle path, head and fetlocks if appropriate for your breed. Braid his mane and tail as appropriate for your discipline. Apply baby oil to his muzzle, paint his hooves with black or clear polish, whatever finishing touches are correct for your breed.
Be sure to use fly spray to minimize fidgeting and tail swishing.
For conformation shots, use a clean leather show halter or bridle.
Take conformation shots first as you don’t want to see sweat marks from the saddle.
Rider and Handler Attire
The rider and handler should project a professional appearance. If you show, wear show attire that is suitable to your discipline. However, if you are promoting a stallion that does not show, for example a working ranch horse, then wear your good work clothes.
Scruffy jeans with holes, base ball caps, running shoes, are not on the menu.
(3) What You Should Have in Your Portfolio
Check out our blog post, “How To Promote Your Stallion Or Sale Horse In 4 Seconds!“, to learn more about the 4 types of photos you should have in your portfolio and how they can influence a mare owner to book to your stallion.
(4) Positioning of the Photographer
When taking conformation shots from the side, stand positioned from the back edge of the shoulder to the middle of his barrel.
Hold the camera at mid-barrel height keeping the camera lens level to the center of the horse. Holding the camera higher will make the horse’s legs look stubby. The square in the following photo shows where to face the camera.
For 3/4 view images from the front or back, stand slightly to the side and aim at the shoulder or hip of the horse.
To get good conformation shots and to avoid distortion, stand back and away from the horse and then zoom in with your lens until the proportions are right.
Avoid taking photos standing straight in front of the horse. It will make his head look way out of proportion to the rest of his body.
If you are further away, crouch lower to keep the proportions correct. If you’re within 20 feet, stand taller.
Fill the frame with your stallion.
Be sure to preview your photos to make sure you haven’t cut off a hoof, or captured him moving at just the wrong time, or the handler has inadvertently got part way into the shot. Take a lot of images to be sure you get just the right one. Look them over before you stop taking photos so you know if you’ve captured the right shot.
(5) Positioning the Horse
Many breeds, such as Warmbloods and Sport Horses, show in the Open stance at halter. The near (or inside) foreleg should be perpendicular to the ground. A plumb line should be able to be drawn from the point of the buttock down the back of the canon to the ground on the near hind. The off (or outside) front and hind legs should stand slightly inward toward the center of the barrel as shown in the photo.
Open Stance showing plumb lines.
Quarter Horses, Paints, Appaloosas and stock type Miniature Horses stand square with the front and hind legs positioned side by side.
Quarter Horse, Paint and Appaloosa halter pose.
Arabians show with the front legs square and the near hind stretched out behind to emphasize the levelness of the croup. The neck is held high and outstretched as demonstrated by HC Elitist.
(6) Helpers & Handlers
In addition to the photographer you will need:
- An experienced handler/trainer to stand the stallion for conformation shots. The skill of the handler makes all the difference in getting the horse to co-operate.
- A helper who gets the stallion’s attention and ears forward.
- The stallion’s rider/trainer for under saddle photos.
- An additional helper to stay with the photographer to keep him/her out of harm’s way if he/she is unfamiliar with horses.
(7) Getting the Stallion’s Attention
The main job of your helper is to get the stallion’s attention. It’s imperative that his ears be up and pricked forward so he looks alert and not sour.
To get his attention you can rustle plastic bags, gently rattle rocks in a tin can, wave a towel, use a squeaky toy, or shake some grain in a bucket.
Be cautious! Horses have very different levels of tolerance to these stimuli. To prevent your helper from frightening the horse, it’s important to know his tolerance level in advance. For some, just the mere appearance of one of these objects will be more than enough to get their attention. It’s imperative to avoid causing injury to the horse and/or handlers by the overuse of any of these stimuli.
(8) Equipment & Settings
Let’s start right off by saying camera phones generally are not on the list of equipment to use when photographing your horse. Use a good quality camera with a telephoto lens starting at 135 mm.
If you’re using a “point and shoot” camera, have an optical zoom that goes to at least 200 mm.
If you have a telephoto zoom lens, use the long end of the range, 200 to 300 mm.
For performance and conformation images, use the burst, or continuous shooting mode.
Practice Your Horse Photography Skills
Getting that perfect photo requires a lot of practice to develop your horse photography skills. Bring your camera to shows, clinics, on trail rides, anywhere you might have a great photo opportunity.
Shows can be a great place to practice photographing your horse. If you’re taking photos while the horse is in the show pen, be sure to position yourself so you don’t spook him or other competitor’s horses.
Bring your camera when turning your stallion out in the pasture or paddock in the early morning. Find an advantageous spot, then have a helper turn the horse loose.
With practice, time and patience your horse photography skills will improve and you’ll be taking high quality photos to use to promote your stallion.