Horse portraiture – considerations

jodiemcgrath News

Seeing as we have had a lot of enquiries recently concerning horse portraiture, I figured it was about time that I write a blog for you guys about what things you should think about for this particular type of shoot.

Thanks goes to my good friend Lauren, for asking a million questions that you also might like to ask – hopefully the answers are helpful!

What are the challenges or issues that I need to consider when having a location shoot with my horse?

Below are what I believe are the main challenges that need to be addressed when dealing with a location shoot, and how we aim to work with those factors to ensure we create the best possible images for you.

  • weather
    • While rain and windy weather would possibly require rescheduling, don’t stress too much if there are storm clouds brewing and it looks like it might hold off for a while – often these dramatic skies create amazing photos!
    • The other extreme is the heat, as not only is it uncomfortable for you and the photographer, but nobody looks good drenched in sweat!
      • To combat this, we will organise a suitable time of the day to hold your photo shoot to avoid the hottest part of the day.
      • Alternatively, a warm day at the beach with your horse is always fun!
  • lighting
    • The quality of the light in the sky will greatly effect your images, which is why we will aim to organise your shoot either first thing in the morning, or in the late afternoon when the sun is low in the sky.
      • The light at these times is normally not as harsh as the midday sun, which means there will be less unflattering shadows to deal with
    • We have started taking studio lighting on location with us to help maintain some control with the lighting, so can work better with the available light on the day and manipulate it to our advantage
  • location
    • The actual location is an important consideration as it will form the background to your images.
      • It needs to be horse friendly, so we will often shoot where your horse is kept if it is nice enough, or at a nearby location if you are able to float your horse
        • Previous locations we have used include Naval Base horse beach, Brookleigh, Byford 50 acres, and various private properties and agistment centres.
        • We are always open to suggestion with location, so make sure you have a chat to us and we will see what will work best!
      • If you want individual shots of your horse without gear on (them cantering around etc) then you will need to take this into consideration when choosing a location, as an enclosed area would be required for these type of shots so they can hoon around in safety! – e.g. arena, paddock etc

What do I need to organise?

Organisation always plays a big part in any shoot, so here are my suggestions for what to prepare!

  • First up you will need to consider the feel you want for the photos, as this will dictate to a certain extent what organisation will be required
    • Do you want something casual and relaxed, something more cuddly and soft, or something a bit more fashion-like?






  •  Once you have decided on the feel and look that you want for your photos, it will make it easier to decide what you will need to bring, and what to wear.
    • When choosing what to wear, you should keep in mind that you want something that will look good in your photos (as opposed to the clothes we normally designate to being horse clothes when we don’t care if they get ruined!) so don’t feel you need to wear jodphurs or jeans, unless this is the feel you want for your photos.
    • What you bring for the horse will again be dictated to a certain extent the type of photos you want, for example if you don’t want ridden shots, you won’t need your saddle (unless brave enough to ride bareback!), or if you want say a more Western styled shoot then you will need gear that matches (Western style halter/bridle etc)
      • Feel free to get creative!
  • Other main things to do in preparation for the shoot include:
    • make sure the horse is neat and tidy before your photographer arrives! This may mean washing etc the day prior if you have time (or day of depending on shoot time) or at the very least ensuring they have been groomed as you want them to look their best!
    • ensure any gear you are including in the shoot is clean, again so it looks its best!
    • if you are introducing creative ideas into the shoot, make sure your horse is happy to deal with those elements prior to the shoot, as you don’t want to waste your time trying to train the horse to accept something new – it will just make you frustrated and flustered!
      • for example, if doing a shoot at the beach, if possible make sure the horse is used to the beach and is comfortable to go in the water etc
      • alternatively if you are planning on wearing non-traditional clothes (such as I did in the above ‘fashion’ shot) then make sure your horse is willing to accept you riding in something that covers them!
      • safety is paramount, so if you are not comfortable riding without a helmet etc, then discuss with your photographer so we can ensure that we don’t ask you to do something that you are not comfortable with
        • likewise if you are not comfortable wearing unsafe footwear, take this into consideration when selecting outfits etc
    • don’t feel that you need to practice poses etc in preparation for the shoot (unless you want to of course!) as that is our job!
      • You are more than welcome though to search online etc for ideas of what you want to try, and we can then put our own spin on it, and build on your ideas
      • It is also worthwhile considering prior to the shoot whether your horse will be comfortable with you leaning down, hugging next etc while you are on – we all know how precious they can be sometimes and its alway best to know beforehand what they are likely to do!


Hopefully this rather lengthy blog has helped answer any questions that you might have, and give you some inspiration when preparing for  your own horse shoot! If you have anything else that you would like to know, feel free to contact us!