Taking Photos

By Nancy Lane Smith

First of all, you need a decent camera, several rolls of film, three people and some grain or carrots.
You need to have one person to hold the horse, one to take the pictures and one person to hold the goodies.

The person with the horse will put on a decent halter and then try to pick a spot on the property with nothing in the background, such as cars, trash cans or other horses, if possible.  Maybe an open field, or next to the side of the barn, even a very quiet country road.  If the horse is kept in a stall or a dirt paddock, you are going to have problems with the horse trying to graze if you go to a grassy spot.  I have  been successful with a very behaved horse standing on the lawn of a nice home, though we had to discourage him trying to taste it!

 The person with the goodies will stand next to the side of the photographer.

The horse handler will stand the horse broadside to the photographer, even if you are not especially looking for a full body shot.  When the horse bends his head around slightly to the side to look at the person with the goodies, you will get the most flattering pose for the head.  You want the ears up, sparkle in the eye, interested in the grain.  If you can barely see the eyeball from the far side of the head, itís perfect.  DONíT take photos of the horse looking straight at you!  This is why the goodie holder is standing to the side of the photographer, from 3 ft. away to maybe even 8 ft. away (you will vary this distance from photo to photo).

Give him a handful every once in a while to keep his interest, but let him chew it before taking any photos.  Donít take only a few photos and think you have it!  Even professional photographers use a lot of film.  ( I usually shoot one to two rolls of film per horse, and I have taken photos for my portrait  paintings for over 10 years!).  Take at least 5 or 6 photos of the same pose, have the goodie person stand a little closer or farther away and take more, then stand on the OTHER side of the photographer, take about 6 more photos,   then give the horse a goodie and reposition him, maybe facing the other way, or with the sun coming from in a different direction.

A few things to keep in mindÖÖtake your time and donít become upset with the horse for moving around or being impatient.  This puts everyone on edge, including the horse,  and you wonít get good photos if the horse is sullen or afraid of you.  Just gently reposition him and take your time.  If you are looking for a full body shot and want the feet to be in halter position, this can take even more patience.

Also, it helps if you have a camera with a variable zoom lens.  Stand back a short distance from the horse, and then zoom up on it, making sure the horse takes up the whole frame.   Donít stand just 4 or 5 feet away and take photos, or you will get the ďbig nose, little earsĒ effect!!   You also donít want a lot of background showing.  His ears should almost touch the top of the picture, and his feet should almost touch the bottom if you are working on a full body shot, or for a nice head shot the ears should almost touch the top and his nose almost touch the bottom of the picture.

Give this a try, and donít be stingy on film.  Youíll be about normal if you get one or two photos that you really like.

Nancy Lane Smith

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