Tips for Photographing Horses with Photographer & Pony Mom Erin Perryman

We all love our horses and probably have 3/4 of our iPhone memory devoted to photos and videos of our ponies. However, most of them probably aren’t exactly frame worthy. So we asked professional photographer and mom to a very passionate pony rider, Erin Perryman, a few tips for discovering our inner artist when pointing the lens at our (very patient) horses.

Take it away, Erin:

I love photographing horses.  Honestly, I was never a “horse person” or “horse photographer” until my daughter started riding at the age of 5, she’s now almost 8.  I’m still not sure I would consider myself a horse photographer but I do love it and I am around them quite a bit with my camera.  There is something that comes from the gentleness of such a large animal.  I love to capture the bond between the rider and the horse.  YES, I am a photographer, BUT first, I am a horse mommy to my daughter and her pony.  I get such a great sense of accomplishment when I can capture the emotion from both of them while I am shooting.  This means we spend a great deal of time together and I have to let the rider do “their thing” while I am just in the background trying not to impose on their routine.  I find that allowing the rider to do just that truly shows in the photos captured.

A few things I’ve learned:
-Find the Details:  candid photos tell the true story and get the true expressions from your subjects.  This can be little things from the horses getting groomed to little girls carrying their heavy tack or saddle while dragging their half chaps behind them.  Of course, take some posed shots with the beautiful sun peeking through trees behind you but those moments of a rider whispering into her pony’s ear, looking into their eyes and seeing the trust between the two, boots getting laced up tell a much greater story than anything else.  Even photos without the horse and rider in them are some of my favorites, buckles, bridles, dirty hands, etc.

-Don’t be afraid to get creative with composition.  Different angles are so fun and can really take your photo to the next level by stepping out of the “typical straight on shot”.

-Have a helping hand with you.  Bring someone along that knows horses.  You’ll need someone to distract the horse from the camera and get their attention when you have a curious horse wondering what you are doing there… and it helps get those ears perked up too!

-Don’t use a flash.  Do use a prime lens when shooting at “your location of choice” doing a personal photo shoot.  My go to lens is my 50mm f/1.2.  At horse shows I would suggest scouting out a good location where you can see enough without needing to move around much.  You’ll definitely want to use a good zoom lens for this, here I love my 70mm-200mm f/2.8.

-Be patient, relax and have a good time!!

Thank you,

Erin Perryman

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