You have chosen your photoshoot package and booked a date, now the countdown is on. The excitement starts to build, and you start to tell your friends when suddenly you think "What should I wear?", "Will my barn be good enough for black background photos?" or "How should I stand in the photos?". I know for some people that having their photo taken can be a daunting experience, but I want to reassure you that a photoshoot with me will not be something you'll regret. I have outlined 5 tops tips to help you prepare for your photoshoot. Some of them are questions that clients have asked in the past, and some are just general suggestions from me that I believe will help you feel confident when the big day finally comes.
Your yard does not need to be in an area of outstanding beauty, with valleys as far as the eye can see to be classed as a good photoshoot location. Most of my photoshoots take place on ‘normal' yards that are close to towns and not in the middle of nowhere. Of course, having stunning scenery or a wood locally can make a lovely addition to your photoshoot, but it's far from essential to achieve gorgeous photos of you and your four-legged family. This photo is a great example of a location that someone might overlook, but it created a lovely setting for some photos.
This photo was taken at the edge of a short gravel drive, which leads to the yard. There were just two trees, on a grassy verge, with a brick wall behind them. It's as simple as that! For the remainder of the photoshoot, we wandered down the adjacent lane where we found a small bridge going over a brook, a byway and the edge of a crop field – all other great photo locations.
If you are thinking of using a tree within a photoshoot, it's important to make sure it's not too tall. In the example above, the tree trunk has some Ivy on it, which meant it didn't matter that the leaves were high up. A plain tree trunk is not very exciting for photos and if the tree is tall, zooming out to fit the leaves in would make you and your horse very small and this is not ideal for more than just a few photos.
Some other photoshoot locations that work well include freshly poo picked fields, byways or rural lanes with thin/no tree cover, crop fields (with permission), and driveways. If you're interested in capturing some black background horse portraits all we need is the use of a barn, stable, field shelter or indoor school with access to natural lighting from the outside. I have never attended a photoshoot and not been able to find more than one suitable photo location. Brainstorming some possible locations before the photoshoot is very handy and then when I arrive we can discuss these locations between us an head to the best sounding spots.
This has to be one of the most common questions I get asked. My first bit of advice is to wear something you feel comfortable in. Don't force yourself to wear a dress that you saw in someone else's social media picture if it's going to make you feel insecure during the photoshoot. The last thing you want is to look back at your photos and regret your outfit choice.
You might want to do some outfit changes during your session - I recommend 2-3 if this is something you'd be interested in. A popular choice for my clients is one jeans and t-shirt outfit followed by a summery dress or similar (if the weather is on our side). I find this outfit combination works well to make the photoshoot more diverse. I could list many different outfit ideas that I think would look nice, but ultimately, it's up to you and your style. However, I can advise on what not to wear based on the nature of photoshoots. One outfit no-go would be a tight, short skirt or dress. Some of my suggested poses include crouching or sitting down and it would not be good to have a wardrobe malfunction. Also, horses can be strong, so it's always good to feel as though you are not restricted and able to keep hold of them whilst we're out and about. I would also suggest not wearing your regular yard clothes. I'm sure your phone is full of photos that friends, and family, have taken of you with your horse in the past wearing regular yard clothes. A photoshoot is a little more special, so wearing something you don't usually wear around horses helps make each photo feel that little bit more magical. This can be as simple as wearing a pair of leggings and a pretty top if you're not interested in wearing dresses or jeans.
Below I have included a few photos that show off some outfit choices from my previous clients. As I have already mentioned, the main takeaway is to wear something you are comfortable in. I often tell people to choose an outfit that they would wear to a family meal or a day out shopping. But remember, photoshoots can include slobber, mud and horsehair, so make sure you choose something that you don't mind getting a little grubby.
This is something that can get overlooked, but from a photographer's perspective, it's very important. Firstly, always give your horse a good groom before the photoshoot. Some people like to bath them the day before, especially if they own a grey. My suggestion would be to treat a photoshoot like a competition day and make sure they're looking just as smart as you. Being a horse rider myself, I know that some stains just will not budge. Don't panic if your horse decides to gift you one of these stains on the day, it is possible to improve them post-photoshoot.
Plaiting. Sometimes I get asked whether to plait or not, and my personal preference is a tidy, natural mane because most of your competition photos will show off the plaited version of your horse. However, if you fancy making them look super smart, then plait away!
Next, what tack should you put on them? My go-to is a bridle. You will have a bit more control if needed, and it looks tidier than your everyday nylon headcollar, which usually has a persistent muddy stain on it somewhere. However, if you have a nice leather headcollar this works just as well. If you want to do some ridden photos and wish to use a saddle, I would recommend digging out a smart saddle pad or numnah to replace your daily one. Photoshoots can also require a bit of bribery for your horse, so another top tip is to stock up on their favourite treats to keep them keen and interested throughout.
And finally, if you are dreaming of capturing that natural, tack-free photo of your horse, make sure you bring a long lunge line with you. I always carry a rope halter in the boot of my car, as these can be easily removed in photoshop afterwards. This way if your horse can't be free-schooled loosely at your yard, we can lunge them and then create the liberty effect via editing.
Even after reading all the above tips, I appreciate that you might still be stuck for ideas. Whether that's outfit related or posing ideas to help you feel ready to go on the day. I would suggest browsing the internet to look for inspiration. I regularly post my favourites photos from past photoshoots to both my Facebook and Instagram accounts, so that would be a great place to start your search. Furthermore, Pinterest is a great platform. I use it regularly to give me some fresh ideas to implement on photoshoots. You could even create a Pinterest board just for your favourite photos and share it with me to help me tailor your photoshoot. There are so many photos to look at so utilise the World Wide Web and find your favourite types of photos.
Last but not least, remember to relax. I understand that having your photo taken can be daunting, I hate to be the other side of the camera myself, but I promise you it will be fine. People often say that they forget I am there. If you're doing your thing and working the camera with your horse, I let you carry on and capture those special moments between you and your horse. On the other hand, if you need a bit more help to get into the swing of things, I'll tell you some poses to get the ball rolling. Before you know it it'll just be you and your horse spending some quality time together.
Feel free to read this fabulous testimonial from Hollie, which, in my opinion, sums up how awesome a photoshoot is:
"The upsetting time came for me to have to put my horse of half my lifetime to sleep. I wouldn't have chosen anyone else but Caitlin. Even though it was a very emotional time, Caitlin had a way of making the shoot feel effortless and enjoyable, like it was just me and my horse(s). She captured stunning photos that I will cherish for a lifetime.
She was very understanding and sympathetic, and captured shots I also requested. Her attention to detail was exquisite and her patience (with a very unconfident person in front of the camera) was appreciated. I can't thank her enough. I would definitely recommend her to anyone thinking of getting a photoshoot done without hesitation."
That's my 5 top tips! I hope that if you have a photoshoot booked you now feel a little more relaxed and ready for your photoshoot. Maybe you're reading this because you're considering booking a photoshoot of your own. If that's the case, I hope this blog has given you an insight into what to expect from a photoshoot with me. Please remember that all my tips are just suggestions to help you get ready. You do not need to go out and clear the shelves at your local tack shop after reading this blog. It's also important to remember that this is your photoshoot, you dictate what sort of photos you have taken on the day and what you want to wear.
There are loads of different testimonials available on my website and Facebook page, so please take a look and see what real clients have said after experiencing a photoshoot. If you'd like to discuss booking a photoshoot of your own, feel free to contact me to discuss anything that's on your mind.