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The 5 Common Mistakes New Equine Photographers Make

Every day behind a camera is a new adventure, but the best – and often, most frustrating – adventures come with a heaping helping of trial and error. We want to help you reach the next level as quickly as possible, so we’ve compiled some of the most common mistakes that we see new equine photographers making. Are you guilty?

  • Not shooting RAW. Many new photographers rely on JPG files because they’re familiar with these as image files. But in doing so, you do yourself a massive disservice. JPG files depreciate in image quality every time they’re edited, and they don’t hold information in the same way a RAW file does, so blown highlights or dark shadows, for example, can’t be fixed. Instead, make space for large, information-heavy RAW files – you’ll be able to make as many edits as you need to, save images that you didn’t nail in-camera, and export a high-quality, gorgeous JPG at the end of it.
  • Not studying equine movement. Many equestrian photographers get into the game because they’re avid riders themselves, and in this case, they’re usually innately aware of which point of a stride looks most appealing. But if you’re less familiar with the intricacies of movement, it’s worth taking the time to study it and see what the most commonly-used and appealing moment of each stride pattern is. Our recommendation? Go old-school and look at Muybridge’s motion studies. They revolutionised equine art, as no one knew quite what a horse’s canter stride looked like before they were released, and they’ll change the game for you, too.
  • Not panning to capture movement. There’s a huge amount of luck involved in capturing a sharp image of a moving horse if you’re always just waiting for it to pass in front of your camera. Instead, follow it, continually adjusting your focus – or using a continuous focusing mode to do so for you. Hey presto – you’ll nail the shot, almost every time.
  • Treating every breed or type the same way. Horses are endlessly unique, and that means each of them deserve to be photographed for their strengths, not their weaknesses. Sports horses are elegant and leggy, and will be able to pull off poses and angles that won’t be as attractive on a cob. Look for your model’s positives – does he have a kind eye, or look strong and noble? Perhaps he has unique colouring that would be best emphasized against a stark black background. Once you’ve spotted the things that make him unique, you can begin to tailor your shoot around emphasizing those features, rather than using a one-size-fits-all approach.
  • Playing the comparison game. The equestrian photography scene is rapidly expanding, and there are so many incredibly talented people making their mark on it. Does that mean you should try to emulate their work? Nope. What separates the greats is their ability to put their own stamp on the genre. By all means study their photos, try to work out how they were taken, and rework some of their techniques and concepts into your own images, but always keep in mind that you won’t truly be successful unless you’re true to yourself.