Capturing the soul of horses at liberty

slow shutter speed galloping horse

Having been life-long horse people, we know how important it is to understand horses; the way they move, their behaviours and individual characters to really get the most out of an equine photoshoot. 

To our clients, their horses are family and they have commissioned you because they want you to capture the soul of their horse and the relationship they have with them.

You must always remember that horses can be unpredictable and part of your job as an equine photographer it to get to know your subjects so you can have a fun, safe and successful at-liberty shoot.

Breeding & personality

Think about the breed of horse you are photographing and the type of images you might produce to truly capture its character. For example, if you were photographing an Arabian horse, they are typically firey so you might want to focus on the beautiful bend in their neck and the flair of their tail held up high as they run.

Plan, plan and plan some more

Carefully consider how you will use the location, lighting, compostition and post-processing to capture your subject. Are you going to zoom in tight to capture intricate details or capture the horse standing proudly on the brow of a hill for a dramatic shot? Are you going to shoot outdoors utilising natural light or indoors with artificial lighting? Are you going for high drama and dark contrast or bright and soft, with muted tones? Make sure to have an idea in your head of what direction you would like the to shoot to go in and how you plan to execute it. The more you plan, the more space you give yourself to get creative.


Set yourself apart as a true professional by covering all your bases when dealing with horse safety. Horses are unpredictable; all it takes is a rather scary looking plastic bag to make an otherwise reliable horse to freak out and head for the hills!

When shooting a horse at liberty, use an enclosed space – large enough to get the galloping shots (if that is what you are aiming for) but not too large that you will lose your subject a few fields away! Check to make sure gates are shut and fences are high enough that they won’t be tempted to go show jumping. Communicate your plans to the owner, but be aware of body language – our clients want to say yes but if there is any doubt make sure to ask more questions. Give your assistant/s a brief to ensure they are also aware of the basic rules of dealing with horses on the ground e.g don’t walk behind their hind legs. Remember to keep yourself safe as well – it is easy to get lost in the moment but you need to make sure you are avoiding flying hooves.

Be brave

The photographers who make an impact in this industry are the ones who push the boundaries. Don’t let fear stop you – be brave, step outside your comfort zone and have fun with it! Experiment with different shutter speeds, angles, compositions, exposures, filters and so on – there are no limits.

Even if you come away from a creative shoot with only a handful of useable images, if you keep going out there and trying something new, your portfolio will start building up pretty quickly.

Want to learn more about capturing the beauty of horses at-liberty?

Well have we got tones of options for you!

Get started now by checking out our webinar: 

Ready to get truely creative?

Join us in June for our Equine Fine Art Photography Workshop for 2 incredible days spent at our studio in the New Forest. We will run two amazing, on-location shoots complete with equine models where you will learn the settings and techniques Emily & Hannah use to create fine art equine images, and you will leave with a bank of beautiful images for your portfolio and the knowledge and confidence to set up an equine fine art shoot from start to finish. 

slow shutter speed galloping horse