Top Five Tips for a Successful Horse Photography Business

The Top Five Things I have Learned Running a Horse Photography Business

  1. Photograph what you love
  2. Learn how your camera works
  3. Tools aren’t everything
  4. Understand your subject
  5. Keep experimenting

Photograph What You Love

This has got to be the most important lesson when running a successful horse photography business.  Photography is a creative process, it requires emotional energy and effort.  Which means that loving what you photograph really enables you to show the subject in the best way possible.  You can’t do that if you don’t love it.

I love horses with all my heart.  I always have. And it’s incredibly important to me to capture these amazing creatures to show them off to their full advantage.  Always with sympathy and love.  And after almost 20 years of doing it, I still love them!

Learn How Your Camera Works

It sounds obvious but any camera, whether it’s old or the latest one, has a lot of buttons or features that enable it to work optimally.  You really have to take out the manual and go through it to learn what they do and which ones are relevant for you to learn how to use.  As you as you can get really comfortable with all those buttons and features, you can change them quickly and efficiently.  This is the trick to getting the best shots with the best light in the quickest time possible.

When you work with animals and especially with horses, they are so sharp and have such quick reactions that being able to switch modes on the camera, or ISO settings is a key part to getting those one-off unplanned images that can make the shoot complete.

So learn your camera. You won’t regret it!

Tools Aren’t Everything

This is a lesson which might sound a little bit contrary to the point before it but I learned this lesson when I realised that I was able to create the images that I had in my head with equipment that wasn’t the fanciest, or the most expensive.  The lights that I use when I take photographs of horses inside are old.  I have had them for around 15 years and, aside from having to replace the batteries in them, they still work really well and help me to produce the images that I want to create.  The advantage is also that I know how they work – see point above!

I love these lights. I know how they work, I can adjust them fast and efficiently because I know them so well. They are light and manoeuverable and they do the job absolutely perfectly!

The latest equipment really isn’t necessarily going to help you to get to the images you want.  What gets you those images is knowing your equipment inside and out and practising with it.  Keep practising! That is what is going to improve your images.

Understand Your Subject

This is pretty closely related to the first point of love your subject but there is a difference.

To understand your subject, especially when it has to do with horses, means that you need to know how they react to situations.  How they look from certain angles. What scares them. What relaxes them. What interests them.

This, of course has to do with horses.  But it would apply to any living creature including people!

If you want to photograph horses, then spend time with them without your camera if you can.  Sit with them in the fields and stables, watch how they react to each other.  Walk around them if you can to see which angles look best.  Watch them move and how the light falls on them.  You will learn so much which you can then use when you have them in front of your camera.

Keep Experimenting

It is so easy when one runs a successful business to get too comfortable in one’s processes.  But after a while, if you are anything like me, that can get frustrating.

Try new things.  New angles or go for more abstract images through intentional camera blur and slow shutter speeds.  Try new editing techniques.  Use textures.  Converting images to black & white is a quick and obvious thing to try.

But no experiment should come at the cost of your own vision and joy in the making of the image.  There is no point in trying something new if you aren’t convinced by it.  Get excited by it. Try it and if it doesn’t work, that’s OK, just shelve it.

More information

If you want to have a look at some fine art photographs, take a look at my horse gallery here, or buy prints here!

If you are interested in learning more about how to photograph horses, let’s have a chat to see how I can help you.  Click the picture below to set up a call…


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