Beauty & Lifestyle Mommy magazine styled two beautiful sessions with a few privately owned horses and maternity models on the seashores of Amelia Island, Florida. Motherhood Society member and editor Ashly Collins Photography flew in from West Virginia and captured this collection of gorgeous images from the shoots. It was definitely a learning experience and below we share our top 5 tips on working with horses. Enjoy!
1. Setting the Stage
Arrive at the location early while the horse is being groomed. Let the horse smell you and get comfortable with your presence, place your camera around your neck as you get to know the horse. Take a few images of the horse being groomed and let everyone (horse and rider included) go through their routine in an undisturbed relaxed manner. Make sure the horse is being prepped with a neutral colored halter, they are often bold and colorful and you do not want them to stand out in your photos. Have your model arrive in enough time to slowly get to know the horse in the same manner (if your model is not the rider) Note: Try not to wear any strong fragrances or have recently eaten anything with a strong smell.
2. Getting the Horse’s Attention
In order to get the horse’s attention, you’ll need a few tricks. There are very advanced apps that have horse noises you can use during your shoot or speaking in a calm and playful voice. It’s very important to get the horse’s ears standing up straight and pointed in your direction. This shows attention and interest. I found this great article on how to read the signals horses give you and you can speak with the rider/handler and have them cue you on signs that the horse is paying attention and not jittery. HERE The other trick is to bring treats. If you want the horse to nuzzle with the model, you can put treats in certain spots to make it look like there was interaction.
3. Get the Jitters Out
Like most animals, a horse’s attention is quite short. We noticed that Ashly would get a few great shots and then the horse needed to be diverted as it would get agitated staying in just one position for too long. Making sure to allow enough time during the session for the rider/handler can take the horse on a short walk to get some energy out or circle and come back to the same position before you continue to shoot. Note: Remeber that horses, like people can sink into softer sands near the water, be aware of surrounding; big waves, high and low tides, softer sands, and passing beach goers.
4. Perspective is Important
Unlike smaller animals, you’ll need to be attentive to how you measure up to the horse. You should hold the camera at about the height of the chest of the horse. You’ll notice if you go too far down the legs look longer. If you go too far up the legs look shorter. Perspective is going to be very important in the final images that you create.
5. Remember to Relax
Horses can feel your fear or your calmness and it will reflect in their attention and interaction with your model. We experienced two different shoots with the same group of horses, one with a model who was very calm and comfortable around horses and the second who was very nervous and cautious, the horses reflected the emotions of the models and it certainly affected the interaction between horse and model showing in the images.
LOCATION: AMELIA ISLAND, FLORIDA
PHOTOGRAPHER: ASHLY COLLINS PHOTOGRAPHY
MAKEUP & HAIR: FAYTHE ELOISE
STYLING: BEAUTY & LIFESTYLE MOMMY MAGAZINE
GOWNS: SEW TRENDY ACCESSORIES