Easy Tips to Prepare for a Professional Horse Photography Session

Easy Tips to Prepare for a Professional Horse Photography Session

We spend many special times with our horses, and the unique bond that forms is indescribable. A professional horse photography session is a wonderful way to capture that bond. And create everlasting memories in personalized wall art.

You want the session to go perfectly. And for both your equine friend and you to enjoy it. Here are a Brisbane professional animal photographer’s top tips to help you plan for a relaxed, enjoyable photography session with your horse.

Choosing Your Photographer

It’s easy to choose the photographer for this special horse portrait by looking at the photographer’s portfolio. But there is more to consider. A key tip is to ask how they will approach the session:

  • How will they make sure that all three of you remain safe and relaxed?
  • What will you do if something doesn’t go as planned – maybe your horse isn’t in the mood that day.

An experienced animal photographer will have strategies to capture that amazing image in a split second. And be tuned to your precious horse’s psychology to know when it’s enough. And to listen to you because you know your companion best!

Choosing A Photo Session Location

Give thought to the area and environment you will use on the day and ensure it is also looking its best.  Together with the photographer, you should plan well in advance the location you’ll use.  For example, a barn wall that is clear of all debris and clutter can be used to create a blank canvas for a portrait photograph that can be edited later.

If it’s a shared space or a dedicated photography studio, communicate to make sure that you’ll have suitable access. And that it will be physically and psychologically safe for you horse.

An experienced animal photographer will always prioritize your horse’s safety and comfort ahead of the photo session. She’ll give the horse time to explore and acclimatize to the location, and to her presence and what she’s doing, and any new noises. 

Preparing For The Photography Session

Preparation is key to a great photo session and will make you and your horse feel more at ease. Your horse will pick up the energy on the day and respond accordingly – so aim to relax, breathe, and enjoy. Try to stick to your regular routines as much as possible.

Decide on the ‘look and feel’ you want to capture of your horse and prepare. A great pet photographer will listen to you in advance to learn about your horse and its preferences. And what you want the images to convey about your beautiful creature. They will come out to the photo session location.

If the photo session is in their studio, she’ll explain the setup to you in detail. And allow extra time. This is to understand the potential angles to capture – and to be aware of any potential distractions and hazards for your sensitive creature. You might even want to check the venue out beforehand.

While amazing photographs will be with you forever, the highest priority is the well-being of the photographer’s four-legged muse.

Your horse is unique and a great photographer will seek to portray those unique elements in the images she prepares.

Groom And Prepare Your Horse

All grooming and preparation should be completed before the photo session starts. Do whatever you can in advance of the day itself. This will ensure that everyone is relaxed, including your horse, and that there is enough time to capture the horse portraits you’re after. You don’t want to be cleaning and polishing gear at the last minute when you want to be calm and enjoy the moment!

The key, as always, is to allow enough time for the preparation.

Preparing Equipment And Props

If you are used to preparing your horse for show jumping and dressage, you will have a good idea of the time it takes you to prepare. Of course, all your gear should be prepared and polished to the standard you want in the photos. It’s not the time to introduce new props that your horse isn’t yet familiar with.

Even if you are going for a more natural look than when you prepare for an event, still wash, dry, and groom your horse. It’s nice to have a smooth and shiny mane and tail. Applying a small amount of product to your fingers and running it through your horse’s mane will help to smooth it out and take care of any stray hairs. For the best photographs, your horse will need to be completely dry before the shoot, so ensure you have allowed enough time. Any braiding and clipping must be completed before the session starts. 

If you have a white horse, take extra care when bathing and use stain removal if necessary. But don’t put your horse through a new routine that it has never experienced before. We’re asking our friend to be at their best. Let’s keep it stress-free to help them in a new situation.

As always, hooves and shoes should be well maintained and cared for. If your horse’s hooves need a farrier, make sure to do this well in advance of your photography booking.

In a nutshell – you know how you want to present your horse. Just follow your usual dressing routine that you both know.

Keep your grooming supplies on hand for any touch-ups that might be needed during the photo session. Depending on the season, it can be good to include fly spray with your grooming kit. 

Let Personality Outshine The Equipment

There’s no need to do something new. The aim is to allow your horse’s personality, and connection with you, to shine through. That will happen best when they are relaxed and happy. A professional photographer is skilled at capturing that perfect moment – and a bit of imperfection adds to your horse’s portrait. And will spark more affectionate memories for you. It will add to the authenticity of the forever artwork you will be able to display in your home.

Remember To Plan Your Outfit For The Horse Photography Session Too!

If you are planning to have photographs taken of you and your horse together, plan what you are wearing. Preferably have at minimum two sets of clothes available for the day and consider ease of changing and location.

Even though you may be wearing different clothes from what you would typically wear when handling and working with your horse, it is still essential that you wear appropriate footwear.

Is Exercise Or Rest The Best Preparation For A Photography Session With Your Horse?

Ultimately, the photo shoot aims to capture your horse in all its glory, showcasing its personality and innate nature.

There is no straightforward answer to whether it is best to exercise or rest your horse before the session, as it depends on the horse’s temperament and what is planned for the photography session.

If you have an active horse, some light exercise and lunging before the session can help ensure your horse is settled and not too excited. 

At the same time, be mindful that we don’t want to work up a sweat and undo all the grooming – if that’s the style you’re after.

An older, quieter horse may need extra quiet time before as a photography session can be tiring.

The best advice is to avoid having any hard and fast rules on the day but rather assess the situation and adjust accordingly.

Feeding And Treats For Your Horse

We are all creatures of habit, but it is harder to explain to your horse that feed time is being delayed because you’re trying to capture his best side. So, again, preparation is the key. 

If the equine photo session is scheduled during normal feed time, consider either feeding or providing a portion of the feed before the session.

Also, be aware of whether any other animals and horses will be fed nearby, as this can cause a major distraction to a hungry horse.

Packing some favorite treats and carrots can come in extremely useful!

The Lowdown On How To Prepare For Your Horse’s Photography Session

best horse photographer brisbane

Credit: zoostudio.com.au

Preparing for a horse photography session is simple when we remember that it’s all about making the experience enjoyable. A great photographer will have a process that guides you and makes it easy for you. So, top tips:

  • Choose your animal photographer for their photography skills and their connection with animals
  • Stick with your usual routines with your horse and keep it stress-free
  • Prepare with plenty of time to spare for gremlins
  • Communicate with your photographer so that you know what to expect and it goes smoothly on the day
  • Relax, enjoy, and create beautiful memories.


  • Dr Louise Cosgrove

    The founder of Exclusively Equine Veterinary Services, Louise is driven to support horses in their recovery from injury or illness. A graduate of the University of Queensland, with international equin...

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