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Tips for a Photoshoot on a horse with a rider in a long dress

The horses are beautiful and graceful creatures. Sometimes, driving around where I live, I see them peacefully strolling in fields. Each time, I’m captivated by their beauty, regardless of their color—whether white, black, or dark brown. 

When I lived in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, I rode a horse a couple of times in the eco-parks, but the idea of organizing a photoshoot on a horse never crossed my mind. Perhaps it happened because my focus for a long time was primarily on wedding, family, and underwater photography. Until one day, I received an email request from my photography website: “Elena, greetings! I am a professional equestrian, and I am interested in a photoshoot on horse in a long dress. Can you help with this kind of photography?” I was thrilled about this opportunity that guaranteed creative photos. Once we finalized all the details and decided on a date, I traveled to the ranch near Playa del Carmen, where we planned a photoshoot on a horse.

At the end of the article, you will find backstage videos from our photoshoot on a white horse.

horseback riding photoshoot

Tips for Organizing a photoshoot on horse

1.  Every horse has its own personality. Some may obediently follow commands, while others are more energetic and playful, making photography challenging. Since horses are naturally spirited animals, choosing a suitable horse for the photoshoot is crucial. Communicating with horse owners to understand the horse’s temperament beforehand can help prevent any surprises during a photoshoot on a horse.

white horse photoshoot

2. Horses can be startled by cameras, so I used a Nikkor 70-200 telephoto lens, allowing me to maintain a safe distance while capturing images of a girl riding a horse from afar. When photographing horses, opting for a zoom lens, which provides flexibility to adjust the focal length and easily capture photos from varying distances, is advisable.

horse photoshoot

3. When planning a photoshoot on horse, it’s essential to recognize that they express their emotions through body language. Experienced riders understand the intricacies of horse’s behavior, enabling them to discern whether a horse is content, anxious, or relaxed. In my case, the model Petra was an experienced rider, which greatly facilitated her interaction with the horse, keeping its spirits high throughout the photoshoot. If you’re not familiar with horse riding, it’s advisable to involve the horse’s owner or an experienced trainer to ensure a smooth and successful photo session.

photoshoot on horse summer forest

4. Avoid standing directly behind a horse or surprising it suddenly. It’s important to stay within the horse’s line of sight so they can see you. Abrupt movements or sudden appearances, such as jumping out from behind bushes, should be avoided. Never approach a horse by running towards it. Petra mentioned that bright colors unsettle some horses, so it’s best to be mindful of this during the photoshoot on a horse.

photoshoot on horse

5. When planning a photoshoot on horse during summer or autumn, any open space where horse walking is permitted can be a suitable location. If you’re a beginner in photography and unfamiliar with potential locations, it’s advisable to seek guidance from the horse owner. They are likely well-acquainted with ideal spots for horse walks, as they engage in this activity regularly.

photoshoot on horse girl in dress

6. It’s essential to exercise caution when using camera flash or Speedlight during a photoshoot on a horse. Some individuals refrain from using flash as it may startle the horses. It’s advisable to inquire beforehand whether additional lighting is permissible. This allows for careful planning of the photoshoot on horse, taking into consideration all lighting nuances and ensuring a smooth and successful photoshoot.

photoshoot on horse tips
equestrian photoshoot ideas

7. Focusing and exposure are crucial aspects to consider in a photoshoot on horses. It’s essential to focus precisely, particularly when the horse is in motion. If the lighting conditions permit, a fast shutter speed, ideally faster than 1/500, is recommended to capture sharp images. Additionally, shooting in RAW format is preferable, as it allows for adjustments to exposure levels in post-processing if needed.

White Horse riding photoshoot with model in a long dress

During the photoshoot on horse, Petra told me, “Horses have held a special place in my heart ever since I was a little girl. I’ve been involved in the equestrian industry my whole life, and these animals mean everything to me. They’ve become my partners, my best friends, and even part of my family. The equestrian lifestyle is unique, and the one thing uniting us all is our deep love for horses.”

photoshoot ideas with horses

Our photoshoot on white horse in the dress was in the forest, near the ranch where Petra’s chosen white-gray horse lives. When we began our creative endeavor, I noticed Petra’s adept horse handling. Her confident and precise movements demonstrated years of experience as a rider. As I constantly looked for the best angles and perspectives, Petra effortlessly controlled the horse’s occasional attempts to run. While I cannot speak to the difficulty she faced, from an outsider’s perspective, she made it all appear seamless. Indeed, as with many aspects of life, expertise in horse management comes with time and practice.

photoshoot on a white horse

Lighting was challenging at the beginning of a photoshoot. We began after 4 p.m., which was optimal considering the ranch’s opening hours and sunset timing. The sun was still relatively high in the sky during this period. As the sun’s rays filtered through the trees, they created random patches of light scattered across the models’ bodies. As a result, we often had to change locations to find a shooting spot with minimal glare.

photoshoot with horse near me

The photoshoot on horses was a remarkable experience filled with challenges and moments of beauty. The final photographs are a testament to the enduring allure of equestrianism and the timeless connection shared between horse and rider.

Stay inspired,

Elena Sullivan 

*All pictures posted in this article were taken by Elena Sullivan founder of ArsVie Photo Studio. You cannot copy or share these images without permission from ArsVie Photo Studio.


Get ready to be inspired as I discuss how staying curious, being creative, and saying “YES!” to adventures that involve exploring what’s behind the comfort zone helps develop courage, embrace one’s true self, and navigate life’s challenges.

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