DIY Ranch Photography- Part 2- Prep work

You have a purpose and a vision established. Now it is time to set yourself up for success and set the plan into motion.

This list will get you prepared for the big day.

Have a list of shots prepared.

Go in with a game plan. When working with animals and Mother Nature, plans can quickly change, but you should at least start out with one. Have a list of locations prepared. Know what shots you’d like to capture before calling it quits.

Get your props ready.

Will you be taking photos of the horse with a saddle or not? Bridle or halter? Do you want to add things like a sled, tire, rider or multiple riders. You might want to add things like a Christmas wreath or hat. Have these things readily available. You won’t want to take time in the middle of the shoot to get them located or cleaned up.

Prepare Your Horse.

Have your horse clean. This may take some planning depending on the weather conditions and your accessibility to a washing area.
Have your horse well groomed- from hooves to ears and everything in between. Any clipping should be done a few days-week ahead. This will allow time for a tiny bit of growth, making it easier to hide imperfections or a choppy cut.

Here is an example of what not to do, unless a spotlight on the mud and atmosphere is your goal. A dirty horse and rider can definitely take away from the overall photo quality. Candid shots aren’t worthless; they are a great way to record memories. Just remember that you wouldn’t want to submit this as your catalog entry for a horse sale.

Prepare Your People.

Will you, or another human, be in the photographs? Now is the time to choose a flattering outfit, dust off the hat and make sure everyone is looking their best. Remember your focus. Do you want the attention to go to the person or do you prefer the main attraction to be the animal, landscape, building? Take this answer into consideration when deciding between a subtle outfit or one with flair and flash. Beware of distractions.

In these photos, my dad’s bright shirt is a bit distracting. It was fine because these pictures were taken for fun. He can be the center of attention if he wants, I guess. These shots do provide an example of how clothing and accessories can draw your eye. Keep that in mind and use it to your advantage.

Get help.

Having an assistant sounds a bit presumptuous, but call it want you will, having help will make a huge difference. A horse is an animal and they don’t often act on voice commands. Imagine dealing with a toddler during a photography session and you won’t be far off. You’ll need to keep the horse in position, keep it alert, keep it still, all while looking its best. This can be almost impossible to manage while behind the camera.

Even my young nephew made a great assistant during this photo shoot. He can easily be cropped out of the final picture, but I wanted to catch him in action with this one.

Prepare the Lighting

Take a little time to study the basics of light placement.
You’ll want a well-lit area for the session with the brightest rays highlighting the best features. Light can also be used to create some special effects. Backlighting can be used for a silhouette effect and other positioning techniques can aid in background removal later during the editing process. You can go from basic to specialized; its up to you. Know the end result you’re wanting to create and start researching. The information is out there and the possibilities are nearly endless.

Visit the photo shoot area at the same time of day prior to your scheduled date. This will give you the most accurate assessment of the lighting situation. Adjust your plan as needed by moving or adding in artificial light.

Bonus Tip: Control what you can and embrace what you can’t. Be prepared, but don’t try to plan out every second of the photo shoot. Get organized ahead of time and relax a bit when it is time to say “Cheese”.

Related Posts & Pages:
DIY Ranch Photography Part 1
Even my dad can ride Parker. Check out this great horse HERE.

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