Equestrian Tips, Horse & Rider, Info for you

May 11, 2022

8 lessons from my own photoshoot

I’m a horse girl just like most of you, so you might be wondering, what happens when the photographer wants pictures of herself with her own horse? After all, I want my walls covered with pictures of Arthur too! Here are 8 things I learned when I did my own photoshoot.

It wasn’t as smooth sailing as when I’m behind the camera! It ended up being a five person job (plus my mum because she wouldn’t miss it!). My dad manning the camera… then, so he didn’t have to think about too much, my usual assistant with my posing guide to remind me what I was supposed to be doing… one person to do ears, another to hold and position Arthur. And then me trying to be in the photographs, direct myself and the team where to stand to get the best light and angles out of Arthur, and running out to play back the shots and check on how the technical aspects were looking. And then of course back to me afterwards to do all the editing 🤯🤯🤯 Hiring a photographer is certainly much easier, but then I wouldn’t have had the creative direction! It was absolutely a team effort – I’m glad my clients can hire me and my assistant, and relax instead of sourcing five people 🥴

So what were the 8 things I learned from my own photoshoot?

1. Try and plan the photo-session around other events.

Silly me realised I was getting to the end of his Summer coat and raced to put this together… after having done his black background photographs two weeks before. (That’s not the silly part, by the way)

For our black background photographs, I had Arthur all plaited up beautifully. But without a second thought, I did my classic move of just chopping off the end of the plaits (OOPS). I ended up with a mane which was jagged and too short for me to tidy it up without basically hogging it!

In summary… think about what else you have on before your photo-session. And probably don’t be a lazy plaiter!!

2. Don’t go too crazy with the dye or coloured shampoos

I love my old faithful Equinade coloured shampoos, and so a tonne of red and a smidge of black went in the bucket that day. As I would on any day, I didn’t bother to wear gloves – I was too obsessed with making sure his coat was gleaming red. As a result my hands were stained a lovely orange for my photos, like I’d been over-enthusiastic with tanning lotion. I photoshopped it off in many, but some I clearly missed!!

So be cautious with your coloured shampoos and dyes. If you don’t use them often, try them out a couple of weeks before so you know the perfect quantity for your horse (Anyone who’s dyed a white tail purple will know). And secondly, wear gloves!!

3. Sometimes, it really is just easier to hire a pro.

I am not a makeup person, but thought I’d buy a tonne of stuff and get a friend to do it for me on the day. It wasn’t until after I bought half of Priceline, and actually until I put together my own Welcome Guide and my list of local makeup artists, that I realised I could have basically hired someone for all I spent. Less stress, less mula, less makeup sitting around which I haven’t used since and will probably go out of date before I have reason to use it… and I would have saved my friends a lot of messages going “what the hell is a primer and why are there 50 types?!”

I had my hair done professionally by the lovely girls at HairShak n Beauty in Londonderry and it was a lot less stressful.

4. Rehydrate!

I got so. Thirsty. Being in photos is hard work! I often get quite thirsty when I’m behind the camera, but I underestimated how much I’d need water on the other end of things! You do a lot of moving around, getting on and off your horse and especially if it’s hot, you dry up quickly. Not to mention if you’re nervous, your mouth feels dry anyway! Definitely recommend making sure you have water on hand.

5. Triple check the tack

It wasn’t until I walked out mid-session in my nice dress, with my hair starting to stick to my forehead from the humidity, that I realised I hadn’t bothered to swap my bits from our work bridle over to our show bridle I wanted to use. Triple. Check. Everything!!

6. Don’t forget the in between clothes!

Not something I did wrong, but something I did right (a rare appearance on this list) – your pair of boots or gumboots to walk between locations is invaluable. We walked a few hundred metres which included rocks, mud and long grass to get from one location to the other… the boots were invaluable. And made for some classic BTS photos!

Truly…. a look.

7. Consider the straddling . . .

If you want photographs of you on your horse in a dress, it basically needs to have either a split or be super long.

I had visions of stunning photos of me in my flowing gown, sitting astride my noble steed. But I didn’t consider that my beautiful, gauzy gown had an inner lining that was cut closer than the outer skirt. When it came to sitting on Arthur, it rode up weirdly around my legs and was hard to get it to sit right. It’s definitely worth considering how your skirt will fall if you’re intending on bareback photographs. Especially if it has a tight inner lining!

8. You will be SORE afterward

Partially from the sit up, get down, sit up, get down… but it wasn’t all bad! By the end of the night, my face was sore from how much I had been smiling and laughing. Not only at my friends’ antics to get Arthur’s ears up, but from how much fun I had just getting to be with my horse and capturing these special moments. It was a great reminder that the best part about having a photoshoot with your horse is the chance to cut loose and just enjoying an excuse to hang out with them!

Getting to be on the other side of the camera for a change really was a learning experience. So I’m passing on all these tips to my clients in the future.

Team work really did make the dream work though, and now I have some photos of my own gorgeous boy Arthur for a coffee table book of my own.

All of my learnings from my session, and everything I’ve learned from working with my clients has gone into my Welcome Guide, which all of my clients get once they book. It also includes a checklist, because I love checklists! Want to know more about with a Half Steps Photography session includes? Find out more!

Want to know what it’s like to be in front of the camera, too?

Read about the HSP photo session experience.

9 reasons why you should be in photos with your horse

what if my horse won't stand still?


I always recommend being IN the photographs with your horse.
Find out why here.


Spoiler: no horse does! Read about some ways you can prepare your horse, and how we manage spicy horses on the day.


presentation tips for your equine photoshoot


what if i don't have a pretty property?

Take a behind the scenes look at some locations I've photographed, and see some options for if you're still unsure about your property!

Take the stress out of your day with tips for getting your horse picture perfect! 

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(very important horse person)

are you a v.I.H.P?

I believe that everyone, at every price point, deserves stunning photographs with their horse.

That's why I offer a taste-test of the HSP experience on selected occasions:

Pop-up studio at horse shows
Group sessions with friends or at your agistment available on request
Seasonal mini sessions (sunflower, autumn, lavender, wattle, Christmas mini sessions)

Pop-up studio at horse shows

Group sessions with friends or at your agistment available on request

Seasonal mini sessions (sunflower, autumn, lavender, wattle, Christmas mini sessions)

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