How to Take Horse Sale Pictures – Part Two


In my last post, we covered a bit of prep work that can change the perceived value of your horse and how to best prepare your horse and picture spot.

Now we are moving onto a little bit more of the technical parts of taking a nice picture of your horse. The three points I will cover in this post will be: where the sun needs to be in relation to your horse, how to set their feet, and where they should be looking.

First starting with lighting. If possible a sunny day works the best to take pictures. It helps your horse appear to be more polished looking along with increasing the dimension in their muscles. If you are shooting without any added light the best time to shoot is 3-4 hours before or 3-4 hours after high noon. If you are shooting with added light such as a speedlite or strobe, there is a lot more lead way with the time that is optimal to shoot in. Anytime except for the hour or so when the sun is directly above in the sky.

The sun needs to be at your back, and shining directly onto the side of the horse that you are photographing. The shadow should fall somewhere on the side of the horse opposite to you.

When I was photographing this horse I really wanted to emphasize the horses strong muscles in his shoulder. As you can see the horse is positioned so his shadow is falling slighting more towards his hip. Areas in light emphasize the area and shadows hide. Notice that there is a slight shadow on his gaskin area. If this horse was smaller hipped and less muscular in that area I would have opted to have the shadow fall slightly towards his head to prevent any shadowing in that area. Each horse you photograph needs to be evaluated and shot to help show off the best version of them.

Now moving onto their feet. Again depending on the horse and their stature, we need to evaluate how large or small of a gap there should be between their front legs and their back legs. Typically, a smaller gap between their two front feet so there is just enough of a gap to see daylight between them.

If a horse is more muscular and large chested, a slightly larger gap between their front feet can help balance them throughout the photo. Now for their back feet, a larger gap can help show off their hip. This first grey gelding was a solid 15.1-15.2 hands and we wanted to show off his long fast running legs so we wanted a slightly larger gap between his back legs.

Our second grey gelding wasn’t as developed in his hip area as our first gelding so we helped show off him by taking a step towards his hip along with having him quartered away from the camera. Along with having his legs closer together it helped give him a more collected look and prevented him from looking strung out.

I hope I haven’t overwhelmed or confused you yet… Our last topic to cover in this post is where their head should be looking. Their head should be at a natural balanced level for the horses body size and frame and slightly angled towards the camera. The goal is to slightly see the horses off-side eyelashes and around the front of their face.

I hope this has been a help to everyone. I am still trying to decide what to talk about next so if you have any questions I would love to know. Right now I am thinking about going over your position as the photographer, and a few before and after pictures from horses I have shot showing what I fix post production (mostly taking the people out and the lead rope).

I look forward to hearing from you! Thanks.

Let's Chat!

Have questions?

Give us a call or shoot us a line. We would love to hear from you!