The relationship between a child and their horse is a unique relationship and one which has been created as child and horse bond with one another. Often the horse becomes your child’s best friend, and provides an opportunity for them to learn to care for one another.
Soon your child will want you to take their photograph with their horse. You are confronted with a very large animal and a very small child, presenting an interesting challenge to your photographic skills. How to capture great images becomes a real challenge for most parents.
First: The Magic Of The Camera
When you first look through the viewfinder of the camera you will begin to notice a few things – things which are very important to photography such as framing, lighting and composition immediately make you think about how to use light, how to frame your photograph and how to use surrounding objects better as you compose the image.
It is important to remember that no camera can see what the human eye sees. There are limits on the amount of light the lens can let in, and the field of vision is much smaller than what we see with our eyes. Don’t expect the camera to capture exactly what your eye sees.
But all is not lost. With some information and thought you can create beautiful photographs which capture the essence of both child and the relationship between child and their horse. The most important thing is to just start taking pictures! It doesn’t matter if you know how or not, just take lots and lots of photographs.
Second: ‘Compose’ Your Pictures
Here’s an important fact: whether you are taking a photograph of a barn or your child with their horse, every photograph should say something. It should tell a story, show an emotion or convey a message to the person looking at the photograph.
It isn’t good enough to just point and shoot – you need to look for elements that will work together in your photograph. Look for contrasts: big & small, dim & light, opulent & insipid… you get the idea.
Also we’d like to draw your attention to lines – the shapes made by objects and how they can work together. Remember the following principles:
- Oblique lines imply action or movement
- Converging lines will give your picture a sense of depth
- Curved lines will fill your photographs with a sense of calm
- Repeating elements interrupted by the subject of your photograph will emphasize the latter.
Third: The Rule of Thirds
When you are looking through the lens of your camera, divide the image you see into equal parts using two horizontal and two vertical lines. The subject being photographed should be placed anywhere on the horizontal lines or where they intersect with the vertical lines. The outside corners and the center of the photograph should be avoided when focusing on your subject.
To understand what we are talking about give yourself a little test: take a picture, any picture, look at it for a second and then turn it over. Think about what it was in that photograph that captured your attention immediately. Turn the picture back over so that you are looking at the image once again.
Was your attention drawn to something in the outside corners or right in middle of the picture? Think about where your eyes were drawn to, and use that information when framing your own photographs of your child and their horse.
Fourth: Master Light
Good photography is all about light regardless of the kind of camera you have. In order to make things simpler here are some of the more important things with regard to light and photography:
- Horizontal light is much better than vertical light
- Overcast days will bring out the beautiful skin tone of your child and avoid shadows on their face
- Take pictures outside in early morning or late in the afternoon. This will help your image have a ‘glowing’ quality
- Don’t take pictures in a partially shaded environment
These guidelines are important because of something called the ‘dynamic range’ of your camera. It is the ability of a camera lens to accommodate the differences in brightness that may occur in your photograph. To put things in perspective, consider the following: your eyes have a dynamic range of about 2,000:1 while the average camera only has a dynamic range of 8:1.
And, before we move on, try taking your pictures in an even-light environment. This way the colors in your photograph will relate to each other in shade or hue. Try it, and you can see how this works for your photographs.
Fifth: Know Your Camera
Your camera has many settings – all of them are there to help take the best photograph of your child and their horse possible. Here are some of the more important settings:
In simple terms, ISO refers to the light sensitivity of your camera. The higher the ISO setting, the less light you need to take a photograph. If the barn you are in isn’t well lit, try adjusting the ISO to 800 and work from there.
If you need to use flash, try using the following technique:
You won’t have one of those white background screens that professional photographers use to reflect light; however, you can adjust your flash unit’s head to bounce the flash off of the ceiling or a nearby wall which will fill in the background, eliminate red eye, not startle the horse and eliminate shadows on their faces.
Lens & Zoom
As a final tip for all parents photographing their children on horses, we think the following guidelines can help you produce professional-looking photographs:
- Use your zoom lens to lessen the sense of depth. This will throw the background out of focus and put the emphasis where it counts the most: on your child and their horse.
- Use your zoom lens to capture your child riding in a show ring or down a path with their horse.
- Don’t zoom in on your child so much that you distort their looks.
- A horse is large and your child is small, consider close-ups of your child with their head next to the horse’s head.
- Find somewhere higher to photograph your child and their horse to minimize the large differences in size, and to create a perspective which shows them together without drawing attention to the horse and ignoring your child.
A Bonus: Some Really Good Advice
If you really want great photographs of your child and their horse, there’s one thing you have to do: become acquainted with the horse, too. This means letting the horse get comfortable with you, your camera and the flash unit. Snap some photographs around the horse and your child without focusing directly on them just to get them used to having you around taking photographs.
Remember good photography is all about originality. For example take a picture looking up to your child and their horse from the ground up, or in a tender setting where your child and the horse don’t even know you are there or taking their photograph. This will give the person looking at your photograph a sense of being allowed into the private world of your child and their horse by seeing them interact with one another in a very private way.
About The Author:
Betty Muscott is an accomplished child photographer who has spent her life photographing children. On her website, www.realkidsphotography.com, she provides information on how to take great photographs of your children and their horse, and on the best online photography course for beginners.