Shelby and I created some beautiful photos of her. . . .
But Shelby also has horses and wanted some images with them. I've photographed seniors with animals before, and I love animals, but I'd never shot a horse before. I did a little research on the internet, looking at different images and reading some advice. Horses may spook at flash, I was warned. That took me back to 4th grade and riding on my friend Keri's horses. We'd ride down the road and one of her horses was freaked out by mailboxes. Horses are so powerful! I certainly didn't want to spook it! I also pretty much nixed using a reflector, as those wiggle and wobble and reflect and their unpredictibility also may spook.
So I had a few ideas in mind when I arrived for the shoot, but sometimes as much as you plan, as a photographer you have to be ready for anything. Shelby's horses, beautiful and majestic, were no ordinary horses. They were ex-race horses. 17'2 hands tall horses. So big most people probably have never seen one close in their life. Keri in 4th grade had a horse that was 12 hands tall. That was a tall horse, I thought. But SEVENTEEN HANDS?!?!? That's GIGANTIC!
Well, you need more information to really tell. Shelby is around 5'8''. Notice that her horse's head goes from pretty much waist level to her forehead-ish area. Look down at your waist. Look at your forehead (lol). That's a huge head. And horses look kinda mad or distracted when their ears aren't pointing forward in images. We had a heck of a time getting Shelby's horse to have that desired alert-happy-horse look, especially when there was so much DELICIOUS grass around...and noisy cows that she wasn't used to hearing. . .I am going to take this moment to thank everyone who helped with the horse-aspect of the shoot!!
Okay. Enough about that. There was another prominent challenge to overcome. Full Sun. Or, Full Sun & Dark Horse & Blonde Subject. Sounds like a movie title! If I exposed the shot for Shelby, the horse would be underexposed. If I exposed for the horse, Shelby would be overexposed. Flash would have helped counter the effect of the sun, but I didn't want to spook the horse!
We worked hard and I was able to capture a handful of shots where everything "lined" up--exposure, pose, expression, position, and EARS all RIGHT! I hear "hallelujah" when I see this shot above! lol
Now, I've been reading Annie Leibovitz' new book, At Work. She was in town last week Lecturing at Benaroya Hall and I was lucky enough to get a ticket to the sold out show and early enough to get a signed copy AND sit in the very front (more on this later). Her book includes behind the scenes stories about how a handful of her 40-years-of photoshoots came to be. I couldn't help but feel in good company when it comes to banging out a successful no matter what. In fact, I enjoy and even look forward to the unpredictability. Bring it on...
Oh but lastly, I have to mention the realization I had driving on the way home from this shoot. Race horses are the one type that are probably the MOST used to camera flashes. I had thought about giving it a try and seeing what would happen, but I made a judgment call and decided against it. But knowing what I know now about race horses, it would have been safe enough to give it a try. In the end, this was a shoot to remember and will retell anytime I'm around photographers and we're dishing out our best photoshoot stories.... :) Thanks Shelby!!!