Hello and welcome!
Thank you for choosing Deborah Heynes Photography to capture everlasting memories of you and your horse - I see it as a tremendous privilege to be given such an important role, and I am very much looking forward to meeting you and your horse (or horses, if you are lucky enough to have more than one!)
In this guide, you will find lots of information on how to prepare for your Photoshoot, what to expect from the session itself, and what happens afterwards.
Each Photoshoot is completely bespoke, and unique to you and your horse. My mission is to tell the story of your relationship with your horse, and the very special bond that you share, with timeless images that you will want to treasure for a lifetime.
I am a calm and relaxed individual, whose gentle and respectful approach is perfect for instilling confidence in both humans and horses.
I am also a great problem solver, with a creative vision, who will guide you through the whole process - no stiff and awkward posing, just a fun, relaxed and very memorable experience.
And as an experienced horse owner and trainer myself, I am completely comfortable around horses, and keen to ensure that your horse enjoys the session as much as you do - I can reassure you that we will only work with what your horse is completely happy to offer.
I specialise in capturing informal lifestyle type images and portraits in natural light, with a soft and timeless feel. My style is natural, unobtrusive, and highly observational - very much a ‘reportage’ approach. It is far more about observation rather than orchestration, and I have a quiet and artistic way of seeking out and waiting for the perfect image. This ability and commitment to step back and watch, rather than intrude and be prescriptive, makes my images highly personal documents, completely unique to you, rather than “just another equine photo”.
These sessions are perfect for showcasing your relationship with your horse, and the beauty of your chosen location whether that is open fields, woods, beaches, moors or country lanes. My shoots develop naturally, and can include candid shots of you and your horse, ridden images, more formal portraits and perhaps those with a more fine art feel, as well as at-liberty images of just your horse.
My studio-style black-background portraits are included wherever a suitable building with a doorway can be sourced. And I am always happy to incorporate any ideas that you yourself might have.
So, take some time to read through this guide so that you know what to expect, and can plan your preparations - it really does make a huge difference to the images if you give things some thought beforehand. And if you have any questions, then please do just get in touch and we can chat things through. But please don’t worry about a thing because really your job is to just enjoy the whole experience.............my job is to do the rest.
WHAT TO EXPECT
On the day of the shoot, I will take plenty of time to meet and get to know you, and discuss what you want to get out of the shoot. I will then introduce myself to your horse/s, and take time to let them settle with me around - this is a great time for you to tell me all about them, because I love to hear more about client’s horses and the adventures you have shared! Then we can take a walk around the location and choose the best spots for photos, and take a look at your outfits and decide in which order they will be worn.
My Photoshoots are very relaxed and natural, with no awkward posing, and lots of laughs along the way. We will work through the various locations and outfit options, and experiment with images, letting the whole thing grow very organically. I will take many images, chatting to you as we go along, so that very quickly you will probably forget that there is a camera there at all!
And please don’t worry if your horse misbehaves - it’s completely normal! I have various methods to keep them happy and relaxed, and encourage them to pose for the camera (and to be honest, if horses misbehave slightly, that is often when the best images are created!)
After the session, processing and editing normally takes up to 2 weeks. As all my shoot packages are all-inclusive you don’t need to do anything else - your images will be sent out to you via Royal Mail - all you have to do is wait for them to arrive, and then just enjoy them!
All my high resolution images come with a Personal Printing and Copying Licence, so that you can use them to create beautiful prints or bespoke pieces of wall-art. However, I also offer a wide range of professionally produced products which are high quality and guaranteed to last for years - you will find a list of these included at the back of this guide.
PLANNING AND PREPARATION
Many clients prefer to have their photoshoot actually based at home on the yard, where their horse feels most comfortable. However, if there is a special location which you would like to use then please do contact me beforehand to discuss whether it is suitable for the shoot. It is always particularly exciting to go out "on location" to perhaps the beach or the moors, and the resulting images are always that extra bit special.
Often, people worry that their yard isn't pretty enough for a photoshoot, but with a fresh and creative eye you will be surprised how even the most humble of locations can be made to look special in your images. And failing that, we can just work with a simple neutral background of a green hedge or field - after all, it is you and your horse that are the real stars of the show!
Once the location is finalised, give some thought as to where you would like the photographs taken - especially give some consideration to the backgrounds (hedges, fields, and tree-lined lanes all work well). But if you are unsure as to what will work best, then don't worry because will be able to go through it all on the actual day.
If you want to include some Black Background Portraits in your session, then we will need a doorway to a dark stable or barn - indoor schools work particularly well. These studio-style portraits are created mainly in-camera, using just natural light falling upon the subject to create a darker background. Just make sure that you have a bit of a tidy-up before the shoot to avoid unnecessary clutter. If you have any doubts about the suitability of the location that will be available, please do get in touch with me beforehand to discuss it.
Prepare your horse as if you were taking them to a show - groomed nicely, with perhaps with a little show sheen and hoof oil applied. You want your horse to look at his/her best, but still look like him/ herself.
Brush the mane and tail and leave loose, or if you prefer you could plait him/her. Don't forget to spray fly spray all over if your shoot is taking place in fly-season. And you will definitely need to have some wet-wipes on hand during the shoot to remove any any horse slobber or snot!
A leather halter or bridle, or a cavesson looks much nicer than a nylon head-collar. Be particularly careful about lead-ropes - frayed and tatty ones really can spoil your images, so it might be better to buy or borrow a new one especially for your shoot. If you are riding your horse, or want some photos of him/her tacked up, then please make sure you tack is clean - dirty tack really will spoil your images!
If your shoot is in winter and your horse is clipped, please try to clip at least a week before your shoot to allow the coat to settle, and the natural oils to come back through. Similarly, pull manes and tails at least a week before to allow the hair to relax and fall naturally again.
I always suggest bathing your horse the day before your shoot, and then rugging and stabling overnight - rugging helps the coat to lie flat, so is useful even in summer. If you have to bathe your horse on the actual day of the shoot, please make sure that they are fully dry and preferably brushed again before I arrive - a soggy coat really doesn't look good on a photo!
Horses react to being photographed at a shoot in many different ways, and as with all horsemanship a lot of it depends on how you yourself react, so try to ensure that you stay as calm and relaxed as possible before and during your shoot. However, if your horse has a tendency to get a little excited then it may be best to make sure that they have been lunged/ridden just beforehand, so as to take the edge of things. A relaxed but interested horse is the easiest to work with, and also allows us to get really creative, but don’t worry about your horse mis-behaving because as an experienced horse owner and trainer I have probably seen it all before - and to be honest, this is when probably some of the best images are captured!
It is really helpful to have an extra pair of hands to help with your horse during the shoot, so see if you can get a horsey friend to be there on the day - it makes everything much more enjoyable too!
3. What should I wear?
This is very much YOUR shoot, so the choice of what to wear really depends on your own personal taste.
Most importantly, wear clothes that you feel comfortable in and that make you feel good! Of course, this is also perhaps your one great opportunity to really go for it, so if you want to get more creative, then I am definitely up for that too! The secret is to make sure that whatever you wear is clean and tidy, fits you well, and is comfortable.
Think colour! Bright colours stand out and create wonderful images.
Or alternatively you could go for a complete tonal look - soft greys or beige can look brilliant if carried throughout the outfit. It is generally a good idea to consider the colour of your horse as a starting point - what colours do you know look good against his/her? (its’s a little like choosing Matchy-matchy!)
My shoot packages include unlimited outfit changes, but as a general rule I would suggest choosing 3 different looks: A Horsey Outfit (Jods/Jeans and a Shirt/Polo Shirt, with Yard boots), a Smart/Casual Outfit (think going out to lunch eg jeans/skirt and a blouse), and perhaps something Super-Glam (ball-gown, cocktail dress).
Select something that you feel really good in to start with, which will give you confidence, and enable us to take a range of different photos. Then bring along something different to change into that creates a different style/feel. If you are not particularly fashion-conscious, then just go for a change of top in a different style/colour - it is surprising how it can bring a new dynamic to your images.
Most people opt for formal riding clothes (especially if they want to be photographed riding), or as an alternative a button-down top and dark jeans, or a flowery top and an a-line skirt. Simple light coloured clothing works well on top, especially if you are likely to want black and white versions of your images. A jacket always looks classy. Big floppy sweaters can look fabulous - soft and luxurious. Just be careful about choosing black tops, as they really show every stray hair (especially if you have a light coloured horse).
If your arms are nice and toned, you could opt for sleeveless, but otherwise I would suggest you have short or long sleeves.
Long boots always look lovely, whether they are worn with formal riding clothes, or jeans, or even skirts. Ankle boots are a nice alternative. If you have opted for an evening dress then you may want to wear high heels, but if you decide that practicality and safety are more important and you would prefer to stick to more solid boots, we can always cleverly hide them under your dress to maintain that glamorous illusion.
Don't forget accessories - they can completely change the feel of an image. A beautiful scarf can add a pop of colour and style, hats are great fun, and belts and gloves can really complete a look. And if the wind is blowing, a long silk scarf blowing out behind you can look fabulous (just make sure that your horse is happy with flapping material first!)
In winter a luxurious wrap can look incredibly stylish.
Enjoy doing your hair, and I would also suggest that you wear a little make-up, but make sure that you are recognisable as yourself! Nail-polish is pretty for those close-up shots of your hands resting lovingly
on your horse (and they can disguise nails that might become a little dirty when touching your horse).
Don't forget to bring a small mirror so that you can give yourself a final check before going in front of the camera. This is where roping in a friend to help can be a great idea, making the whole experience much more enjoyable and fun!
For gentlemen, then riding clothes look great, or you could opt for something a little more casual such as jeans/chinos and a button-down shirt. Jackets/Gilets always look classy, and if you want to look really suave then why not go for the James Bond look of a Dinner Jacket/Tuxedo.
Finally, just a word on safety. We are of course dealing with animals that can be unpredictable, especially when encountering metres of flapping fabric so please dress according to your horses’ temperament and experience - you know your horse best, and I will always be guided by you. If you want to be photographed in a long dress, then it is a good idea to practice with your horse beforehand and try to get him/her de-sensitised. And if you are planning on sitting astride your horse, it is a good tip to wear breeches underneath your long dress, to make the whole experience a little more comfortable!
Be Comfortable - Be Creative - But be You!
THE DAY OF YOUR PHOTOSHOOT
I rarely arrive at a shoot with a premeditated plan. I always aim to get to the shoot location about 30 minutes before we actually start shooting, to scout all around and get my thoughts for the shoot into some sort of rough plan. Then, I will want to talk to you about your outfits with the location in mind so we know what outfit to shoot where, and in what order.
We can then start with a very rough plan for the shoot, but nothing is set in stone. If I spot a better location or better light mid-shoot, I am quick to adjust as we go so that the whole session tends to grow organically in a very relaxed manner, making it a special and enjoyable experience for us all.
Before we start, we can have a chat about any poses or images that you might to particularly want to capture, but in all honesty we are a little at the mercy of your horse and what they are happy to offer. In all my years around horses, I have learnt that it is much better to work with the horse rather than against them, so the shoot will develop naturally and we will follow your horse’s lead.
Now, you may be a complete natural in front of the camera, or quite experienced in having you photograph taken, but I have to confess that I am neither so I completely understand if you are little nervous - here are my top tips for what to do when that camera is pointing at you and your horse...........
1. Allow your horse freedom to move
As we know, horses are prey animals and tend to get more anxious and stressed when confined or restricted......which doesn’t make for beautiful photographs. So, make sure that your lead rope or reins are nice and loose, and if your horse starts to get a bit fidgety just allow them to move in a circle before encouraging them back to the standing position.
Remember that my shutter finger is lightning fast, and it can take less than a second to capture a beautiful image. And to be honest, these moments tend to be when the more natural and candid images are created, showing that very special bond between the two of you.
So just give your horse the space to feel secure.
2. Interact with your horse naturally
I always encourage my clients to try to interact naturally with their horses whilst the camera is pointing at them - that way you tend to forget me and the fact that you are being photographed, and the resulting images are again very natural and unposed.
Your photoshoot then becomes a special and quiet time to spend with your horse, rather than something strange and stressful that you have dragged him into. Concentrate on your horse, and connect with him - ground yourself in the present. You will then relax into the session, your energy and anxiety levels will reduce, and your horse will respond accordingly.
Think about what your horse means to you, and let that emotion travel into your eyes. Your eyes convey emotion in a very subtle yet strong way, and lead to a really genuine and heart-felt smile that plays across your lips, and will look very natural in your images.
Of course, there will always be some horses that fidget, and just can’t settle. In these cases I have found that it is best to try not to get frustrated, and just take your horse for a little walk - and these moments make for lovely natural images of you moving away from me, and coming back.
The golden rule is that no matter what your horse does try not to react in a negative way - just pretend that whatever he is doing is the best thing he could do, and look positive and happy (these are often the best images anyway to be honest!)
3. Have a friend to help
Photoshoots are definitely much more fun if you have a friend or family member on hand to help you plan and get ready, and then get involved on the day. They will help you to relax and get more out of the session as they can be an extra pair of hands to hold your horse, help with hair and make- up, check your outfit and carry bits and pieces, and generally help you to see the funny side of the situation (and believe me, this may well happen a lot!)
But perhaps most importantly, they are absolutely worth their weight in gold when it comes to getting your horse’s ears forward! Honestly, I wish I could video people and the antics they get up to behind me to capture the attention of horses, and make their friends laugh!
4. A little word about posing
You have probably chosen me above other equine photographers for your photoshoot because you like the natural style of my images, and the fact that I work in a quiet and unobtrusive way allowing things to unfold before me rather than trying to orchestrate too much. My images are all about the connection between your and your horse, which is why they tend to a more ‘lifestyle’ approach rather than very formal portraiture.
These images will be captured during your natural interactions with your horse, and the session will develop very organically with a natural flow. The aim is for the session to be relaxed and informal, with lots of laughs along the way, and an enjoyable and memorable experience for all concerned (especially your horse!)
Although I tend not to do much formal posing, that is not to say that I do not have an idea in my head of the type images that I am trying to create.
What I do first is to get you and your horse in a position that I like, and then try to create as much variety there as possible before your horse starts moving around. I will gently guide you through the whole process, and this may include giving instructions when necessary like “put your hands under his chin, now on his neck, look at me, smile at his muzzle, laugh right here, look over your left shoulder, serious face...etc”.
Very quickly, I am then able to get lots of different images, but the key here is that I don’t follow a formula. I want to look for what flatters you and your horse the most. I am looking for the angles and poses that make you both look your very best. And that is different for everyone! Some horses should hold their neck low, some level, and some higher. Some people look amazing straight toward the camera, and others rock a 45-degree angle.
I particularly love it when my ladies look dainty, feminine and completely trusting. This can be bareback, sitting by your horse’s feet, or standing directly in front of them. Strong connections can produce very powerful imagery.
The most important thing for you to remember is to try to stay relaxed, and not to tense up - a bit like when you are riding. So use what you have learnt when riding to make yourself look at your best.
Stand tall, as if you had a bungee coming out of your head, and try not to slouch. With your arms and hands, think of graceful ballet fingers, or dance arm-ography (after all, we’ve all seen Strictly, haven’t we) and then try to take that graceful feeling along and into the rest of your body.
But please DO NOT WORRY!
I am there to gently guide you through the session, with happiness and laughter. Together we will create very special memories, and a collection of images that you can treasure for a lifetime!
Trust me..........I am your personal Photographer, and I am here to become your very own story- teller.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1.I want to have some bareback mounted shots - would that be ok?
I aways evaluate every session for safety issues, and if I have any concerns then I will decline to take certain images (bareback or otherwise). Please note that clients who wish to ride mounted without a hard hat do so entirely at their own risk.
2. I have more than 1 horse, is that ok?
Absolutely! My shoot packages are suitable for people who have just one horse, or who are lucky enough to have more than one - there are no restrictions on numbers, as long as they belong to the same person. But please do just bear in mind that it is helpful for me to know before the shoot how many horses I will be working with so that I can plan the session - and that the more horses I have to photograph, the less time I can spend on each one.
3. Can I involve my other pets?
Yes of course! I am very happy to photograph other pets, but it is helpful if you can let me know in advance - and as with additional horses, please bear in mind that the more additional pets that are included, the less time I will be able to spend photographing each one.
4. Can I involve additional family members or friends?
Additional immediate family members and friends are very welcome to get involved but again it is useful for me to know beforehand so that I can plan the session.
5. What happens if the weather is bad?
I always keep an eye on the weather forecast and will be in touch just before your shoot to double- check that we are ok to go ahead. Showers can be worked around reasonably easily, but constant rain is more of a problem and due to the uncertainty and likely distance of travel it is generally advisable to re-schedule to a mutually convenient alternative day. I do currently own a 4x4 so if it is snowing, then providing it is safe to travel, we can probably still go ahead with the shoot.
6. What editing will you do?
I began my photography career well before the days of digital images and editing, so I am rather old-school in my approach and prefer to get things right in-camera rather than trying to manipulate things too much in the editing suite. Of course, this still means that each image will be individually processed and edited to reflect my personal style, and to ensure continuity of style across your album.
I have built my reputation on creating images that are authentic, and feel strongly that I want my images to reflect reality. Therefore, as a rule I only edit out something that is temporary - eg I will happily remove a spot, or a fly, or a scrape or patch on a horse. I do not edit out head collars, but may be able to remove a lead rope in a Black Background Portrait in order to create the clean stylised look I am trying to achieve.
7. Do you provide images in colour and black and white?
When I work my way through your images, and select the ones to appear in your final collection,
I try to present images in the way that I feel they will look best - some images lend themselves to a black and white image, whilst some do not. If however, you are particularly keen to have an image
in an option that hasn’t been presented, then please do ask and I will do my best to meet your requirements.
8. How do I view my images?
If you have chosen my Equestrian Lifestyle Photoshoot, then your final collection of images will be uploaded to a Private Online Viewing Gallery, and you will be sent a link and password via email to enable your access. The password is unique to you, but you are more than welcome to share it with any family or friends that you would like to be able to view your gallery.
If you have chosen one of my all-inclusive packages, then your images will be downloaded onto a USB and sent straight out to you via Royal Mail. Then all you need to do is plug your USB into your computer, and you will be able to view your images in the comfort and privacy of your own home. If you have a TV with a suitable USB slot then you should also be able to view them in that way too - great if you want to share a viewing with family or friends!
9. When will I get to see my photos?
I aim to complete the processing and editing of your final collection of images, and uploading to your online gallery within 7 days from your photoshoot, although in busier times of year this may take a few days longer. With the All-Inclusive Packages you should receive your digital images through the post within 2-3 weeks of your shoot date.
10. Can I buy additional products such as wall-art?
I work with award-winning UK-based Professional Photography Labs to bring you a range of larger prints and products, and all have been selected for their high quality - you will find a list of these products at the back of this guide. If there is something that you would particularly like that you cannot see in this list, then please do just get in touch and I will try to arrange a bespoke quote.
11. Can I see product samples?
Yes, I keep samples of almost all of my products so that you can see and feel the quality of the finished products first hand - I will bring these samples along to your photoshoot session.
12. When will my finished products arrive?
The time scale from ordering to delivery is dependent upon the product you have chosen, and the supplier/manufacturer - I should be able to give you an idea of delivery times when you place your order.
13. Can organise my own prints/wall-art?
My high resolution digital images all come with a Personal Printing and Copying Licence, so that you are free to organise your own prints/products from whichever company you choose. There are now many such companies providing budget products, but please do bear in mind that the quality of these will not be as high as from the Professional Labs with which I work