Photography Friday: White Background Portraits

There’s a bit of a new craze in the Equine photography world- and that’s a twist on the ‘traditional’ black background portraits- white backgrounds. Now these are nothing new in terms of portraiture, in fact I’ve been a long time fan of Sharon Montrose‘s studio portraits of wildlife and baby animals (seriously- so cute!). But your average equine photographer doesn’t have a studio backdrop large enough to support a subject as large as a horse. And a lot of us, like myself, use only natural light. So while the concept of the white background is similar, a much different technical approach is used.

In some ways, shooting white background images allows for a lot more flexibility than black background. Whereas in a typical shoot I am constantly searching for soft/diffused light or shade, for these images wide open light is best. I allow myself to slightly overexpose the image, and try and fill the frame with sky behind my subject. This generally makes for a very bright, if not white, background, and then edits in post-processing ‘clip the whites’ in the rest of the background- and voila! White background.
I’m still experimenting with poses (I really love the above one, creating depth within the subject sitting on a completely flat background) and how to look at different colors of horses against the white background.

What do you guys think? Are you into this new trend? Prefer black background? Or not a fan of white/black background at all, and prefer natural-environment/outdoor portraits?

Photography Friday: Our own family portraits

 Last September, the husband and I decided that this was the year we were going to take on a new adult adventure- Christmas cards! But first we needed some updated family photos, since our last professional photos were from our wedding, and of course didn’t feature any of our furbabies. I hired a fellow equestrian photographer, Southern Horse Photography, to make our portraits, and I’m finally getting around to sharing the results with you!


I also took this opportunity to get a portrait done for branding my photography business- so here’s me with my trusty D750!Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Photography Friday: Dyland and Rizzo

You may not know Dylan Phillips personally, but if you’re a horse person on the internet, there’s a decent chance you’ve seen her before. Almost half a million have seen her viral video, after all:

Dylan and Rusty, a few years later ❤

Now a little bit older, Dylan is one heck of a rider and just waiting until her 14th birthday before she can rock and roll around Prelim with her new partner, Rizzo. Rizzo, aka Fernhill Fierce, is an Irish Sport Horse mare and the new love of Dylan’s life. We took these images to memorialize the start of this beautiful partnership, and I can’t wait to see what these two accomplish together!

Have a great weekend all! And please, if you have a minute, check in with yesterday’s poll on blog content!

Photography Friday: Sofia and Sunny

I’ve done so many shoots recently that I honestly can’t remember which I’ve shared and which I haven’t! So let me share one of my more recent sessions- this is Sofia and Sunny, a Welsh cross mare that is just beyond precious. The sweet relationship that these two have was just adorable- Sunny is nothing like your typical pony mare, and Sofia just showered her with love and kisses- all I had to do was press the shutter button!

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Photography Friday: Maddy and Starski

The blog has been light recently because I am running at light speed doing other things- including TONS of photography! After getting my 85mm lens calibrated and knowing that I was going to this stunning location, I was very excited about this shoot, and there was nothing to disappoint! Seriously though, how cute are those boys and how stunning is Maddy and her ponies?!

Wishing everyone a safe and happy weekend- stay dry Southern friends!

Photography Friday: OSSbourne

Ossbourne is a special pony with more accolades than horses twice his size. He’s competed in both Europe and the States, trained up thru PSG, and has given no less than 7 riders the opportunity to earn their Bronze medals! Such a unique guy deserved a send off with all the bells and whistles, and I was so happy to be able to capture these sweet moments between Kim and OSS before he headed north to be another little girl’s unicorn!

We will miss you around the barn OSS, and wishing you many happy trails in your new home! Happy Friday everyone!

Photography Friday: Frog Pond Farm

When I received a phone call from Helen, she mentioned that she wanted some photos with her heart horse, Othello. Her sweet partner had been dealing with multiple health issues, and it was important to capture their relationship in images while he was still with her. I was touched beyond belief to hear her speak, and absolutely agreed to come to her farm. The photos we took of Othello and the other occupants of the farm are some of my favorites of late, and I feel so blessed to have been a part of this special day. Othello has now crossed the rainbow bridge, but he will forever live on in these images and in the hearts of the ones who loved him.

Give your ponies a hug, everyone, and happy Friday.

Photography Friday: Nicole and Logan

When fellow home-town equestrian, Nicole, reached out to me about doing her engagement portraits with her fiance Logan, I was all in. Two gorgeous horses, a simply stunning summer evening (75* in June- inconceivable!) , and just the most glorious light you have ever seen- this is the romantic session any photographer could wish for!

Logan proposed at the Carolina Horse Park, and its obvious that he is a wonderful horse husband in the making. The two are working on building their dream farm all while planning their wedding, which will be Rolex weekend! I’m so thrilled to have been a part of this special moment for these two, and can’t wait to see all the amazing things they will accomplish together!

Happy Friday all!

Photography Friday: Black background Mania

In the last couple weeks my photoshop fingers have been running at full speed trying to keep up with the number of photography requests I have had. Not that I am complaining one bit- I LOVE getting to show these owners how stunning their horses are through these portraits.

Having so many at once has also allowed me to refine my editing style, which (at the risk of sounding snobby) I’ve come to think of as slightly more ‘fine art’ than my previous edits. With more horses to shoot next week, I’m definitely excited to build some momentum around my photography and hopefully keep that ball rolling!

Happy Friday all, and enjoy your weekend!

Life Behind the Lens

Mikaylah asked last week how I got into photography, and I can’t believe I’ve never mentioned it!

Rolex XC shot

D40 + kit lens at work with horse photos [Rolex 2012]

My introduction to photography started around horses (you’re shocked, I know), helping my mother take conformation photos for sales ads- back in the day when everything was film and posting an ad meant paperclipping a printed photo to a piece of paper with the hand-written text on it, and mailing it off to Stablemates. My parents got me my first camera when I was around 10 years old, one of those cheap wind-up film cameras that only operated in Auto mode- perfect for my bounding around the farm and clicking shots off of every creature in sight.

One of my first shoots with the Nikon D40 [Nikon D40, fall 2007]

When I got to college, and transferred from an Animal Science degree to the College of Design, of course I signed up for a photography studio (a studio being a 4.5 credit hour course – and basically the thing that ruled your life as a design student). I had this wonderfully snarky older gentleman as our professor, who’s favorite thing to ask us was “And what were you thinking when you took that?” in regards to each one of our [admittedly mostly] terrible photos. My parents kindly bought me a Nikon D40 so I could take the course- an entry/beginner level DSR camera that came with a couple cheap kit lenses. Between this and my dad’s borrowed film camera, I started learning how to shoot in manual mode, learned how to process and dodge/burn photos in the dank, musty, hot dark room on campus, and in general become obsessed with the instant joy of photography.

And truthfully, I really couldn’t tell you why I took this photo. It was that bad, but at least I learned how to develop in a dark room I guess? [Film photo, fall 2007]

In the beginning, my work was basically awful. I lacked inspiration, what I thought was classy and on-trend was cheesy or tacky. But the more comfortable I felt with the camera as a tool, the more I felt I could compose my shot and create an attractive image. So I took another photography studio, cementing myself as an Art + Design major with a concentration in Photography. Charles started expecting me to lead critiques of other students, and from his snarky feedback I started to improve. My eye developed, I could own my own weaknesses and seek to improve them. I was good enough (emphasis on the ‘enough’) to be recommended as a student photographer for a wedding, which is decidedly my first and last wedding- while the couple was happy, the stress of capturing that moment is more than I wanted to get into.

In my second semester of photography coursework, things started coming together a bit better. [Nikon D40, spring 2008]

In 2010 I made my first real investment into my gear with the purchase of a 50mm f1.8 prime lens. My old learner-D40 was still the only camera I owned, but I was excited to see how this $150 addition would change my abilities. It is this lens that now leads me to believe that the lens is where your investment should be if you are going to spend money on kit.

Swan at Stourhead, England. [Nikon D40, 50mm f1.8, 2011]

From there it’s been learning by doing. Each shoot I feel like I learn a little bit more, get a little bit better. I upgraded my camera 2 years ago from that workhorse D40 to a D7000, and this year made the jump to full frame so I could eek more out of my golden-hour portrait sessions. I also invested in a few more lenses, including an 85mm prime that is now my main lens, though my trusty nifty-fifty still comes with me to every single shoot.

Nikon D7000, 2015, wide angle lens

One of my last shoots with the D7000 as my primary body [D7000, 50mm 1.8, winter 2016]

And so here we are, almost 10 years after I first started applying myself to Photography. Sometimes it’s easy to get lost comparing yourself to others, but the journey has been oh so fun and I am as much in love with the hobby now as I was as a kid.

First time using the D750

First “pro” shoot with the D750

latest shoot [D750, 85mm f1/8]