Handlers: Choose your best handler if you are presenting a horse for sale or stud. I've watched horses run rampant with owners: sometimes a handler other than
Mommy is the best for all concerned. Besides myself and the handler, I
require a third person on the ground to get ears up, wipe slobber from
horse's mouths and touch up fly spray as needed. If you don't have
someone available for the day of the shoot, I can often bring an
assistant with me, but there will be a surcharge.
A group of horses: It's best to have one handler per horse,
regardless of how many of the handlers will be included in the photo.
Riding photos: I welcome having your trainer or other eyes on the
ground to assist you in riding your best. While I can give some
direction (i.e. "let his nose out a bit," or "bring the haunches more in
the half pass"), I would rather concentrate on directing the shoot. But
just one voice, please! Too many people calling instructions is
Liberty sessions: I will almost always need a team. Three or four
"whips" are needed to keep horses moving around the paddock. One will
be assigned to keep the horse an appropriate distance from my camera. I
use long lenses, which means if they come too close I just can't get the
photos I'm after.
It goes without saying that a clean, tidy horse photographs more
beautifully than one with grass stains.
Adult horses: Make sure that
anything you normally trim, such as ears and bridle tracks, are
recently done. I like whiskers on horses.... Just saying. A little bit
of baby oil around the ears and muzzle can be a nice touch, but don't overdo
it unless your breed is traditionally presented with lots of "makeup".
Baby horses: Age appropriate, anything from just turn them out and let them be babies to standing them up near their mama with their halter on. Babies can shape-change from "he's perfect" to "what IS that?" back to ,"that's my future superstar," in the blink of an eye. I'll always do my best to minimize the ugly duckling phase if that's where we are when I get there.
Portraits and stand ups: I prefer to see the horse presented in a
clean, well-fitted snaffle bridle. The type of noseband is totally up
to you, but if your only noseband has a holder for a flash attachment,
complete the picture with the flash strap, otherwise you'll be wishing
the little loop could just disappear when you see the photos. Some folks
prefer to present their horses with a chain shank replacing the reins,
but please make sure the shank is long enough for safe handling and that the chain is
Under Saddle: Of course everything is spotless, because that's how you roll! Whether you boot or wrap is completely up to you. If you wrap or boot, black or white for wraps, and black, white or neutral for boots usually makes for the most elegant photos, but if you've got an amazing outfit of matching saddle pad and wraps for your horse, I'm all over it!
Braids: Your choice! If you would like to photograph both braided and loose, which I often do for Friesians and Iberian horses, then we start with braids and then let them down. Button braids or hunter braids kink the mane hair more, so we'll have to schedule enough time to undo them, wet the mane and dry the mane between braided and loose photos.
These are MY personal preferences: if you wish to have your horse
photographed in a double bridle, that is perfectly fine too. If you
wish to have your horse photographed in a halter, a well-maintained
leather one is the only appropriate head gear! One possible exception:
children and ponies who have their own strong opinions, about, for
instance, Things That Are Pink.
For under saddle or in hand photos, the humans should be as well groomed as the horses.
Riding photos: You are welcome to dress in show attire or casual
schooling attire for riding photos. Helmets are mandatory for action or over fences photos, and for any mounted photos that will be used for promotion or publication.
Portraits: I welcome as many costume changes as time - and your
horse's patience - allows. Choose the clothing that makes you feel
beautiful, but please avoid large busy patterns and obvious logos
(unless it's your sponsor or barn name!). If you're going to wear your Manolo Blahniks for photos, please be sure you've got a handler to manage the horse for you on the way to and from the photo location. For group or family photos, it looks
fabulous if everyone is wearing either the same color or a similar style
of clothing.... Best to stick to solid colors for group photos, unless
the theme is, for instance, "plaids" or "stripes".
You are welcome to chronicle the photo session with video or even the
occasional phone photo, but I require there be no other photographers
shooting the subjects during our photo session.
For the question, "Can't you just Photoshop that out?" the answer is:
usually. But retouching takes time, and do you really want to pay my
hourly rate of $100.00 per hour to Photoshop something that could have
been fixed for free in five minutes?
However! There are things that I retouch as a matter of course:
humans: flyaway hair, blemishes, the dreaded "helmet chin". Wrinkles
will be softened unless you request they be left in all their
On horses: spittle, temporary blemishes such as cuts
or rubs, a turned ear or a closed eye if necessary. I will not change a
horse's conformation or way of going, nor do I allow that sort of
adjustment to be made by anyone else after the fact.
Retouching that CAN be done for an additional fee: Removing handler, removing or moving shank or reins; removing the flash loop on noseband; adding/removing logos to saddle pads or clothing; removal or blurring of background distractions; artistic or painterly digital treatments.
Backgrounds can be replaced: If after all your searching, a suitable
perfect background could not be found, I can always create your very own
world for you and your horses. And of COURSE I can add a black or white background, or something even more elegant.
Please remember that only Terri Miller has permission to use Terri Miller photos as reference for a painting.
Commissioned Paintings information can be found here.