I cannot believe how quickly these last couple of months have gone by. I've been busy with so many things but especially preparing for my first series of summer fairs around Devon and making sure that I had everything to make my stand look great! I'm posting two months together so I'm all officially caught up! I love both of these portraits for the settings, the outfits and the girls being lost in their own little world. The light also plays a big part in the overall mood of the photos - magic at sunset with the little violinist and an overcast day making the colour of the daffodils at Dunsford pop.
Are you thinking of booking a photographer to capture the bond between yourself and your horse or pony? Or maybe the special relationship your child has with their pony?
In this blog, I walk you through the process of a photo session with your horse, and answer any questions you may have about what’s involved. And hopefully leave you really excited about getting some professional photos taken of you and your horse!
This is probably the first aspect to consider in booking a pony session. Will it be at your home, at a riding stable or are you happy to travel? The open moors are a gorgeous backdrop for horse or pony sessions for instance. It may very well depend on the age of the rider too and the temperament of the horse. As the horse owner you will have a very good idea of what would work best.
A great location would typically have two or three options in terms of where we could take the horse to be photographed to create a gallery full of variety. Ideally, I would be looking for a couple of options that may include: the barn/yard, fields (preferably with long grass) and an area of open woodland or tree-lined field. Useful ‘props’ such as log piles, gates, walls, stable yard, old chairs/benches/tractors/trailers are all great to have within easy access.
Preparation is key to the final look of your photographs; I can’t stress this enough! Prepare your horse and know what time of day would be best to book your session - usually early morning or before sunset works best for photography. Wash your horse or pony until they are sparkling, especially if they are white! I would generally not recommend platted as natural looks much nicer in horse portraits, unless you specifically want this look. Have a black or brown leather bridal, head collar and lead ropes available – a bright purple rope is really going to be distracting your portrait! And if you wish for the saddle to be include in the pictures, it’s a good idea to make sure it’s also clean and polished.
I will walk you through clothing before the day of your session. I would recommend having a couple of outfits ready. One outfit could perhaps be your riding gear or a more casual riding look with boots, and another more relaxed outfit in a colour similar to your horse/pony. For example, for little girls with a white pony, a white lacey dress looks gorgeous, or for brown ponies, more creams/beiges would look great. For boys, a pair of smart/casual trousers or shorts with a shirt and casual waistcoat and leather shoes or wellies. Accessories look amazing too, such as hats, scarves and gloves.
I understand that this may be your first photo session, so I make sure that you know the plan on the day and I will talk you through the plan for every location and give you lots of directing so you know what both you and the horse should be doing. It’s always good to have a few nuts handy to encourage a stubborn horse or to tell them they are doing a great job! But most importantly, enjoy this moment where you and your horse can spent some downtime together.
This is a big one! As the horse owner you are in control of the shoot at all times. The majority of the photo session will take place with the rider on the ground, with a big emphasis placed on the bond between horse and rider. But most people do want those precious riding photos. This is entirely your decision, I will not ask you to do anything you are not comfortable with. Bareback riding does lend a lovely natural feel to photographs, however, if your horse is not used to being ridden bareback, I would recommend having the saddle ready. With young children, mum or dad are always within arm’s reach and can hold the lead rope (which can easily be removed during editing).
The featured shoot in this blog was taken at Cadover Bridge on Dartmoor. The evening light at this location is just incredible. The journey for this family was not a problem as their pony, Frosty, was used to traveling for shows. Only two of the daughters were riders, so we started the session with some photographs of all the girls together and separately to include a sibling photo session as well as a pony session. We all had a lovely time, and I think everyone including Frosty enjoyed the little adventure!
If you have any questions I may not have covered or you would like to book your own pony session, please write to me at email@example.com. I look forward to hearing from you!
If you have not yet been to see the daffodils at Dunsford woods, it is well worth the trip! It is such a beautiful spot along the river, and the daffodils sit in a lovely clearing basking in the sun with a couple of benches to sit on. It's idyllic and ideal for a picnic. I've taken my boys on walks along the river several times where they've enjoy paddling from the little beaches or jumping in frozen puddles in the winter. But until this year, I have always missed the daffodils because I've always got my timings wrong!
So this year, my lovely babysitter who lives out that way had been keeping a watchful eye over the daffodils for me. And I had Maddie (a dear friend's daughter) ready with her outfit. The second week of April I got the go ahead and off we went. To be honest, we were probably a bit late in the end. I reckon the daffodils may have been at their peak around the 7th April this year, which may be a bit later than usual after all the cold weather and the snow.
Maddie had such a lovely time and she looked so pretty in the middle of the daffodils. I brought along a shop-bought bunch (or two) for her to hold and a sweet watering can for her to fill up with daffodils I had hidden all around. She loved searching for them! We all had so much fun taking these daffodil photos.
Gorgeous vintage-style clothing (bonnet and bloomers) by Runaround Retro.
We were very respectful of the daffodils - we didn't pick any or trample them! If you would like to visit the daffodils in Dunsford wood you can follow the link to the Devon Wildlife Trust page:
Posting March's photo in May - looks like I have a little catching up to do!
“Childhood last a lifetime.”
I heard someone say this on a radio show a couple of months ago. It’s so true. The things you love, your outlook on life, your character – so many choices one makes in life are based on your childhood. Although I must admit, I’d rather be writing a blog about my latest photo shoot in a gorgeous location in Devon, or about photography tips for photographing your own children, I found this journey back into my childhood and how it has influenced my artistic choices over the years fascinating. So, for once, dare I say, this story begins with me!
I’ve been thinking about this topic for a long time now, trying to pinpoint exactly which influences from my childhood have helped to shape the photographer that I am today. And as it happens, I’ve also been following an online workshop which asks questions about my childhood imagination. So, here goes:
1. How do you see childhood imagination?
I see it as a world of great freedom, without boundaries, free to discover and to be oneself. It’s a world devoid of rules but very much based on kindness and respect. I’m still no good at following rules!
2. What was your childhood imaginative play like?
I do struggle a little bit to remember my imaginative play. I do remember playing with my teddy bears and sewing clothes for them. But most of all I remember being outside. At heart I was an intrepid explorer, I was Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn off on my next adventure. My neighbourhood felt like the whole world when I was little. I grew up in the depths of the French countryside where I liked to explore as far as my legs (or my bike) would take me. I loved to bird watch, deer stalk, fish, swim in the rivers and ‘borrow’ fruit from nearby orchards. Once night fell, I would curl up in a cosy armchair to immerse myself in the amazing far-away discoveries made by Sir David Attenborough and Jacques Cousteau. I dreamt of travelling the world and seeing all these wonderful places and creatures.
3. Has your childhood affected our photography?
Without a doubt! I love to take photographs outdoors, on location – especially on Dartmoor, it’s such a beautiful place. I find there is something so liberating about a child being outdoors, where I feel I can capture genuine and relaxed portrait. On a cold, wet and windy winter’s day, I do wish I had a studio space, but generally I am very happy to embrace the elements.
Animals often creep into my photography too. I love the relationship children have with animals. I grew up surrounded by animals and they were a huge part of my childhood. I used to believe they were my best friends and that we could understand each other.
There wasn’t a huge amount of entertainment where I grew up in the countryside, so I spent a lot of time making things, painting and taking far too many photographs on a film camera (sorry mummy!). I still have a very creative mind and I’m very much at my happiest when collaborating on a photoshoot with other creatives. It really is a lot of fun!
4. As a child, what did you dream of becoming?
A wildlife filmmaker.
5. Visually paint your childhood like an artist would do with a paintbrush.
It’s very rural. Midday stillness on a hot, sunny day. Fields of sunflowers and drying hay. Ripening tomatoes. Cats sleeping in the shade of trees. (And all the associated sounds and smells, which unfortunately one cannot paint.)
6. Who are your artistic influences?
For my A Level art coursework, my two case studies were Paul Cézanne and Edgar Degas. I loved the form and textures in Degas’ work. I think a certain stillness, a moment through the times, is present in my child portraiture which I am sure has been partly influenced by these studies, but also by the stillness of all those hot summer days in France.
I hope you have enjoyed finding out a bit more about me and my photography influences. The images that I have included are photos of my boys’ imaginative play. Hopefully they will appreciate them later and remind them of all the things they liked to do when they are looking back on their childhood.
Photographing children in their own little imaginative worlds is one of the biggest privileges of being a photographer. It’s just so exciting and so much fun to be a part of! I’m always looking for inspiration for my personal work, so if your child is mad about something or you feel they have a magical little world happening, please write to me as I would love to put a series of ‘All about me’ sessions together: firstname.lastname@example.org