Photographing an equestrian wedding can pose some interesting challenges.
As a wedding and portrait photographer living among the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains, I often draw inspiration from the equestrian estates surrounding Charlottesville. The perfect way to create a cohesive equestrian themed wedding, is in the details. In addition to having a beautiful horse, adding small decorative details to your invitations or place cards is a great way to tie things together. Around us we find a lot of the venues lend themselves to an equestrian theme with their beautiful rolling pastures, and majestic barn converted for a wedding reception.
I have fallen in love with the equestrian community and continually look for ways to incorporate horses into my work. As a result, I have had the pleasure of photographing everything from trash-the-dress sessions, bridal portraits, weddings, and styled shoots that revolve around horses.
There are a few unique challenges to consider when photographing a horse. To ensure that everything runs smoothly, I find it is essentail to do a pre-planning session beforehand to get an idea of what our client wants and to determine their experience and ability. Allotting plenty of time during the golden hours for photography (after sunrise or before sunset), and having a few people to help is also key to making it enjoyable, fun, and safe.
One of the first things we do at the pre-planning session is acclimate the horse with the bride. A bride’s bright white dress can often be intimidating to the horse and create an unpredictable situation. To avoid this, I begin by photographing the bride 5-10 feet away while the handler is holding the horse at a distance. After a few minutes, I will have the handler slowly lead the horse to the bride so it feels more comfortable as it approaches.
Once the horse and bride are comfortable together the fun begins! Depending on the bride’s ability, we may do some pictures on the ground, or have her ride bareback across the field. I always enjoy a challenge and work closely with my clients to create a memorable and unique portrait experience so they receive beautiful photographs that will last a lifetime. Involving horses is always exciting and I look forward to all the sessions ahead.
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