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The Do’s and Don’ts of Horse Show Fashion Photo Shoots


When it comes to having a photo shoot done, one of the most significant issues we face is what are we going to wear. It’s not as easy as it sounds; there are many things to factor to get that perfect shot.

Thankfully, some of the industry’s best equine photographers such as; Terri Cage, Kirstie Marie, Danielle Long, and Ali Hubble all give their insight on some things to take in consideration when picking that perfect outfit.

Here are some things to take into consideration when picking out your outfits for your next shoot.

The Use of the Pictures

One of the most significant factors that goes into a photoshoot is the use of the photos. When it comes to ad use, Kirstie Marie points out that “you will want to speak with your graphic designer and horse trainer beforehand to come up with a concept for your advertising campaign.”

Photo © Danielle Long

Shooting in show clothes is always a great start, however, if you decide to shoot in regular attire, Ali Hubble suggests to keep your theme going by matching the colors of your show clothes and regular clothes. “If your best class is the showmanship, and your outfit is black and gold, wear a casual black and gold outfit.”

Another item to take into consideration is how long you have been with your current equine show partner. Danielle Long points out that “if you’re a new team, I suggest shooting in your show clothes for advertising so people can put a name to the face in the arena. Also, if you have new show clothes, it’s a fun opportunity to show them off.”

However, sometimes we want more casual shots in ads or for our wall and personal use, and thus it may be fun to pair a cute top with jeans or a sport a flowy dress.

Location of the Shoot

Photo © Ali Hubbell

Most photoshoots tend to happen in or around the barn, in open fields, or surrounded by beautiful landscapes. When picking an outfit to compliment the location, Kirstie Marie suggests that “casual options look best around the barn, while more romantic outfits like maxi dresses look great in big, open fields.”

The season and colors of your surroundings are also vital factors to take into consideration. Terri Cage points out that, “If it is spring and bright green, choose contrasting colors to make you stand out from the landscape.” That beautiful maxi dress that you’ve been dying to wear may be the perfect option for an open field shot.

On the other hand, Ali Hubble likes to shoot in ways that you might not expect in that particular location. “If we are in a barn, I like when my clients wear fancy dresses and heels. Something you’d typically never wear in a barn. Or if we are shooting in water, jeans. Again, you’d typically not wear your jeans in a creek.”

Deciding the location of your shoot beforehand can make picking your outfit much easier.

The Color of Your Horse

Photo © Terri Cage

This may be a no brainer for some people who know what colors work best for them based off their show clothes. However, it can be a challenge for others, especially when shooting multiple horses.

Kirstie Marie states, “As a general rule, I think that red horses (sorrel, chestnut, red roans) look great with soft earth tones like gold, rust, or brown. Blue horses (bay, gray, black, blue roan) pair well with bright colors. Yellow horses (palomino, buckskin) look great with nearly any color.”

Photo © Kirstie Marie Photography

When it comes to shooting with multiple horses, Danielle Long suggests, “Steer towards a more neutral tone rather than a specific color that would compliment/work with all the horses’ color variations.” Kirstie adds on to that by saying “Black, ivory, or blue/green shades compliment every horse and are a great option if you have multiple horses.”

Terri Cage says, “I personally like bright pastels (coral, mint, rose) when working with multiple horses. That way you stand out. When working with multiple horses, you can blend in and almost get lost. If standing out isn’t as important, then do a neutral color like cream or black.”

Patterns vs. Solids

Photo © Ali Hubbell

When it comes to patterns and prints, most photographers agree that solid colors tend to shoot better. Black, white, and other solid neutral colors will always complement the horse and rider and will stay in style for years to come. It’s a good idea to avoid patterns that are ultra-trendy, as they may go out of style after a few years.

Another component to take in consideration is photoshop. Terri Cage pointed out that bold patterns can often make a person appear bigger than they are and that it is difficult to photoshop lead ropes and other unnecessary elements out of the frame.

Photo © Danielle Long

However, Ali Hubble suggested that if you are going to do a loud color, make it something impressionable. She suggests “a cool, flowy dress or an edgy top. Throw in some statement jewelry to the basic tops if you’d like.”

If you’re going to go with a basic black or white top, Danielle Long suggests adding a statement piece that pops. Long recommends, “If the shirt is subtle in color, adding jewelry or a belt helps dress it up without making it too formal.”

As for our men out there, all these photographers agree that a subtle pattern or solid works best for you. Every photographer has their style and preference regarding patterns and solids. Be sure to discuss your goals for the shoot to make sure that you and your photographer’s ideas align.

The Fit of the Clothes

Photo © Terri Cage

Making sure your clothes fit and are mobile is one of the essential parts of a shoot. Terri Cage mentions that the length of clothing is one of the biggest problems that she notices when it comes to shooting. When the clothes are too short, your mobility is limited which means fewer poses. She suggests testing your length and movement before shooting to make sure you do not face these problems.

“Raise your arms over your head, sit down on the floor with legs straight, knees bent, legs crossed,” suggests Cage. “Sit in a chair at various poses. Also, try squatting down. If any of these cause the length to be unflattering or you find the clothing too short, do not use the outfit.”

Photo © Terri Cage

Another element to factor in is cold shoulder and flowy tops. As Terri Cage points out, “Cold shoulder tops show a lot of skin that is close to your head, distracting from your face and pulling the focus to your shoulders instead.”

Further, flowy tops can be beautiful in person but awful to shoot because they tend to add unwanted extra pounds. Therefore, picking something with a waistline is better for most women.

As for men, all photographers agreed that your shirt and jeans must be starched for that clean, crisp look. Your shirt should be fitted but not too tight. If the shirt is too tight, the picture tends to look revealing and unpolished.

Bring Lots of Options

Photo © Kirstie Marie Photography

Sometimes what looks good in person does not translate well on the camera. However, photographers are here to help with this issue. Danielle Long suggests bringing different outfit options with you to the shoot to see what looks best on camera. She thinks having multiple options is better.

Long explains, “It gives you multiple shots with different outfits which means more advertising photos with fewer photo shoots.”

Kirstie Marie takes the same approach when it comes to having options. “I tell everyone to bring 3-5 options. We go over the outfits at the beginning of the shoot to decide the best order together for lighting and location.”

Adding to that, Ali Hubble says, “My clients typically do bring options or send me photos beforehand. I even give them some ideas before the shoot.” If you are struggling on what to wear, always ask the photographer for help deciding so they can point you in the right direction before the shoot.

Photo © Ali Hubbell

Have Confidence

As they always say, when you look good, you feel good. Having confidence in your outfit brings out the best in you and produces the best images.

As Terri Cage says, “If you do not feel comfortable in what you are wearing, it shows in the photos.”

Therefore, the best accessory anyone can wear for an outfit is confidence. It also creates excellent energy for the camera according to Ali Hubble. “When they are excited and confident, it makes me excited and confident. That’s when the magic happens.”

These are your pictures to cherish with your horse for years to come. Make them exactly what you want.


About the Author: Shelby Ratliff is an amateur AQHA competitor from Plano, Texas where she currently works for Chicago Title of Texas in sales and marketing. Outside of work, Shelby shows the Hunter Under Saddle on her horse Willy Has Potential under the guidance of Highpoint Performance Horses.

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