One of my favourite types of shoots, is, without doubt, children and their ponies.
It’s kind of funny, really, as I’ve never been the most maternal person. Whilst my friends at school were playing ‘mums and babies’, I was galloping around the playground pretending to be a pony, or writing lists of horse names in my ‘riding school’ book. And I’m far more likely to point out a puppy, than a new born baby, when we’re out and about.
But I absolutely love working with children! And over the years, they have become some of my absolute favourite shoots.
Children are so much more authentic in front of the camera. They have no inhibitions or insecurities about the way they look. They aren’t self-critical or worried about what other people might say. They just love their ponies. Some of my clients return to me every couple of years, to capture the growth of their little ones, their new ponies, their progress, etc. on camera, which is such a privilege.
True, some of them can be a little shy when we first meet. But that’s really not a problem when you stand them with their pony and they snuggle into it, to hide from the strange lady with the camera.
And you’ll often find that after five or ten minutes, they’ll ease into things, realise I’m really not that scary and really start to enjoy being centre of attention.
So, with the goal in mind to work more with children and their ponies, I’ve put a little blog post together for the horsey mums out there, to give you some top tips on getting the most from a photoshoot of your little ones with their best equine friends.
One of the biggest challenges we face when working with small people, is that they just don’t have the strength to hold onto their greedy ponies. And we all know that most ponies are ruled by their bellies. So, pop a child on the grass and give them a pony to hold and… you get the idea.
The best thing to do, for both the pony and the child, is to practice holding and leading. Have a few goes in the run up to your shoot, so that your child knows what to do on the day, when their pony heads straight for grass, and doesn’t get upset that things aren’t going to plan.
Of course, things probably won’t go to plan, and that’s totally ok, but it’s a much nicer experience for them if they’re feeling prepared and a little more in control.
Aswell as this, practice any ridden shots you’d like to achieve. Whether that’s bareback and hatless (entirely your choice and no obligation to do so) or just wandering up and down the lane you’d like to use as a backdrop. The more they understand what will happen on the day, in their mind, the easier things will play out, when it comes to the actual shoot.
I’ve already touched upon the problems we face when we want a hungry pony to stand sweetly on a field of lush grass, so think carefully about your locations. Hard ground might be a better option, at least to begin with. So do you have a pretty tarmac or shingle drievway we can use, or if you tidy up on the yard a bit, could that be somewhere we could shoot?
Of course, we can use the grassy areas too, but if we want the pony to stand sweetly and be cuddled, it’s just good to have spots where we can limit the temptation for them to drag our mini model to the yummiest snack, if possible. And sometimes, we can even allow the pony to eat whilst we get the shots we need.
Dress your littlens in clothing that is cute, but practical, wherever possible. I have a Pinterest board with the most adorable ideas for kids clothing, to give you lots of inspiration, which you can see here. And there’s also more advice on that in my Client Area, which you will get access to as you book.
Perhaps have an outfit that will be safe for them on the ground, with boots that protect their little toes. And then an outift that would be ok for them to climb aboard in.
But equally, you know your horse and your child’s ability. And if you have a saint of a first-pony and a child that is capable of handling said pony, you might be less worried about their feet getting squished.
If they want to bring props, that’s fine too. A favourite teddy, or a fancy dress item that they’re loving can really add character.
Give Yourself Time
The worst thing you can do is be rushing around trying to get a child ready, keep them clean AND make a pony look smart, five minutes before I arrive. Give yourself plenty of time and I’d strongly advise a second pair of helping hands, if you can bribe a friend to help you. That way someone can keep an eye on the pony, whilst you keep your kids out of the mud, or vice versa.
Throw Everything Out of The Window
With all of the above said and done, kids (and ponies) are unpredictable and are actually best left to be as natural as possible. And the shoot will be just that. It will evolve naturally and we’ll make it as fun as possible. I just want your kids to enjoy their time with me and I want to capture their character and their love for their horses, on camera. So we’ll be having lots of pony cuddles, lots of fun and there will be no expectations or formalities, involved.
Relax & Enjoy
And as much as I have learned to be relaxed and unstressed when photographing children, I also ask that you, as parents, try to do the same.
Having an over-bearing parent on a shoot, telling their child what they should be doing and what they aren’t doing right, can really kill the happy mood that I try my hardest to create.
And please, please do not tell your child to ‘look at the camera and smile’ every other minute. We like things to be much more natural over here. I want it all to be a great, fun, memorable experience for everybody and for you, me, the kids and the ponies to all enjoy it together.
I hope that this helps prepare your children for their photoshoot with their horses. They really are such a joy to work with and hopefully you can see from the photos I’ve used in this blog post, they’re the very best models.
I’d love the opportunity to photograph your children and their ponies this year, so if you’d like to book, I’d love to hear from you. You can get in touch right here.
PIN FOR LATER