Top five tips for a magic beach photoshoot

The Certain Magic of a Beach Photoshoot

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As an Australian Equine Photographer my mission is to capture timeless moments showing the love and connection between my clients and their equine, using our incredible countryside and spectacular rural estates.

Creating beautiful photographs that tell a story is my passion. And in Australia, we have many unique environments on which these stories can be told.

Scroll down to learn Rachel’s top five tips for a beach photoshoot

Out of all my sessions, I find a certain magic shooting on our stunning and unique beaches.

The stillness at first light, soft colours during morning light, cool sand and the playfulness of a horse approaching gentle waves, always gets me excited about the moments I can capture in the session.

Equally I love the afternoon warmth, gorgeous sunsets and the misty horizons that sometimes come with an evening beach session.

With all this in mind, I have personally selected beautiful beaches that offer the sea, bay, inlet waters and sand hills that make for a gorgeous backdrop to a photoshoot session.

One of my fondest moments of joy is riding with the summer breeze blowing through my hair, playfully splashing through the water, to swim on our horses bareback into the ocean. Our horses enjoyed it as much as we did.

Fortunately, our beaches are protected and cared for, and therefore, many horse riding beaches in Victoria require a permit to ride on. Because I’m an avid rider, as well as a photographer, I have the permits for my chosen beach locations covered. Taking care of it is part of my service.

I thoroughly enjoy watching my client relax into the session as they ride between the waves, enjoy moments bonding with their beloved horse, forget about their worries and soak-up the smells of the ocean.

During this time, I quietly capture the uninhibited nature of the affection and candid playfulness between them. My passion is to connect with horses through my lens and capture the true personality of that horse.

Equine portraiture sessions can also be done with the horse in-hand, allowing the owner who doesn’t ride in public places (or prefers not to), the opportunity to have stunning photographs of their beloved equine in a gorgeous beach location too. These are becoming increasingly popular as the sand dunes, native grasses and water provide a perfect backdrop for a variety of imagery.

Great care, safety and love for horses is a vital factor in all my sessions, so it is important that the horses being photographed have experienced the beach before. Under no circumstances in my sessions, do I want horses to experience any stress or fear – not only does this not make for great photos, but it is never desirable or safe to push the emotional limits of the horse or rider. Creating beautiful equine art is about appreciating the horses’ nature and capturing them when they are full of confidence and vitality.

Often, people ask me how I manage to photograph horses on the beach without any restraint. It isn’t safe practice to simply allow a horse to go ‘free’, however, in one of my earliest sessions I had a rider with the perfect expertise who allowed me to achieve just that!

Frances Hughes has been an avid beach rider for many years and is an extremely accomplished horse rider. She visits the beach regularly with her two horses. As she rides one horse, the other follows, a credit to her horsemanship and the strong bond they have formed over time.

I vividly remember watching the trio, mesmerised at how impeccably well the horses behaved and enjoyed their time at the beach.

It was during this session in particular that I knew at my core how blessed I am to be pursuing my dreams as an equine photographer and meeting passionate and capable riders and horse lovers.

For many reasons, including safety, I have one or more assistants, and we either use portable fencing to secure loose horses or have them on a long lead where we can either run with them or we lunge them. If we use a lunge line, I look for a horse who works correctly within the halter and not pulls against it. My aim is to photograph a nicely framed horse. If we do use halters and leads they are removed from the images in post-shoot-editing for the final equine art.

Preparing for a beach photoshoot may seem daunting, however there are some simple stages to the planning. As a photographer I talk my clients through many suggestions, to achieve the best experience on the day and of course artwork for their walls that they can treasure forever.

Getting to know my clients and their relationship with their horses is key to achieving the results which often speak for themselves. Brooke Verwey-Mitchell’s photoshoot session is one such event.

Brooke was a winner of my monthly photoshoot giveaway and I had some big plans for her. When I contacted her to organise the session, I planted the idea of using a stunning parachute dress to stylise the photoshoot.

Always up for an adventure, she agreed that this would be fun. Having previously photographed Brooke’s drum stallion, Rumneyhill Shokora of Queensferry Park, I knew his temperament and training would handle the beautiful 14ft parachute dress. We chose to photograph this at the beach and on my property in Neerim South, Victoria.

Often, clients can feel overwhelmed about organising a photoshoot when they first make contact. However, after finding their ideal vision and discussing how I can work with them to achieve this, what feels like an impossible task starts to take form as we work out a plan.

Do you have a favourite beach you ride on? I would love to hear about your story, your horse and why you love riding on the beach.

You can email: rachel@equinephotographybyrachelflynn.com

To appreciate this article in full, find your copy of the magazine in a newsagent near you or buy the issue now and have it mailed.

Rachel’s Top 5 Tips for a Beach Photoshoot:

  1. Get your horse beach ready. If you have never ridden your horse on the beach, plan some trips to ensure your horse is happy and relaxed. We want them to enjoy the location and be safe. This will make a huge difference to your photographs.
  2. Ensure your horse is clean on the day of your session. Ideally wash your horse the day before so that you run on time for your session.
  3. Extra hay. Having a well-fed horse prior to the photoshoot is essential. While the horse is being prepared and the client is having wardrobe checks or changes I suggest giving your horse hay and water.
  4. The time is now! Don’t wait for perfect. Your horse may be a little fat, or not in show condition – none of this matters. What matters is that you make memories of your best friend to treasure forever.
  5. Never hesitate to be upfront with your photographer about the results you want for your artwork.

These tips and many more are included in a comprehensive Photoshoot Success Guide written for my clients and sent in welcome packs with each of my photoshoot packages. I consult online and via phone a number of times during the preparation stages of a photoshoot.

Rachel offers photo sessions around Australia and you can keep updated with my travel schedule here.

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