In Montana, we are fortunate to experience and live in a winter wonderland for several months each year. I haven't always been a fan of winter or snow and I don't expect to ever love the ice, but in recent years have come to embrace the beauty and sometimes unique opportunities that a Montana winter has to offer.
I used to shy away from photographing my horses in the winter - preferring their sleek, shiny coats to the long, thick hair that hides all the beautiful details of their face and conformation. But three winters ago - the first winter after acquiring a horse who took over my heart - I was filled with so much joy and love for this horse that for the first time I saw just how beautiful a horse can be in his winter woolies. Photographing him in the snow was a game changer for me!
He inspired me to find beauty where I had previously not seen any. Since then I have captured many horses in the snow - all wearing their winter coats and looking absolutely stunning! Instead of winter being a "dead season" for photographing horses, it has become an exciting playground for me.
Tips for capturing beautiful winter photos of your horse:
Frozen ground is very hard and can have a slippery ice layer under the snow. Be sure there is enough snow so your horse can move about safely.
Winter temperatures can dip pretty low - use caution and keep the session short so your horse won't break a sweat.
Dress warm and wear appropriate head, hand and footwear so you don't get chilled during the session. Hand and feet warmers are a great idea!
Capture interesting movement - both from your horse and the snow!
As with portraits taken any time of year, be sure the background is uncluttered.
If the temperature is cool enough, capturing the horses breath can add visual appeal to your portrait.
Adjust the exposure (increase by one stop) when shooting in the snow so your image doesn't look too gray.
Look for color - your horses coat can still gleam if the sun is out; if it is a sunny day, time your session for early morning or late afternoon and catch the sun rays shining through the trees. If the sun isn't shining, try to incorporate some evergreen trees and foilage into the background.
Winter doesn't have to be a blackout time for horse portraits. If you have questions or would like to schedule a snow portrait session for your horse, contact Shannon today.
Award-winning portrait photographer Shannon Edney's photos have been featured on multiple magazine covers with photos published in print and digital advertisements around the world. Based out of Missoula, Montana, Shannon specializes in portrait photography showcasing people, dogs, and horses (all breeds, with a focus on the Arabian horse). Shannon is known for her ability to catch the perfect expression and capture her subjects in unique lighting, resulting in portraits rich in artistry that will be treasured for years to come.