Living in Paso Robles, it’s hard not to know people that ride or own horses, and see a ranch or ten just a short distance from town. Speckled through the vast acreage of vineyards, equestrian events and shows can be easily found.
After photographing several Junior rodeo events in the past few years, I found I only had to look a short walk down the road to find some pretty awesome equestrian activities that could be really fun to photograph and lead to some sales opportunities.
Before you know it, I shot both adults and kids sorting, barrel racing, roping and other gymkhana events and got some cool shots that were real hits with folks. Here’s one of a young lady on the chase showing off her roping talents.
This above photograph uses a technique called “Slow Shutter”. Assisted by a tripod, a camera’s shutter speed so slowed down to a sweet spot that is related to the tracking speed of your subject. As you move the camera in sync with the subject, and you keep tracking the subject until after the shutter closes, the subject can be somewhat frozen in the foreground with the background moving at the tracking speed. Experiment with different tracking and shutter speeds to see what works best for you.
Here’s another image that was taken at a sorting competition. This particular rider was well educated in horsemanship from a young age, and her style of riding made for some beautiful renditions.
Over the course of about 6-8 months, it’s easy to accumulate around 8,000 photos for viewing and purchase. Several became prize winners at the local fair.
There is an incredible amount of work to photograph and post-process images to a professional standard, and of course the subjects love to have them to show off on social media.
But although there was a tremendous amount of website activity to view photos, very few actually made purchases. I found that the majority of people were ignoring copyright laws and screen grabbing even watermarked images and posting them on the internet. So, unfortunately business dictates not putting images online for free, and eventually I just stopped shooting these kinds of events altogether because of it.
And so if your a pro photographer and reading this, and are looking to be compensated for your hard work, I recommend finding clients that will pay to have them professionally photographed. And although this is beautiful and challenging sport to photograph, I’m now leaving it up to the amateurs – cuz that’s enough “horsin’ around” for me.