What Does an Equine Photographer Do?

Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More

A Day in the Life of an Equine Photographer

Theresa Chiechi/The Balance 2019

Equine photographers capture high-quality images of horses in various settings. To perform their work, they must have excellent knowledge of camera equipment, including lenses, flashes, timers, and other related gadgets. They must also be able to utilize their equipment efficiently to compensate for changing conditions or an uncooperative subject.

They can specialize in working with a specific breed or a specific discipline of riding. Some specialize by focusing on a niche area such as stallion photography or conformation shots — photos that show how well the horse's body shape and structure conform to the ideal for its breed and purpose.

Some equine photographers broaden their options by choosing to also take photos of other animals. Others may add to their portfolio by taking photos of children, houses, or landscapes. 

Equine Photographer Duties & Responsibilities

This job generally requires the ability to do the following tasks:

  • Select and set up photography equipment to best capture the desired image.
  • Choose a location for the photo and pose the horse.
  • Take photos.
  • Edit photos.

Equine photography can be particularly challenging when working with foals, yearlings, or temperamental horses. The equine facility usually provides a few assistants to help pose the horse, so the photographer must be comfortable directing others to get the needed results.

Once the photography session ends, the photographer utilizes photo editing computer programs to crop, resize, and enhance the images.

Equine Photographer Salary

An equine photographer's salary depends on a number of factors, including the specific niche in which a photographer chooses to specialize, how frequently they shoot, the quality of their images, their willingness to travel, and their reputation in the business. Most people in this job are freelancers who supply images to horse owners, commercial advertisers, website developers, book or magazine publishers, or stock photo agencies.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not separate equine photographer salary data from the broad category covering all photographers. Annual salaries are based on a 40-hour workweek.

  • Median Annual Salary: $34,008 ($16.35/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: More than $76,357 ($36.71/hour)
  • Bottom 10% Annual Salary: Less than $19,843 ($9.54/hour)

Equine photographers have costs associated with their business such as travel to photoshoots, advertising of their services, and other typical business expenses.

Education, Training, & Certification

No formal training is required to become an equine photographer, but some coursework in photography is recommended, whether at the college level or through participation in workshops and seminars.

A new photographer can also benefit from interning with an experienced professional and acting as their assistant. The intern can pick up insider tricks and make connections with professionals in the field.

Equine Photographer Skills & Competencies

A photographer who wants to specialize in images of horses should have the following skills and qualities:

  • Knowledge of equine behavior: Understanding horses is a must for equine photographers.
  • The photographer's eye: Those working in this field have to be able to spot the ideal moment to take the photo.
  • Patience: Equine photographers may need to wait a while for that moment to arrive.
  • Passion: A passion for horses and the people and way of life that surround them is also important.

Job Outlook

The BLS predicts that employment of all photographers, not just those specializing in equine photography, will decline 6% from 2016 to 2026. However, the number of self-employed photographers, which constitute the majority of equine photographers, is expected to grow 12% during the same period.

The BLS cites the widespread use of inexpensive digital cameras by nonprofessionals as a key reason for the drop in jobs as a whole.

Work Environment

Equine photographers can work in many locations, including racetracks, breeding farms, riding stables, and at major equine events.

Work Schedule

Equine photographers work according to the desires of their customers or the timing of the events they choose to cover.

How to Get the Job

CREATE A PORTFOLIO

Equine photographers should create an online portfolio so the public can see examples of their work and order photos.

JOIN AN ORGANIZATION

Equine photographers may benefit from joining professional organizations, such as the Equine Photographers Network (EPN) or the Professional Photographers of America. The EPN lets you post photos from your portfolio on its website.

SEARCH FOR ASSIGNMENTS

The American Horse Publications website has a page that lists job postings.

Comparing Similar Jobs

People interested in becoming equestrian photographers might also consider the following jobs. The figures provided are median annual salaries: