What Does an Equine Photographer Do?
Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More
Equine photographers are tasked with capturing 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—ones that show how well the horse's body shape and structures 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 the photography equipment to best capture the desired image
- Help choose a location for the photo and help pose the horse
- Take photos
- Edit photos
Equine photography can be particularly challenging when working with foals, yearlings, or any individual horses that are prone to being temperamental. The equine facility will usually provide a few assistants to help pose the horse, so the photographer must be comfortable with 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 out 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 that include travel and advertising of their services.
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 greatly from interning with an experienced professional, 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 snapping 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.
The BLS predicts that employment of all photographers, not just those specializing in equine photography, will decline 6 percent from 2016 to 2026. However, the number of self-employed photographers, which constitute the majority of equine photographers, is expected to grow 12 percent 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.
Equine photographers can work in many locations, including racetracks, breeding farms, and riding stables and at major equine events.
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
Comparing Similar Jobs
People interested in becoming equestrian photographers might also consider the following jobs. The figures provided are median annual salaries:
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018