A few weeks ago we introduced you to long time equine photographer, Christy Burleson. Burleson has turned her passion into a career which has allowed her to travel the country shooting for her own personal clientele as well as various companies in the industry. Burleson’s raw talent and creative eye shines through in her image portfolio which ranges from rugged cattle branding shoots to delicate sunset beach horseback rides. Christy strives to capture her subject's individuality and inner beauty.
Since Burleson’s photography career started at such a young age, she is an excellent resource for the up and coming equine photographer. Here are her five tips and tricks for photography:
1. Using The Right Camera
Whether you are maneuvering around a horse show or exploring a cattle ranch for your next photography project, it is important that you have the the right camera and lens for the job. Burleson first began her career shooting with film cameras and moved to the digital version 11 years ago in order to further develop her career. “At first I was more comfortable with the film camera, but digital allows me to preview all of my photos and know if I have achieved the best shot immediately,” stated Burleson. Currently, Christy’s camera of choice is her Canon 7D with an 18 to 200 lens. She further explained that she has found this camera and lens combination to be the most versatile and lightweight when traveling for shoots and trying to keep up with her equestrian subjects.
2. Optimize All Of The Angles
In Part I of the Christy Burleson article series, we featured a photo of Christy riding along side of her photography subject. Burleson claims that she spends approximately 50% of the time on the ground during her equestrian photo shoots and the other 50% of the time on the back of a horse to capture an array of different angles. “ Being able to ride during my shoots has allowed me to target a different perspective and assist with accomplishing my goal during a session.” While Christy may not have her own horse when she is traveling, her gelding ‘Rebel’, or “Mister” as she calls him, will occasionally accompany her around the more local shoots.
3. “All You Can Do Is Ask”
We as equestrians know that working with our equine partners is not always the simplest task and capturing that adorable photo for social media often leads to a handful of bloopers and one quality image. For Christy, the language between her and the horse seems to come naturally. Christy outlined that a horse's ears do not always need to be pricked to capture the greatest picture. With the goal in mind of creating an image that symbolizes her subject's personality or relationship, attentive facial expressions are not always necessary. Burleson stated, “ If I am shooting a horse and rider pair where the horse is very attentive to his rider, his ears will be back listening rather than forward towards the camera. For those images, I want to show the attentiveness the horse has to his rider.” Christy then when on to say, “ If you really need a horse's ears to be up, all you have to do is ask!”
4. Choosing Your Mentor
When trying to develop your skills in any type of photography, it is important to browse the portfolios of other photographers to better identify your interests. Whether you find yourself drawn to portraits or actions shots, it can be beneficial to narrow your focus to see where you are the most passionate. “ If you are interested in pursuing photography, study the work of a photographer that you like and understand why you like their images.” Find out what it is about their style that draws you into their image and ask them questions about their best practices. The more you practice the better you will become.
5. Developing Your Style
As a photographer for over 20 years, Christy Burleson is a firm believer in owning your own opinions. She stated, “as a photographer developing your individual style, you need to do what you think looks good and shoot the images that represent you as well as the subjects.” Christy explains that it is important to understand the basic rules of lighting and composition, but in order to develop your eye it takes practice and experimentation. Having worked with horses for many years, Burleson claims that her innate ability to read people and horses has helped her achieve success outside of her original comfort zone and create her own style that is represented in her image portfolio.
Photographer Christy Burleson actively travels around the country, capturing unique photo shoots for all equestrian disciplines, along with weddings, graduations, family shoots, etc. Burleson is currently accepting new clients and is planning her next visit to Colorado the FIRST WEEKEND of August! To plan your shoot with Christy Burleson, contact her via the link below.