Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Day in the Life of an Arabian Horse Breeder Photo Shoot - Part 3

Part 1

Well, as you can tell the photo shoot with the Arabian horses was really a challenge. By the time we got to the loose shots of Storm, I could already tell it was going to be interesting.

Whether or not great loose shots can be taken depends pretty much on what kind of help you have behind the scenes controlling the movement of the horses. If you have people who understand what the photographer needs to get good shots as well as what it takes to move the horse around so he provides the show, then you have a chance.

You really have to understand what it takes to cause a horse to do an inside or an outside turn. How much pressure the horse will take before it breaks into a canter or changes direction....... Pretty much the finesse things about controlling the movement of a horse are what it takes to create the right kind of movement from the horse for good loose shots. Many horse owners don't have the slightest idea about those things.

So it didn't surprise me when Johnny Johnston decided to line up all the help and give them instructions on what he wanted them to do. What did surprise me was how long it took for his little training session. I'm pretty sure they spent close to half an hour talking before we got started. I'm not sure if Johnny was telling stories or really giving them in depth instruction but either way, it was too much time for me.

I had been walking the fence line with Storm per Johnny's instructions so the stallion would "know the fence line was the safe place to be." I'm not sure that Storm was getting the picture. He had had enough of this whole in-hand session and he was egging to get loose.

The horse was pretty frustrated with me hanging onto him and he voiced his displeasure by taking a pretty good nip at me for which I promptly set him straight only to have Johnny Johnston yell at me. I let Johnny know the horse had bit me and the next thing you know he was telling me about keeping the horse out of my space and all kinds of training issues. I was doing my best to bite my tongue and just ignore his lack of understanding about what was going on between me and my horse.

Because Storm had been so "flat" for his close-ups, I think that Johnny Johnston decided it was going to take something dramatic to get the horse's attention. He asked me if I could handle the horse if he was really frightened, to which I replied in the affirmative. Then he had me turn the horse and walk him toward the camera while everyone on the sidelines let loose with shakers and plastic bags, tarps, all forms of commotion to startle the horse...........and startle him it did.

Poor Storm tried to run off and when he couldn't get loose he began rearing. I flipped the end of the lead up towards his head trying to bring him down only to have Johnny Johnston yell at me to stop. He claimed I was making the horse rear. I couldn't resist responding "NO, I'm making him stop!" as I flipped the lead at Storm again.

This time I got the end right over the horse's ears and Storm promptly dropped to the ground and looked at me. I doubted that Johnny Johnston had learned anything but I was pretty sure that Storm had. At this point I turned the horse loose as instructed and then headed for the opposite rail.

The horse was heading straight for the corner that Johnny had made it clear he did not want the horse in so I moved up to block him. Since I could see that none of the people who were supposed to be turning him were making a move, I did it myself. Only to have Johnny Johnston yell at me again. He told me to get out of there because I didn't know what I was doing. I think that meant because "HE" hadn't trained me! At this point I was about ready to choke Johnny Johnston. I was probably the only person there who did understand what it takes to get good pictures and he told me to butt out.

So I backed off and watched as his "trained helpers" pushed too hard or not enough and everything in between. My horse raced around at top notch speed when what the photographer wanted was a nice trot. I might have laughed if it hadn't been my horse and my pictures. I figured because Storm is very photogenic we would get pictures we could use but this photo shoot sure wasn't turning out the way I had hoped.

By the time I caught up Storm he was a sweaty mess. It wasn't that he had really been running that long. Mostly, it was the stress. Being in a strange place and getting chased around with people yelling probably wasn't how Storm had planned on spending his day.

Because I needed to deal with my hot horse, I let my friend, Lilli, get started with the pictures of her black horse, Quincy (father of the twins). Photographing black horses is a tricky thing and as you can guess with Johnny Johnston it because a chore. Not only that but Quincy turned out to be the last horse that was photographed that day. Johnny decided the light was no good and we were done for the day. Of course, that final decision didn't get made until there was a break for lunch and then a break for the sun to move. It was finally 4 or 5 by the time the official decision was made. So to get to the point............we have to go back on Saturday to shot more pictures.

Needless to say, I'm having trouble getting myself into gear to do this all over again. Not only do I have to re-bathe horses and touch up their clip jobs, I have to work up the "nerve" to deal with Johnny again. I really need these pictures or I'd probably pass. However, I don't have the funds for a private shoot with another photographer, so I'll just have to "buck up" and go with it.

If you're wondering if it's worth are some of the proofs. What do you think?

Part 4

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  1. I really like the last photos but I can't say the others make me go wow. I guess the dullness of the light maybe. The last picture is pretty awesome though. I don't know how you tolerated that guy.

  2. Wow, I'm glad it wasn't me in that position I doubt I would've been able to bite my tounge! I'd love to be a great photographer, even just a good one but I don't understand how people can talk like that to their clients! I understand it must be frustrating to deal with different people of different experience levels, and fair enough I've lost my temper with people who know ziltch...but not with people who actually know what they're doing!!

  3. It's worth it the pictures are beautiful.

  4. I think you got some pretty good pictures. I like the second one the best. He's a handsome boy!

    At least in pictures he reminds me a lot of Kaswyn. Maybe I'm just partial to chestnuts!

  5. Beautiful pics of a very handsome horse!


  6. MiKael- I love the first two action shots of him. The second still one, where he is looking at the white thing- great facial expression there.

    Know what? You are a much better woman than I. My. Photo- grapher Man and I would have had a bit of a conversation, that would not have ended well for him.

    Hang in there lady-- will be praying patience to you! ;)

  7. I wouldn't have kept quiet. Seriously, I would have told him, my horse, my way, I'll handle him, you shut up and shoot.

    The guy is there to provide a service to you. You are his boss, you are paying him. I would have taken my money and walked away. I would have gone home, pulled out my own camera, taken 5000 shots until I got one that was of good quality to use for a sale pic.

    Rude is rude and has no place in business. It's people like him that give horses a bad name. No one wants to deal with people like that.

    As for the pictures. I don't like them. They're flat and too dark. The movement is off on the horse, like the shutter closed one step too late or too soon. I like the horse though. :)

  8. It's too bad this has not been a good experience with Johnny. I hope it goes better tomorrow. Having animals let alone people waiting around for so long, is never a good idea before a photo shoot.

    I like the 2nd photo down as a face shot (if it's cropped), and the last photo, which could be lightened to look better. I don't like the one with the truck in the background. Bad location. Maybe it could be Photoshopped out.

    The non-professional ones you've posted of Storm look a lot better than these, as far as his personality and fire showing.

    Good luck!

  9. I like the third and fourth ones from the top, but the others really don't do that much for me. I wouldn't have put up with his abuse, afterall You are paying him and You own the horse! You're far more patient than me...LOL

  10. I don't know if I could have held my temper as well as you did... Rude is rude. Hmmmmph! Too bad I don't live in your area. There's nothing I enjoy more than photographing horses... and I don't charge LOL!

    The shots are nice... but I don't know if they were worth the annoyance ;p

  11. looks like you had to be in the old"train the trainers" mode :)

    well done
    gp in montana

  12. Well as a photographer I must say I am not blown away especially when I know what arabians are capable of. This guy sounds like an idiot. If it were me I would cancel the next shoot and say thanks but no thanks, unless you will lose money because of it. I find his behaviour very unprofessional and condescending and I would have left.

    I wish I was closer I would do them for you, but I would trust your judgement and even though I havent shot many arabians I am sure we would get great pictures with time and patience and your direction. That is what I find to be the hardest, keeping the horse's attention, their attention spans are short and if they are past it there is just no point.

    I know you need these photos, but I think you could get just as good ones from your sons camera. If you are needing really fantastic WOW pictures I doesnt look as if this guy is going to give them to you.

    How dissappointing. Again I wish I were closer, man this makes me mad.

  13. Also wanted to add that I dont like the white fence. I know you cannot always be in control of these things and that they can be edited out, but I am willing to bet he will charge an arm and a leg to do it. Man I wish I could be thre oor get a good camera to you and give ou basic instructions, because even if you shoot thousands of photos you will definitely come up with better crisper, punchy powerful shots than these. I don't like knocking another photographer but these are just not worth the hassle you had to go through. Does he charge the travelling fee again for next weekend? Also how many horses did he take on to shoot in the first place, he only got 4 done and then not very well. On his website he talks abut setting shoots up with 20 or 30 horses!!!! There are really only four hours or so in the day where the light is good to shoot good pictures, depending on the time of the year, two hours early morning and two hours late afternoon evening, anything in between is hit and miss.

    Okay off my soap box. Shoot pay for my airfare and I will spend as long there as it takes to get all of the horses taken care of LOL and I promise it wont be as traumatic an experience

  14. MiKael,
    Just a friendly word of caution: Unless you have his permission, you might want to take his proof photos off your blog before he finds out you've used his copyrighted material. If he does a Google search for your name, he will find your blog and the photos, along with what you've said about him. You don't need any more trouble. :)

  15. I like the action shots. Not so much the stills.
    What is it with people who work FOR the public but cannot deal with the public?? How on earth do they stay in business?

    Good luck with Saturday's shoot. Maybe if you tell him to stick it where the sun don't shine-he will get the hint that he shouldn't be yelling at you-tehehe!!

  16. I like the first 2 action shots as well.

    I agree with Mrs. Mom we would have had a meeting of the minds, probably wouldn't of ended well! You are better than I would have been girl! I probably wouldn've strangled him!

  17. I like the last picture the best, but as you scroll up then it seems like the photo's get worse. The horse is gorgeous but the photography from the photographer is off and dark... The first pic isn't all that great. The photo is not centered, and it cuts of the horse... is it suppose to look like that? The first pic, you only get to see half the horse. It would look better if it was cropped and centered and was a close up of the horses neck and head. The second picture doesn't really flatter his body and conformation. But from there the pictures get better. I like the one that your son-in-law took at your open show. That one looks better because it definitely shows his pretty conformation, I just wish he was looking into the camera :). But it's still is better than some of Johnny's photo's... Although his last 3 are the better ones that he took... but still I think you or one of your family members could have gotten the same if not better pictures of Storm than Johnny. All his yelling did no good anyway.. I agree with LOC, you definitely can get some good photo's yourself by taking 500-5000 pictures. And I agree with "dj" too.