Photographing Horses on the Beach

One of the best parts of being a professional equine photographer in St. Augustine, Florida is getting the opportunity to photograph horses on the beach on a regular basis!  When the alarm clock goes off an hour before sunrise I always groan a little at having to get up really REALLY early but then I remember the folks bringing the horses to the beach were probably up hours before me feeding and trailering horses.  So I'm quickly off and running and the excitement starts building the moment I get in the truck and start looking for that golden glow that means that the sun is getting ready to rise over the ocean. 

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I like to start early, having the horses saddled and riders dressed and ready to ride just before the sun hits the horizon so I can shoot for silhouettes and starbursts over the water trying to soak up as much sunrise color and cloud texture as possible.  It's not long before the sounds of the waves coupled with hoof beats has me in my happiest of happy places and I'm up to my knees in water and my elbows are covered with sand.   As a horse lover and a photographer this is really a dream come true... I actually get teary-eyed remembering these precious moments with fellow equestrians and other photographers.     

Once the sun rises up over the watery horizon It's fun to get some action shots of horses splashing through the surf, pawing in the water, running on a long line or just spending time watching the waves.  Taking portraits of horses and horses with their people on the beach is truly an awesome experience.  No matter the morning light, the beach always has something magical to provide to photographers.  

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I do a lot of pre-session planning when it comes to photographing horses on the beach and like to encourage those who don't normally ride on the beach to take their horse down at least once prior to their session date.  You don't want to spend your session time schooling a horse that's terrified of the boogie man waves coming right at them and a photo shoot isn't normally a great time to try something new with your horse...or at least that's my philosophy.  So pre-session consultations that include thinking through all elements of the session are essential.  The planning makes it all worth it though when you have a successful equine beach session and equine wall art featuring YOUR horses hanging in your home for generations to come. 

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For other photographers interested in photographing horses on the beach consider joining Phyllis Burchett and Fast Horse Photography at an upcoming workshop featuring horses on the beach!