What goes in to photographing a Showjumping course?
I’m so lucky to have a job where I get to photograph horses and their humans in one of my favourite equestrian discipline’s; showjumping. But do we just stand in the ring and hope for the best… not quite. Here is what goes in to the process behind the images you see from your showjumping round.
🖤 First of all, I learn the course.
🤍 Secondly I’ll look at where the sun is, so roughly which way I’ll need to face to avoid shooting into sun. For indoors, you can generally get away with shooting in any direction, though some indoor arenas with big windows on one side will create glare if shooting towards them.
🖤 Next I look at where the best fences are and how I can get those, prioritising oxers and spooky or different fences. I look at each of these jumps and see which angle they look best at, where the light falls best and what is in the background. I also consider where they are coming from and where they will be going afterwards, to determine what sort of angle the rider will jump at.
🤍 I then create a little route in my head of where I need to move around to get each fence at its best angle and how to avoid being in the way of the horse at any point. If the images are looking good, we generally stick with that route for the whole class (unless the sunlight changes and makes it difficult or a particular fence isn’t working and might look better photographed from a different angle). Of course, it’s vital not to be a distraction to the horse so ideally we look to move from one positioning to another whilst the horse is going away from you or is at the other end of the arena.
🖤 I nearly always include the first fence as horses often jump this really nicely, having just come from the warm up. They also usually start off the round in a balanced canter, so make a good shape over the first fence. For the lower levels or restricted classes, it’s good to get the early jumps too, in case they don’t complete the course.
🤍 Lastly, I make sure that within my jump selection, I get a variety of angles, including portrait, side on, close up, traditional 45 degree angle and a couple of candid/canter shots too! I’ll also try and get a full series (take off, midair and landing) over at least one of the jumps, to give the rider more choice and in case their horse isn’t photogenic in the typical take off photos.
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