Achieving the best reference photo possible is key

When deciding you want a painting of your horse you will also need to think about a photograph.  You may have some already which are suitable to use as a reference image.  Or you may need to take some more.  More often that not I have to ask for some extra photos to be taken. I hope that this Horse Photography Tips page will help you.  Putting together these pictures will help you visualise what I need as a good reference image.

After all I can only paint what I see so therefore a flattering pose is going to be much more appealing. In my experience horses are the most difficult to get right out of any pet animal. If you live locally or within an hour’s drive I will happily drive to you to take photographs. Within a few mile radius there is no extra charge which include Bideford, Barnstaple, Westward Ho! and surrounding villages.  Exeter and Tiverton are around an hour’s drive and I will just ask for costs to be covered.

As already explained on the photography tips page I will need a high resolution sharp photo to work from and to be aware of images being automatically resized.


Although the light is good on all three images to the left as you can see the poses are not very flattering.

The ginger horse has great lighting making the coat glossy. What is not so good is the fact he looks half asleep and not really too amused at all with both ears pointing backwards. It could have worked perfectly had he of been a little curious or someone was holding a carrot.

The bay horse image is a great fun photo and of good quality, but is not really an ideal candidate for a portrait.  The angle being quirky is not suited to a traditional style painting. 

The white horse is in the stable so his eyes are not very clearly visible. Having a pole hiding his neck is not a great look and looking straight at the camera accentuates long features. 


Seeing the photographs on the right you may be thinking they look ok. Although the photos are not bad, they could just be a lot better. The horse is wearing a lot of tack which covers a huge amount of his features. It’s extremely difficult to take all of that out and have it looking quite right. The light is also a bit harsh which is casting dark shadows and contrast. 

The other bay horse again it’s not a bad photo, I just want to explain how to get the best photo possible. Here he is looking straight on and his halter is covering quite a lot of bone structure so removing it would be tricky. 


So here we have the same horse with some editing. Also the same horse in different positions.

The horse on the left could be a spot the difference competition! It’s a perfect photo and all I have done is added some mane and tidied up the hair on his forehead. By doing this it has enhanced the overall look making it look much more appealing and finished. Both backgrounds work well, and this is just to show an example of a muted scene and a tonal. 

Now the chestnut on the right both good photos although he has his ear chopped off in the top image.  This can easily be replaced and his ear is also quite easy to turn. However, because of the position his head looks disproportionate to his body. Making his head look larger than it normally would be.

The bottom photo is perfect and flattering. His mane can be tidied up and the piece of straw left out!

I hope you find the horse photography tips useful, and hopefully it’s worth all my effort in creating this page. Good luck!