Carrie L. Lewis, Artist

Photography for Your Horse Portrait

The best way to insure a wonderful horse portrait is to start with the best possible reference materials. That starts with the photography for your horse portrait.

The best way to get all that information is for me to meet with you to photograph and observe your horse. The place of meeting is not as important as the opportunity for me to see and observe the animal.

Would you like a particular setting for the portrait? That also needs to be photographed for reference. The best of all possible ideas is to photograph the horse in that setting. But I can combine photos of the horse and the location from separate images.

Photography for Horse Portraits Services

When I meet with you to take photographs, I will also use the time to watch the horse move, observe personality and note any of those endearing quirks that make your horse special.

I will also be able to get a good, up-close look at coat color, including the color and temperature of highlights, and special markings.

This work will generally take an hour. If you have a particular idea in mind, by all means share it! New ideas are always welcome during that time.

The basic charge for photography is $500 for the actual photography. If you live within 100 miles round trip of Newton, Kansas, or if you meet with us within that 50 mile radius, there will be no additional charges.

If the round trip is 100 miles or more, there will be travel charges of 50 cents per mile by car, plus meals. Travel expenses also include air fare if that’s the best way to make the trip. For trips requiring more than one day to complete, lodging will also be charged.

If several people interested in portraits want to meet at the same place for photography, travel expenses can be divided among the participants to reduce the travel cost to each. Each person will still be charged the $500 basic fee.

If you have any questions about the photography for your horse portrait, contact me. I am always happy to answer any questions you may have about photographs or any other part of the painting process.

Using Your Own Photographs

Your portrait can also be developed from existing photographs. This is especially important if your horse is deceased, is in poor health or is no longer accessible for other reasons. However, the quality of the finished portrait will still be largely determined by the number and quality of photographs you provide.

The more photographs you provide, the more options I have for developing concept designs. Unless you have a photograph you want re-created as a portrait, the more photographs you send, the better.

Send any photographs you think will be helpful. Even if you will be getting a head study portrait, don’t choose photographs based solely on that feature. Some of the best head study portraits have been created from photographs that show the entire horse. Computers and software allow me to scan and crop excellent reference material from many different types of photographs. Don’t rule out those pasture or performance shots!

Good reference photos also:

  • Are well-lit
  • Taken outside in natural lighting
  • Show the horse close enough to show details. I can’t draw what I can’t see unless you want a generic horse
  • Include the halter, bridle, or other tack you want to be included in the portrait
  • Be free of photographic distortion (no huge heads and tiny bodies)

Make sure at least one photograph shows the true color of the horse and make sure you have marked that photograph.

Include a photograph of markings (blaze, snip, socks, other markings), if necessary.

If you cannot decide what type of portrait you would like, send as many photographs as possible and I will develop concept drawings showing a variety of ideas.

Using a Professional Photographer’s Image

If you will be using the photographs of a professional photographer, you MUST also provide the express written permission of the photographer to use his or her work as a basis for your portrait. In most cases, photographers are very helpful in allowing their photographs to be used for reference material. In some cases, they will require a fee for the ‘right to use’ their photographs. This fee is NOT included in any of other portrait charges and can range anywhere from $20 to $500.

I cannot state this too clearly.

I honor the copyrights of other professionals and will not use professional photographs without the clear permission of the photographer.

If you prefer, I will make the contacts and the requests for the right to use professional photographs.

You’ve Provided the Photography for Your Horse Portrait: What Happens Next

Whether I take the photographs or you provide them, once the photographs are in hand, the process is the same. I will review all available photographs, looking for those that best express your ideas for the portrait.

Then I will develop compositional sketches from the best photographs, and you will have the opportunity to choose the ones you like and/or make suggestions for new concepts.

The photographs will also be used in the development of the preliminary design and then the final portrait. If you provided print photographs, your photographs will be returned to you with the finished painting.

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