Skip to main content
Engagement Photo with Sam, Tracy and Miles

Tips to Survive a Photoshoot

So you’re doing a photoshoot? If you’re anything like me, just the word “photoshoot” makes you a bit uncomfortable – after all, as an equestrian your favorite picture is of you riding, when you didn’t know the photo was being taken. And even then, it comes with the caption “I look like a monkey humping a football, but look at my horse!” Or maybe that’s just me.
Either way, posing for photos is a special animal all unto itself. And engagement photos? Those are a whole different universe. Not big into PDA? Feel awkward being told to kiss in front of someone you just met 5 minutes ago? Yeah, you’re gonna LOVE engagement photoshoots!! So how do you survive this traumatizing experience, which I imagined would be like running full tilt across an advanced eventing cross country course? Here are my top tips – and if you follow a few, you might even come out on the other side with a few pictures you actually like… even without the horse.

#1: Choose your outfit carefully, and have multiple

There are pairs of jeans, and then there’s the one pair you have that you feel great in; wear the second pair! Pick clothes you feel comfortable and confident in because no matter how much you try to hide it, you’ll see the stiffness in the photos. After you go through the process of picking your favorite outfit, pick another one. Photography is fickle and sometimes your favorite outfit isn’t flattering from every angle or in every setting. So pick out all your clothes in advance and try them on. Make sure the shoes go with the necklace and that you didn’t magically grow out of that skirt you found in the back of your closet… ‘cause we all know that shrinking elves live back there and fuck up clothes that fit you last year… or maybe that’s just me.

#2 Don’t be afraid to try something different

While this tip applies to all photoshoots, it’s especially important for engagement sessions. Maybe you have tons of friends who have already gone through this, or maybe you don’t. But if you look through a few albums, you’ll notice that they all start to look the same. And it’s annoying. Everyone wants classic poses, I get it. But don’t be afraid to go outside the box a bit and try something. Everyone in Columbus goes to this downtown park and/or wears Ohio State swag at some point. And while I love Columbus, I don’t give a shit about the downtown park. And even though Sam and I met at Ohio State, I don’t need more pictures of us in scarlet and grey. So we went out to the barn – which was unique and different, plus has meaning for both of us… well, mostly me but Sam is indulgent.

#3 Be prepared to be awkward… and then ignore it

Yeah, it’s weird to meet someone for the first time and then have them direct you to makeout. But it’s going to happen so you might as well roll with it. Don’t let the big camera and huge lens freak you out – just pretend it’s a big oxer and your trainer is telling you “look past the fence and stretch up.” Laugh it off with your fiancé, make inappropriate jokes or just plain ignore instruction sometimes. In the end, these are your photos and you can make whatever faces and do whatever poses you damn well please.

#4 Get the digital rights

What the heck does that mean? It means that if the photos have a signature or watermark and you don’t have a piece of paper saying you have the right to reproduce the photos, nobody will print you copies because it’s illegal (creative copyright infringement and all that). So while some photographers will include this (like mine did, sans mark), others will charge extra, it’s totally worth it. I’ve had my photos back for a week and I just got 16 prints done at Walmart for $3. Four grandparents Christmas presents are now purchased for under $20, including the frame. You just can’t beat that!!

#5 Include your animals

This is my most valuable piece of advice: you all are animal lovers, just like me. So get photos taken with them! When I got the cost of this wedding photography package I nearly had a stroke. So to numb the pain, I decided I would make sure to get some photos I would actually want to hang on my walls and bring to work… which means all the animals get to come and play. So I did my shoot out at the barn (which, thankfully, helped me accomplish tip #2 as well) and I brought my dog, who has only been to the barn one other time in his life. It was a little stressful getting four of us ready, instead of just myself and my fiance, but it was so, so worth it. And here’s why:
pony nose

Gift Exchange Update & 10 Questions

I hope everyone had a fabulous weekend and stayed (relatively) warm! Pretty sure everywhere but Florida was cold and miserable… which just means that all you California girls get to feel my pain for a few days. You’ll find no sympathy from me!

Anyways, I sent out all the emails for the Equestrian Blogger Gift Exchange this morning, so get shopping!! Remember to send your gift out next week… or sooner if you’re so inclined and organized. If for some reason you did not get an email, contact me ASAP! I’m pretty sure I did everything right, but it is Monday morning.
I’m having an extra lesson tonight, so there’s not much to report until then. So here’s a few more random questions that I stole from Sandy-Ra over at ORS Dressage. I promise more substantial posts for the rest of the week!
pony nose

1. At what age did you learn to ride?

I first started riding in 4th grade – my first lessons were actually Christmas presents. I went with my best friend at the time, her mom and her neighbor. They drove me to every Saturday lesson for a long, long time. Until my mom realized she had made a big mistake ever letting me go in the first place and that I wasn’t giving it up… then she started to come to lessons every so often.

2. How old was the horse you learned to ride on?

I honestly don’t know – I rode several school horses growing up. The first horse I ever showed was Maggie, a stock-type mare who was older, probably in her teens. When I started 4-H I showed a pony, Jazz, who was also in his teens.

3. What is your favorite color of horse?

Oh man, this is a tough one for me. I really don’t dislike very many colors. Grey, bay, palomino, buckskin… they are all so pretty! For myself, if I could pick, I would love to own a beautiful rich, dark bay with lots of chrome. But just to look at, my favorites are tobiano… I just wouldn’t want to have to clean all that white, and we would really stand out in the hunter ring… not sure that at this point that would be a good thing for me!

4. How many times have you fallen off?

More than I can count! My worst fall was when I was learning to use a crop… nobody told me you had to take your hand off the reins and the horse I was riding reared and flipped over on top of me… somehow I was thrown from the saddle just far enough away to not be seriously injured.

My most recent fall was on Miles while I had him on trial: we trotted into a line with a crossrail and then a 2’3” oxer. He started to poop over the crossrail and didn’t canter until about two strides from the oxer. I should have pulled up or circled, but I didn’t, and we crashed through the jump and I rolled off his shoulder.

Quarter Horse Colorkey

5. What is your favorite breed?

I would have to say Quarter Horses, or crosses therein. I think that QHs have very amateur-friendly minds in general, are very versatile and athletic. Nowadays, they come in so many shapes and sizes, from foundation to Appendix, that they can suit any rider. I do really like Thoroughbreds as well, and I love that so many people are promoting this breed beyond racing. I just think that many are more suitable mounts for more experienced riders (they tend to be more sensitive, and some that come off the track require more knowledge to be retrained). But, of course, those are vast generalizations and there are many, many individuals who do not fit either of those molds!

6. What do you feed your horse?

Miles gets 1-1/4 scoop of Purina Strategy twice a day and 3 flakes of hay morning and night, plus 2 flakes of hay at lunch. Usually when I’m at the barn, I will throw him an extra flake or two though. We’re trying to gain some weight, so he gets to eat pretty much whatever he wants.

7. Supplements: yes or no?

I believe in feeding what your horse needs, but at the same time I don’t mind supplements if there’s a reason for them. Miles currently gets ProBios to help with his light diarrhea. Soon, I plan to put Miles on a joint supplement, as well. Much of the research done on joint supplements shows that they are most useful as a preventative measure and not as a way to fix an already existing issue.

Visa Geauga County Fair 2009

8. What disciplines do you ride in?

I currently ride Hunters, but I’ve ridden western as well. I just got tired of doing patterns and rail work all the time – jumping is more exciting!

9. Do you compete?

Yes! I’ve competed since I was in middle school, and it’s one of the things I love about riding. I don’t think I would feel complete if I couldn’t show ever again.

10. How many days a week do you usually ride?

I try to ride about five days a week, including one lesson. Sometimes it’s less, depending on how busy I am, but I hate missing too many days in a row!

Save The Date Option 3

Save the Date Debate

There’s been a lot going on in the land of wedding planning lately. Sam and I booked our last major vendor yesterday, and I’m finally feeling fairly organized. Dec. 30 is officially six months out — it’s come up quick!

So far, I’ve gotten a ton of great advice from friends and family, including this little treasure: buy Save the Date postcards, magnets, whatever your poison, from Etsy. So I perused the vast selection even before we got our engagement photos back. I picked out a few favorites, and decided that the engagement photo I liked best would decide which style of postcard I went with.

And then I got the photos back. And I couldn’t decide which picture I liked best! So I looked at the Etsy designs more and came to the realization that there was no way I was ever going to be happy with something anyone else designed. So I opened Photoshop and went wild.

Enter the great Save the Date Debate. To be fair, I brought this on myself. I went hog wild and designed not one, not two, but THREE Save the Dates. For one wedding. So I went through the gamut of family, friends and coworkers and by golly, I still have a freaking three-way tie.

So now it’s all up to you! Help me pick the best Save the Date, post in the comments with your favorite design so I can get these suckers printed and have guests at my wedding!

Option #1

Option #2

Option #3


Three Days Left to Join Gift Exchange

Happy Hump Day! We have 28 participants for the Equestrian Blogger Gift Exchange — can we get up to 30? There are still three days left to enter!

In case you missed the first announcement, here’s the jist:

Interested bloggers can email me the below info by Friday, Dec. 6 and I’ll randomly assign you someone to shop for! Send your gift out by Dec. 16 and post about your awesome surprise gift and how amazing the organizer is (okay, that second part isn’t mandatory!)

STEP 1: Send an email to tbidwell614(at)gmail(dot)com with your:

  • Name
  • Shipping address
  • Two gift ideas for yourself under $20 (to help your shopper)
  • Blog URL and
  • Whether you’d be willing to ship TO Canada or not

STEP 2: Check your email on Monday, December 9 to find out who you’ll be shopping for!

STEP 3: Send your gift out on the week of Dec. 16

STEP 4: Receive your gift and thank your fellow blogger

Thank you, Horse Nation.


Ariat Heritage Breeches Review

Product Review: Ariat Heritage Breeches

Things continue to be boring and unexciting in the land of Miles (although he did indeed get his pedicure yesterday). I’ve been pretty busy at work, planning for next year is in full gear and there just aren’t enough hours in the day it feel like. Add in wedding planning and the holidays (shopping, traveling, etc.) and I’m basically running around like a chicken with my head cut-off  (and begging for Hermione’s Time Turner).

But I still want to keep up my blog and reach my goal of at least 20 posts per month through the end of the year. So you get to suffer through a few random posts, but I’m hoping to have some exciting, pretty pictures to share later in the week!

Product Details

Size: 34 and 36
Retail Price: $94.95
What I Paid: $50.75 at
Purchased: Spring 2012

Read More