What’s in a Photo? Selfies vs. Portraits, Candids vs. Show Photos

Helpful Tips

April 4, 2022

back to blog

Do you know why photographs matter? Think about the last time you experienced a fun day at a show, accomplished a major feat with your horse while schooling at home or just wanted to mark a beautiful moment you spent out on the trails with friends. 

I’m willing to bet at any one of those moments, you grabbed your phone and took a selfie or a photo, just so you could keep that memory forever in your pocket or at the tips of your fingers. That’s the beauty of the selfie and the cell phone snap – but in reality, that’s the beauty of photographs, period. 

Whether they end up staying on your phone’s memory card, printed and pinned to your bulletin board or beautifully framed and displayed in your home, photographs give you the opportunity to preserve a moment forever. No matter how you define magic, I think we can all agree that’s a kind of enchantment. And as an equestrian photographer, I still get giddy at the realization that I deal in that kind of magic every day. 

Just like you, I love taking photos with my phone in my everyday life; my camera roll is just thousands upon thousands of pictures of Herbie. Of course, I love wielding my actual camera too—if you’ve had a session with me, I know you remember those moments when I paused, looked down at my camera and exclaimed “Oh. My. GO-SH!!!” before rushing over to show you the gorgeousness we created. That’s because no matter how many pictures I take of you and your horse, I sometimes *still* can’t believe this is my job. I mean, I get paid to cast magic spells with my camera. Who else is so lucky?!

But there’s a major difference between the photos I take with my phone and the photos I take with my camera, and I don’t just mean in resolution or pixels or clarity (although that’s a huge part of it! Just try printing a cell phone photo and then comparing it to a camera photo… you’ll know what I mean). 

Portraits, candid ringside images and show photos are a different kind of magic spell, and it’s the kind that I’ve worked for years to earn the ability to cast. To show you what I mean, I thought I’d take a moment to compare them. (Brace yourself: lots of photos of pretty ponies are coming!)


Portrait Sessions

Portrait sessions—whether Horse & Rider or Fine Art (black backgrounds)—are some of my favorite things to do, and that’s because they’re all about you, your horse and the beautiful partnership you share. You’re most yourself when you’re with your horse, and I can’t think of a better moment to preserve forever in the life of a horse girl than that.



Formal portrait sessions are also the perfect time for you to give yourself some self-care. You know you’re about to spend time in front of the camera, so why not make it count? Take the day off work, dress up in your favorite outfit, get your hair styled, splurge on that makeup you never wear or grab those amazing heels out of your closet. You won’t regret it.



Show Moments

Don’t get me started on how much I love show candids, or we’ll never get out of here. Seriously, I adore taking show candids almost as much as I love portrait sessions, and here’s why. Unlike formal portraits or show photos, show candids are those moments when you aren’t thinking about my camera. You might be looking down at your horse while you’re waiting for your turn in the ring, or spending a moment stroking that gleaming neck and thinking how lucky you are. Meanwhile, I’m over here just waiting to catch that unconscious look of love and pride on your face.

While formal portrait sessions capture you at your posed and perfect best, show candids capture you and your horse when you’re most in your element—and that makes my heart really, really happy.



Finally, show pictures are all in the timing. If candids show you and your horse in your element, show photos are those moments when you’re at your peak together: soaring over a fence with your horse’s knees tucked neatly up under his chin, sliding into a plus-one stop with billows of dust flying around you or executing a picture-perfect horsemanship pattern. Show pictures are priceless because they sum up the years of practice and the buckets of blood, sweat and tears that you’ve poured into your horse, and you just can’t do those kinds of moments justice with a cell phone photo.



Don’t get me wrong. As much as I adore taking photos of my own horse with my camera, I still whip out my cell phone for those spur-of-the-moment snaps (and I save every blurry blown out photo I take of my Herbie!). There will always be a time and place for cell phone photos. After all, we’ve got magic in our pockets and in our hands, so we gotta put it to good use. But when you’re ready to book your own personal portrait session with me, I’ll be ready to cast a special magic spell just for you.

share this post: