Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Day in the Life of a Show Photographer

A Day in the Life of a Horse Show Photographer
I wanted to share this little glimpse into my life as Official show photographer because many people who have attended my Equine Photography Workshops have aspirations of one day following my career path. And becoming a full time Equine Photographer.
A way of life I can wholeheartedly recommend if you love to work outdoors with horses and their people.
I am also planning a competition in which you can enter to win a day with me
And Be a “Show Photographer for the Day”
OK the day starts bright and early -
• We arrive around half an hour before the show starts to check in with the show secretary and get the “Day sheets” these tell us what is going on in each ring and at what times. They will also indicate whether there will be a break for lunch (very important)
• Set up a display table - with samples of work and information
• Next - eat a hearty breakfast – this might be the only meal you get, and take a large coffee to go (make sure you have a wide bottomed travel mug that wont tip over on grass) The condition of the available bathrooms will determine how many times you refill your coffee.
• Apply liberal amounts of sun screen and bug spray – and don a wide brimmed hat. The hat is very useful to throw in the air to attract a horses attention, just be careful not to spook the horse - or you might be taking pictures of the North end of a South bound animal.
• OK now you have to decide where to start - My objective is to photograph everybody doing something spectacular. This decision is not as hard as it seems as the set up of the rings and the direction of the sun will pretty much determine where you can start.
• Introduce your self to the judge in each ring and establish the guide lines as to where they will allow you to shoot from. We do not want to be a distraction to either the judges or the riders.
• Now we are in place at the side of the ring time to do a few equipment checks and exposure readings to determine what camera settings will work best for the day ( each day is different and the lighting conditions change throughout the day) especially in Alberta it can start out sunny and end up snowing . All of which you have to adjust for to ensure you capture all the action.
• OK its show time
• At jumping shows I will very often walk the course to establish which jumps are going to be my target jumps and also to learn which direction the riders will be heading once they land.
• For the next 8 – 10 hours I watch – aim and click
• Then there are the special awards and Championship photos – these are very important and great care must be taken to pose both the horse and sponsors in a flattering way.
• And the show is over for the day so I pack up my display and head off home
• However my work is far from over now I have to download all the images usually around 1400 from an average show ( more if it’s a dressage event)
• Then I start the process of editing and preparing them for viewing on my web site for sale
Its not a very glamerous job I am on my feet all day and very often running from ring to ring. Or sometimes to get “The Shot” I am sitting in the muck ( this is very often the case at the Rodeo).
However the thrill of capturing all the action and being an integral part of the Show is extremely rewarding . I personally couldn’t think of any other way I would rather spend my days.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Rejuvonate your passion for photography with an exciting project

There’s nothing like a new photo project to either jumpstart your photo career or to help you learn how to improve. Projects keep you shooting with purpose, and help you avoid slipping into a malaise.
Here are five steps to developing a good photographic project. Oh, and I’m also throwing in some project ideas to get you down the road.
Five Steps
1. Focus, Focus, Focus
I am not talking autofocus, I am talking clear and concise goals. Shoot tight. Stay on task. Don’t be sidetracked by every pretty thing. Keep your project tightly defined and focused.
2. KISS – Keep it Simple Stupid
Don’t over think this. Don’t make it unnecessarily hard. Do just the opposite. Keep it simple. Make it as easy as can be. If you accomplish number one on this list, number two comes easier.
3. Good Projects Are as Much About Exclusion as Inclusion
Knowing what you want to shoot is important. But LIMITING what you shoot is more important. Exclude as much as you can during your project. Only include the bare minimum you need to tell your photographic story. Try to make sure that every picture has no more than one single focal point and no more than two supporting focal points.
4. Look at Current Magazines
Look at the current trends in magazines and then use these to influence your project. Award yourself a self-assignment based on what you see. Then convert it to match your own style and vision, and go shoot.
5. Shoot Every Day
Shooting every day forces you to really get to know your gear and your subject matter. Letting too much time pass between shoots for your project can tempt you to go off track. Stay focused and shoot every day.
Project Ideas
a. Signs
b. Shapes
c. Colors
d. Strangers
e. Juxtaposition

Friday, November 5, 2010

Words of Wisdom

If only I knew then what I knew now!
At the risk of sounding like my mother, and dear God realizing maybe she did know a thing or two. The sentiment, If only I knew then what I knew now really resonates with me.
Whilst pondering this, I wondered
What advice would I give the “16 year old me” – if I could go back in time?
I also posed this question to some of my friends and here are their
Words of Wisdom
HorseFeathers EquestrianApparel; Listen to the people that love you the most they have been there done that.
Rochelle Worden; Brush and floss 2 times every day
Jamie DeHart; Don't be in such a hurry to grow up. Don't be afraid to act goofy. Don't be afraid to say no to anything. You can always change your mind later. Talk to as many people as you can about their life, their jobs.
Shelane Chaddick Rierson; Pay attention to the people that count and dont stress about the rest! And never listen to anyone that tell you "you cant".
Kelly Rand; Dont rush into having chldren, even though most of your friend in the next cuple of years most likely are ... (i love my two girls to bit, but waiting a few more years to have them wouldn't of hurt, because at the age of 21 i don't have much of a socail life and will have to wait til there older, for me to do some of the 'teenage 18/19' things your ment to do, have fun, live life, pass your driving test, get a good job, see the world, find the love of your life get a nice house and then have kids
Julie Golden Stables You can do or be anything you want. Live up to your own expectations and try to impress no-one but yourself.
Rachael Fiore-Peck; Always stay true to yourself!!
Tracey Bavinton; Take opportunities that are presented to you. Don't second guess decisions you know in your heart to be right
Victoria Nargiel; Love and respect your parents!! They really do know what they're talking about. And don't try and grow up so fast! You'll really come to miss your teenage years if you don't cherish them. And one last bit of advice.. Stay away from drugs, cigarettes and alcohol! No matter how 'fun' it may seem, its not worth it at all!
Trixi Frederick; Do not let fear or other people stop you from trying, have faith and believe in yourself, strive to be the best you can be and for heavens sake...don't allow yourself to become the "victim" of all things gone wrong!! Xoxo
Victoria Nargiel; Oh and stay in school! You'll regret it if you don't!
My words of advice would be - Just because you have never done something before - doesnt mean you cant do it, and a realization that came to me many years after my 16th birthday - God has more Faith in me than I have in myself, and has always provided the tools, people, resources to handle whatever life threw my way.

But the real question is would the 16 year old me have listened?
Probably not - after all at 16 you officially know it all

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Top Photo Locations in Edmonton

Top Photo Locations in Edmonton

One question I get asked quite often is, "Where should we go for our portraits?" To help with planning your outdoor portraits or family photo session, here are a few suggested photo locations from Edmonton and area, including both indoor and outdoor spots for great pictures. Of course this is by no means an exhaustive list, but it is a great place to start! If you have other suggestions please let me know
My personal favorite photo back drop is the Whitemud Park
There are some great locations - interesting trails, bridges and access to the river front - the going is sometimes a little uneven so wear comfortable shoes.
Great opportunities whatever the season
Alberta Legislature
(Outdoors open free to the public; indoor photographs are not permitted.)

The Alberta Legislature grounds is one of the most popular - and populated - parks in the city. With amazing variety of mature trees, beautiful architecture and plentiful flowers there are abundant photo opportunities here. There are often other weddings on the grounds as well as tourists, but there is so much space this rarely creates a problem.
Some of these location charge a fee, for formal photo shoots like weddings so please check out their appropriate web sites to see their rules and regulations regarding formal photo shoots
Royal Alberta Museum & Government House
Contact: Administration at (780) 453-9100

The Museum grounds and the Government House are very popular for wedding photos. An excellent blend of landscaping and architecture provide lots of visual variety within a relatively small area. This is a public park, so there is no charge to use the grounds or building exteriors for portraits.
Citadel Theatre
Contact: Administration at (780) 426-4811

The Citadel theatre has a large indoor garden featuring an upstairs lake and a waterfall wall. An atrium upstairs may be rented for indoor ceremonies. Daytime sessions are best as most of the interior light comes from their large windows.
Edmonton City Hall
Booking Clerk: (780) 944-7740

City Hall is a beautifully designed building with a selection of railings, pillars, staircases and smaller features which keep portrait backgrounds interesting. A high-key (light) colour scheme dominates most of the interior. Most days the interior is fairly quiet although on a nice summer day the fountains outside do attract waders.
Devonian Botanic Gardens
Contact: Bookings at (780) 987-2496

Although this is an outdoor-only location - and a bit of a drive too - the Devonian Gardens provides almost unparalleled beauty and variety. The Japanese Garden is the most popular section, featuring a waterfall, bridge, lake (with stepping stones), walkways, and varied foliage for a wonderful variety of beautiful photo locations.
Fort Edmonton Park
Photos site -
Contact: Phone: (780) 496-8787

For a stunning historical look to your portraits Fort Edmonton offers an amazing variety of beautiful locations. The river valley setting and the many different faces of this facility add a unique character to your portraits. Some churches and buildings on the grounds can be booked to add character to your ceremony or reception.
John Janzen Nature Center
Phone: (780) 496-2925
Located right next to Fort Edmonton Park, the Nature Center offers a varied natural parkland for beautiful photo opportunities. A bridge leading over a small pond leads into a system of nature trails which are great places to spend some time exploring - and taking pictures!
Muttart Conservatory
Contact: Bookings at (780) 442-5311 or
Cost: see details on website
Beautiful any time of year, the Muttart Conservatory contains four indoor gardens of differing style. Lots of flowers, indoor waterways and bridges, and paths through the greenery make for excellent photographs. You may book this location for your portraits or your entire ceremony and reception, but call early as it is popular and books up fast.
I have used the grounds for family photos and pet portraits
Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village
Guided Tour
Contact: (780) 662-3640 or email

Very few locations in the Edmonton area bring out the sense of history and beauty that you will find at the Ukranian Village. Just 20 minutes from Edmonton city limits, the trip is very reasonable and the results are worth it. Beautiful historic churches to host your wedding ceremony, unique photo opportunities and a rich historical character to the park all make for an enjoyable visit.
Outdoor Locations that are also lots of fun
Here's a brief list of alternative ideas you may wish to consider!
- Alberta Railway Museum -
- Celtic Hall -
- Windship Aviation (Hot Air Balloons) -
- Edmonton Valley Zoo -
- Ukranian Cultural Heritage Village -
- Edmonton Queen Riverboat -
- John Walter Museum -
- Edmonton Aviation Museum -
Corn maze - is a seasonal location but offers lots of unique opportunities
City Golf courses – please contact each one individually to get permission and enquire about their booking and fee structure .
City Parks - there are oodles of parks throughout Edmonton usually one in each small community
Lets use Edmonton as the perfect photo back drop
for photo packages and pricing

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

New Year in November

New Year In November

Ok – I know I am early and some would say I missed the fun Christmas season and am going straight to the
Gut churning life changing decisions we all make on Jan 1st
Yes its only 60 days till “New Years Resolution” time
So I say to make this a whole lot easier lets do it in November.
I am not talking about the lose 10 - 20 - 100 pounds before summer kind of resolution.
I am thinking in terms of what direction you want your life or business to go in 2011
So you see the long cold November nights are a perfect time to start making plans for next year.
I like to do a post mortem (evaluations) on my last year
I look at all the various work and promotional activities and really examine
What worked and what could have gone better – There are no failures - just opportunities to learn and do better next time.
You will be surprised at what new ideas and opportunities present them selves from this simple - paper and pen (glass of wine optional) excersise.
Once you have identified areas of your life/ business that need change it is easy to start planning how, Come January you can make those changes.
Personally – I want to teach more equine photography and marketing courses - I would like to travel to warmer places to do this during Alberta’s long cold winter.
SO now I have a goal it is easy to figure out the steps to make it a reality.
1. Find equine associations/ clubs in Arizona, Texas, New Mexico to partner with.
2. Set a date for the workshop
3. Create support marketing materials for new partners
4. Get on a plane / taxi / teach the class

Details of my “Equine photography workshop” is on line at
The beauty of New Year in November is there is no need to take physical action now after all we have 60 days in which to create a workable plan. Removing all the stress and panic of “Oh my God – Next Year has to be better”
So please join me for “New Year in November”

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tips for Photographing Horses

My name is Linda Finstad and I think I have the best job in the world.
I am a full time equine photographer - I spend my days capturing the natural beauty and elegance of Horses. Equine photography is more than a job it is also my passion and one, which I love to share with others. I offer Equine Photography workshops where photographers of all ages and skill levels can learn how to take amazing shots of their favorite animals.
I've picked up a few tricks for equine photography over the years. It's a deep subject that would take a full-fledged book to present thoroughly, but I will try to offer a few tips that will help you avoid the worst mistakes.
Because horses are so large, it is necessary to get back at least 15 or 20 feet to prevent distortion, and a camera with a telephoto lens is a great help. Otherwise, keep your distance, and enlarge the prints if necessary. If you get too close, and say it's a head-on shot, the animal’s nose and face will be huge, and the rest of the body will appear quite small.

Natural Framing
Unless you are taking a registration photograph try to avoid standing your horse up against a plain barn wall
Instead look for places around the yard that will create a natural frame - like an overhanging tree or position your horse in a gate way even long grass can be used to frame and add interest to your pictures.
Pictures of horses in bright yellow canola fields always look stunning –
Be sure to ask permission from the farmer first.

Time of Day
I often get asked what time of day is best for equine photography
My simple answer is anytime that the sun is shining.
Sunshine adds contour and texture to a horses coat and muscles giving your final picture a three dimensional appearance. In harsh sunlight’s a black horse will gleam and look stunning.
Dull overcast skies produce dull flat pictures and your black horse will just look like a blob on the page with no definition to his form.
There is also something know to photographers as the “Golden Hour” this is the time just before sunset - not necessarily an hour, this very special lighting might only last for 10 to 15 minutes, just as the sun goes down your photographs will take on a beautiful golden glow. This is especially beautiful in the Fall as the autumn tones in the leaves will be enhanced.

Best Angle
On all shots, either have your camera level to or slightly lower than the horse (you may have to kneel down.) Do NOT take pictures where the animal is on lower ground than you are. It makes his legs look short, and his back will not look good! It's just an unattractive view.
Make sure your horse is standing on level ground and not with his front feet in a dip, as this will affect his top line. If you have to make a choice on uneven ground, always place your horse so he is standing up hill rather than down hill - he will look taller and more imposing.

Action Shots
To capture crisp sharp photographs of moving horses you need to have a fast shutter speed and lots of light.
Trying to capture action shots in an indoor arena is notoriously hard (even for the Pro’s) as there usually is just not enough light to allow your camera to obtain a fast enough
Shutter speed.
It takes a little bit of pre planning, to give your self the best chance of capturing the action. You need to make sure you are in the right place and anticipate the right time to click the shutter.
Fortunately for the photographer, most people don’t go over a jump just one time, if you hang out in the warm up area you will see trainers with their students practicing over the same fence several times. Giving you plenty of chances to get “The shot”
This is also true of most equestrian sports – there is always a pre competition warm up time. This is the place for budding equine photographers to hone their skills.
Here is a great tip!
If you are unsure where the best place around the arena is to take your shot from - go and stand near the Show Photographer – She knows all the best angles.
A word of caution - Please stay safe and don’t get in anyone’s way the collecting area can be a dangerous place.