Fantasy Photo Shoot with Ashley Morgan Rhodes

If you like Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings or the new show Emerald City, you will LOVE Ashley’s portfolio. She is a model, horse trainer and breeds beautiful Friesian horses, raises Andalusians and of course LOVES fantasy photo shoots!

I met Ashley last year at Bartley Ranch at a horse expo. She and Leah Earle performed some Mounted Archery which grabbed my attention immediately. When I saw Ashley ride her Andalusian Stallion Thor and reared him up with her bow…OMG I couldn’t believe how beautiful they looked. I absolutely needed to photograph them! After her performance, I literally ran to her. She told me that she invites twice a year photographers for special photo shoots, so I was all ears! Unfortunately I couldn’t attend the one in June of 2016, so we scheduled another one later in Fall. I envisioned to do some sort of a Renaissance/ Game of Thrones kinda shoot and also wanted to get Michael Artemis involved with his HAWK Leonidis. I thought that would be epic and Ashley loved the idea working with a Hawk.

Later in September I scouted out a few areas at our local Galena State Park which is picturesque already by itself, and the colors were beyond magnificent! Finally my ideas came to life! Ashley also wanted to tie in a “Legend” shoot and brought a very fairytale looking like handmade Renaissance dress. There were two more photographers there – Nicole Sepulveda from Sacrament0 and Judy Solomon, another equinotographer.

Michael, Leonidis (Hawk) and Ashley meet for the first time.

Getting ready:

First we did some shots without Leonidis.

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Then we slowly introduced Leonidis to Xander, her horse.

We weren’t sure how Xander would react to the Hawk once he was on his back with Ashley, but surprisingly he did just fine. We took our time to ensure Ashley is comfortable and Michael, who is an expert in wild bird handling, was guiding Ashley of how to work with him.

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Ashley really enjoyed Leonidis and started to play and cuddle with him 🙂 I must say I was impressed of how long she could hold him on her arm! Here some more photos without the horse.

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By now it was 4 pm and we ran out of sunlight. So we rushed back to the trailers, Ashley changed into her gorgeous “Legend” Renaissance dress and Thor was made into a Unicorn 🙂

Here two edited final images. Since we were rushing to get to the location, I did forget my other wide angle lens, so my 70-200 didn’t do me any good because the space we had was extremely tied.

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I must admit that the MOST challenging part for me was the editing. I was soo excited to go home with 800! images and to start the edit, but when I went thru the images I was really disappointed in the quality. And I just couldn’t get the images to look the way I wanted to, so after many long agonizing hours and days of frustration and eye tiredness, I finally gave up and stopped working on them.

I don’t know what made me think of them this week, but I revisited the shoot and found a few images that I was quite happy with and started to edit . Maybe it was a new fresh eye, maybe my new super speedy laptop…I don’t know but at the sudden I see all these images and I went crazy. I edited the last two nights and these are the results. I do have a LOT more. The entire gallery will be added to my portfolio on my website shortly.

I hope you enjoyed the blog and photos as much as I did the photo shoot. Ashley is truly a professional model, easy to work with and a passionate horse trainer. Also a BIG thank you to Michael Artemis who came along with us and was open minded to my idea. If you ever need any info on Hawks and how to care for them, feel free and contact him. He is a Master of his craft.

As usual, any feedback is appreciated, good or constructive!

 

Bye Bye 2016

I have been really busy during the holiday season and the remaining time was spent with my family decorating the house, Christmas parties, making cookies among other things you do during Christmas. And I just now realized I have not written a blog for two months!

I started doing Holiday Photo Sessions with kids/ families and their horses two years ago and everyone just loved the idea. My slogan is…”You can’t bring your horse to JC Penney but I can come to you!” And this year my business during this time has more than doubled thanks to my repeated customers, word of mouth and social media. I loved seeing families getting dressed up, decorating their horses and falling slowly into the Christmas spirit. It’s always a lot of fun,  even if the weather is sometimes freezing cold. Here are some of my favorites:

 

In October I decided to create my first Horse Calendar for 2017 and it kept me busier than expected. From sourcing the right printing company, pricing & deciding on a specific design to choosing the quality of paper, it was definitely an interesting learning curve. At the end I was very happy the way it turned out and received really great feedback, people loved the spiral top and the glossy heavy paper it was printed on. I also decided to make a desktop calendar. There is still a limited amount available on my website.

 

I got extremely frustrated with my 7 year old laptop during that busy time because it just couldn’t keep up with the work load and the speed I needed to use my editing programs. Oh and it ran out of space! It was time to get a new one! So I asked Santa for a new one and he delivered!! Woohoo…so now I am in the middle of transferring my photo shoots, Photoshop and Light Room presets and everything else over…talk about time consuming!

I can’t wait what 2017 has in store for us, my family and my horse photography! I truly love what I do and am fortunate enough to have someone by my side that supports my vision and ideas 100%!

Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

My photo shoot with LeAnn

As I am writing this blog, LeAnn who will turn 19 yrs on Sept 5th, just joined the U.S. Airforce and is now going through the rigorous 8 week BMT- basic military training, located in Texas.

I truly love taking pictures at the beautiful Bartley Ranch, which offers a great diversity of backgrounds for portrait and equine photos. Along with LeAnn came Garrett, her boyfriend and Amanda, who assisted me behind the camera. Unfortunately LeAnn wasn’t able to bring her 11yr old mare “Bella” so I decided to bring my horse Broker so that we could still do some equine portraits.

Usually I arrive around 30min before my session to scout out the location, get some ideas for some shots, check out some background motives and see how the sun sets.

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LeAnn brought plenty of outfit options

After discussing our ideas for photos and deciding on the outfits, we started with simple head shots and full frame shots. By then it was 5pm, I just really loved how the sun set over the mountains and how it offered the perfect warm light.

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LeAnn was extremely easy to work with, a dream for every photographer. Her poses were just flowing and natural.

Then we moved down to an old historic shed with some farm equipment where I discovered an old wooden stand and thought we could use that for some cool couple’s shots.

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LeAnn, native of Reno now living in Fallon, NV just loves everything about horses. She follows “Buck” Brannaman’s training methods, has a heart for dressage, and enjoys the outdoors. Sometimes you might see her on a snowboard. Her goal is to go to Tech School for Fire Protection while serving in the Airforce. Garrett is currently enrolled at College in Walla Walla, WS and studies Applied Animal Science to become a Farrier.

To get certain poses and images with couples I like to tell stories to give them some ideas or ask them to imagine a specific scenario. In the top image, I used a bench and asked them to get comfortable as if they were alone and to dream into the sunset.

On the bottom left picture, I ask what they love to do together and they said dancing. So Garrett sweeped LeAnn off her feet 🙂 I loved that!

Now it was time for some equine shots! The sun was getting lower behind the mountains, so time was of the essence!

I must say, LeAnn really impressed me with how she handled Broker who is a 15yr old QH. He was the opposite of being relaxed for a shoot, even after some work out in the arena. For some people, it might be intimidating when a horse gets pushy and dominant, but she just had her natural way of staying calm and after a while he picked up on her energy and behavior. As we progressed through the photo shoot, I could see how Broker and LeAnn became a pair and shared a special connection. That was just amazing to witness. I just loved taking their photos!

 

 

As I shoot, I constantly check my camera to ensure all images are sharp. To get the best results for moving objects my camera is always set on continuous shooting, al servo with a high shutter speed, and back button focus! These are my secret ingredients to get great shots! I do take around 10-15 shots per pose or frame to ensure I have the perfect image.

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Now it was time for some pretty sunset pictures! I also tried a silhouette picture.

 

I think, they all three rocked it and looked like stars in the pictures! I hope, one day we can do a shoot with her mare Bella, that she adores so much! And Amanda was a trooper behind the camera, helping me with getting Broker’s undivided attention.

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Any questions about a photo shoot? Leave a comment here!