Behind the Scenes – 2015 Fall Horse Photography Workshop

November 06, 2015 / Elk Creek CA

The MCR Fall 2015 Photography Workshop was an amazing experience sharing the horses with other photographers. Even though we are among the herd every day, we rarely take the time to photograph them at the perfect time of day in the perfect light.

MCR is nestled in a beautiful valley about 45 minutes from the interstate. Minutes after you exit Interstate 5, the drive opens up to pastures, valleys, rolling hills and beautiful foothill climbs. Everywhere you look is a photo opportunity. A variety of wildlife can be seen as you drive the 20-minute dirt road to the ranch.


It is our job to help you get the perfect shot. We chase the early morning light and evening light daily. By changing feed schedules and feeding locations we can gently move the horses in and out of optimal photo locations. It feels a bit like a safari as you explore the beautiful 2000 acres in the ATV. Because we feed from the ATV, most of the horses aren’t afraid and get very close to you. We found this to be a great opportunity for close ups.

Observing the herd is the most exciting to us because we know where the horses came from and why they choose particular groups of horses over the others. We share these stories with you. Each horse has a name, and a personality. Each day is different because the more we interact with the herds; the more they play and move. They are rarely in the same location, giving us many different backdrops throughout the ranch.

One observation at MCR is the fact that ‘like colors’ stick together. The grays, the paints, the duns, and the grullas…they all seem to be segregated. It’s so much fun watching them run past you in the pasture – groups of like colors splashing over the field.

Lighting and location are key – the fun challenge is to get you into that perfect spot where the herd runs by you with that beautiful rim light illuminating the manes flowing in the wind. When back in the classroom, it’s always fun to share the different angles and perspectives of the same shot.

When we’re not in the classroom and it’s not the optimal time of day, we have burros and yearlings in pastures close to the ranch. This is playtime and a great opportunity to get in a few snuggles and selfies. Another great photo opportunity is watching our trainers work with horses in the arena.

We shoot next to you, move the horses for you and help you with your optimal camera settings to ensure you get ‘the shot’. But to be honest, we’re having so much fun ‘playing’ with the horses we sometimes forget we’re actually working!

Please see my next entry for what we can capture at MCR.

A special thanks to Ellie Phipps Price for hosting this photography workshop and contributing to this image collection.  She’s becoming a great photographer!

Photo credits to all of the photos above are given to:

Kathleen Harrison – Kathleen Harrison Photography

Alicia Beradi – Ivy Photography

Tara Arrowood – Arrowood Photography

Ellie Phipps Price

Natalie Price