Equipment: If you are shooting with a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) Camera, be sure to have your camera set to capture and save files at the largest (or finest) setting. If using a fixed lens camera or a cell phone, be sure to be as close to the subject as possible to fill the frame. That will ensure you are capturing the most data for later enlarging. The best shots are taken with cameras dedicated to taking photos. We rarely can use a photo taken by a cell phone camera.
Send us the photos without resizing, retouching or otherwise altering the image. If there is work needed to improve the photo we prefer to do it ourselves.
Minimum size requirement for a large photo in the calendar is 2300 x 1800 pixels (9.5 x 12 inches at 200 dpi) after cropping.
Lighting: The basic rule of thumb is to always have the sun behind the photographer. This puts the light on the subject. When the sun is in front of the photographer the subject is shaded, and detail of the subject is lost.
Photos taken when the sun is out are more interesting, brighter, and more colorful than those taken when it is overcast or gloomy. Usually you might just as well forget about it if it is a gloomy day.
Backgrounds: Unless you are shooting a scenic shot, backgrounds should be uncluttered. Cluttered or busy backgrounds distract from the subject. A different camera angle or moving to a different spot can often eliminate a bad background. If the background cannot be eliminated try using a telephoto lens -- this will tend to throw the background out of focus..
The Subject: There are basically two type of photos, scenics and subjects. On a scenic photo the horse is a relatively small part of the photo, and the countryside (flowers, mountains, fall color, etc.) are what make it a good photo. We use a few scenics, but not very many.
Most of the shots we use are closeups of the horses. The most common mistake photographers make is to be too far away from the subject. It is very important that you "fill the frame (viewfinder)" with the subject in order that there is enough detail on the picture to make it interesting.
That said, be careful not to crop out parts of the turnout. We won't use photos where the ears of the horse, or its hooves are cut off in the photo. We rarely use head-shots or other extreme closeups.
We are looking for candid shots, not posed shots. We seldom pick a shot where the horses and/or the people are standing, looking at the camera. Instead we like to use photos where the horses and people are going about their business, unaware of the presence of a photographer.
Technical Considerations: The photo must be focused properly and exposed properly. Photos which are out-of-focus, blurred due to camera movement, or are improperly exposed cannot be used.
It's not easy to get a good shot. We know – we're trying all the time. That's why it is important to take lots of pictures. We're happy when we get just one good shot from an event. We usually take several hundreds of photos in each situation. That way we have a better chance to get a shot where the ears are forward, the legs are together, the light is right, etc. And when everything comes together, it's lots of fun. Good luck!
— Joe Mischka