Eli first fell in love with photography when she discovered Tumblr in high school. She would spend hours looking at all the photos, and it later inspired her to start taking photos of almost everything! It then became a logical progression for Eli to combine her love for photography and horses, and so she started her equestrian Instagram back in 2017 - it was a place where Eli started posting anything and everything equestrian. Since then, Eli has amassed over 200k followers between her Instagram, TikTok and Youtube.
Below are some of Eli's top tips for getting started on social media and equestrian style.
For me, starting was the hardest part. I would worry too much about what others would think, whether anyone would actually like my content and if I had the right gear and equipment. I came to realise that none of this mattered - I wanted to make content that I liked and if others didn't like it ,that was okay, they didn't have to. I used my iPhone to take and upload all my photos for the first two years, so don't think you need an expensive camera to get started, because you don't.
So if you have ever considered posting about your horse or the horse you ride, take this as that little push you need to get started!
Getting the shot
Working with a live animal is both rewarding and challenging, especially when when they spook at a leaf blowing past in the wind! Luckily, my horse Enzo will rarely spook at anything. The first types of shots I started posting were from the ground, where I would stand next to the horse. For these types of photos, I would recommend looking in the same direction as your horse. This creates a sense of connection between you and your horse and looks pleasing to the eye. However, it often takes a lot of patience, perseverance and practice to get "the shot".
It's not just me in the shot, Enzo has to be looking good too. Getting a photo where his ears are forward, it's in focus, my eyes aren't closed or my hand isn't waving around from swatting a fly, takes time. My partner and photographer is incredibly patient and will often be seen throwing a hat or making silly noises to grab Enzo's attention to get the shot.
My favourite type of photos are definitely action shots; the ones where a single moment in time is captured. Whether it be cantering in dressage, jumping over that oxer in show jumping or clearing that hedge in cross country, I love them all. When trying to capture these shots, I strongly recommend taking as many photos as you can. This way, you can later scroll through your photos to find the best shot, the one where your horse's knees are tucked up to his chest as you clear a jump, or the exact moment your horse touches down after jumping a log. The more photos you take the easier it will be to get the shot you're after.
When taking any shot, lighting is everything. I find cloudy or overcast days the best for taking photos as the lighting is generally even and there are little to no shadows. Sometimes the photos require a little editing to really make the shot pop. Having good lighting is the best starting point and will expedite the editing process.
There are plenty of great free photo editing apps, including Snapseed, Afterlight and VSCO. You don't want to spend a lot of time editing, so find an editing app that you like and has a user friendly interface. Once you have found your editing app, YouTube will be your best friend in learning how to edit. Again, editing is something that will require practice and time. Remember all those extra photos you took when trying to get "the shot"? Instead of hitting the delete button right away, use these shots to practice your editing with and then keep practicing.
Finding your style
Your style will often change and evolve over time, but the type of personality and image you project through your photos will likely remain the same. I love posting photos in matching outfits and there is no denying that I am obsessed with this - a quick scroll of my Instagram feed is a dead giveaway. My love for matchy sets was inspired by other equestrians on Instagram. Although, it doesn't always have to be matching head to toe with the brushing boots, saddle pad, bonnet and your breeches and top. A simple outfit with a matching saddle pad can look stunning. You can most definitely do it on a budget, it doesn't always have to be one of the high end sets. Have a good google and do some window shopping, or even pop into your local stockfeeders - I have found some great matching sets at my local.
Finally, you should be posting photos that you like, not photos you think other people will like. There will always be someone that likes your photos. Being authentic allows people to get to know you, relate to you and ultimately connect with you. So, find your style, run with it and have fun!
- Eli x