Ask any photographer what time of day they prefer to shoot and a lot of them will tell you sunset. Personally, I prefer sunrise. There's something special about seeing the first light of a brand new day, and the amazing colors it casts across the land. This is especially true in Arizona. When the sun creeps over the mountains and illuminates the different hues of red, orange, and green of our desert landscape it's a sight to be seen. Now, put a beautiful girl and her horse into that scene and you have a recipe for the perfect photoshoot!
As a photographer it's important to be constantly shooting. Test shoots are a very useful way to do this. I had just finished up a very busy month of commissioned work, so when I got the call to come shoot with Alex and immediately jumped at the opportunity. I needed a bit of creative freedom to try whatever I wanted, not to mention I had never shot anyone with a horse before, making this test shoot a win win.
The shoot took place down at the lower Salt River, which is known for having wild horses (THE Salt River Horses) to roam around. We hoped they might make an appearance and they did not disappoint.
Even though I love to shoot at sunrise, it's tough to get up at 3am. But, once we made it to the river and saw the amazing light coming over the mountains and through the trees I forgot all about being tired. As the day moved on and the light got a bit harsher I busted out my Profoto B1 and put the high speed sync (HSS) to the test. This worried me a little since you never know how horses will react to strobes flashing at them. Luckily Joker was very well behaved, (besides eating all the tall grass in my scene lol).
There was one shot I was really looking forward to setting up, the bow shot. I love the photo Annie Leibovitz took for her Disney Princesses series of the character from Brave, so knowing Alex is a trained mounted archer presented me with the opportunity to get my own bow and arrow shot! What was great about working with Alex is, occasionally I would tell her to do something with the bow and she'd correct me and say it's not how it's really done. This kept things authentic, that way if anyone in the archery community were to see the photo they wouldn't immediately say FAKE! Being someone who shoots a lot of active lifestyle / fitness work I always try to stay authentic, which is why when you shoot with me, you get a real workout in!
Towards the end of our shoot we were lucky enough to witness two groups of feral horses come right up to us, and we even managed to get a few shots with them in the frame. Overall, I'm extremely satisfied with the results of the shoot. Both Alex and Joker performed beautifully, and I cant wait to get back to this location for another sunrise!