Judging by Melissa Shaw
The theme for June’s Photo Show was "The Great Outdoors," a theme that personally resonates with me. I grew up hiking, skiing, swimming and riding horses around the beautiful Pacific Northwest. There’s nothing more invigorating than a deep breath of fresh air under a clear blue sky – extra points if you’re taking that breath from a saddle!
As I scrolled through these wonderful contest entries, I was looking for images that evoked the same sense of wonder and adventure I always felt as I wandered through a lush green forest or gazed across the cascade mountains. I also wanted to see entries that were realistic and in which the horses and riders were correctly and safely presented. And boy, I was NOT disappointed! Let’s take a look at the highlights!
Kaitlyn B., CA
This photo immediately takes me back to a trail ride I took through Zion National Park during the summer of 1996. I am in awe of all the work that must have gone into this setup! Five fully tacked horses and outfitted riders, plus a canine friend! I love the angle of this photograph and they way they models are moving through the natural world. Time for me to book a vacation!
Allison A., GA
This is one of the most beautiful and serene model horse photos I have ever seen. I can almost feel the cool forest air and hear the gently rushing creek. I love the soft focus of the trees in the background and the way the sunlight glints off the water. It can be tricky to photograph models in water because they tend to look out of scale, but this photo gets it just right!
Madelyn N., IL
Here is a great example of a photo that is simple but effective. No props, no tack or riders – we don’t even see the horse’s entire body – but it WORKS. I love the lens flare of sun as it sets over the tree line. It takes a lot of patience to wait for the environment to cooperate with photo shoots but here it totally paid off!
Bella M., AK
What a unique perspective this photo captures! Unlike our third place entry, where we are marveling at the view along with the horse, here we get to see this adorable pair enjoying the view together. I love that the photographer chose to snap the picture from slightly below their subject. It really makes me feel like horse and handler are atop a loft overlook.
Grace R., OH
Another wonderful trail riding scene! I love the colt trotting along, enjoying the outing – what a cute addition he makes. As I’ve mentioned, it can be difficult to photograph models out in nature because the size of plants and other real-life elements can prevent the models from looking realistic, but this entry uses a creative angle to minimize that.
Dakota H., MT
I am completely captivated by this photo! The clouds are absolutely picture-perfect, and you couldn’t ask for a better set of waves for the composition of the picture. Nokota looks like he is really enjoying splashing about in the water – he is really a great choice of model for this type of photo. Looks like a lot fun!
Emma T., TN
I love the models chosen for this photo. They are perfect for a trail ride setting as well as the roles they’re playing in this particular outing. I’m also really impressed with the attention to detail with the equipment and posing of the dolls. Great job!
River L., CO
Wow, what a setup! It looks like I’m counting seven horses, four riders and two dogs setting up camp in this entry – a lot of effort went into this scene. I love the dogs running up to greet the new arrival and the inclusion of the bedrolls on the Appaloosa’s saddle is a very nice touch.
Grace S., CO
I have to include this photo because it is so soft and beautiful. The horse’s light gray coat looks lovely next to the grass and wildflowers and the mountain backdrop is stunning. You have a great eye for artistic composition!
Jaclyn M., ON, Canada
There is nothing I don’t love about this photo! The greenery in the background is blurred enough by the depth of field that the difference in scale is not a concern – and it allows us to focus on the scene at hand. The horses and riders are tacked up and outfitted appropriately, and I LOVE the detail of the horse trail signpost! This picture makes me want to saddle up and hit the trails as soon as possible!
Christina S., CO
There were many entries featuring a horse interacting with water, and this one is my favorite! For starters, the mountain backdrop is absolutely gorgeous and we can see just enough of the trees and grass to feel really immersed in the setting. Two important details made this photo the best of the water-centered entries: the horse is wading through a reasonable amount of water, AND the photographer is level with the model, making it look more realistic.
Kayla L., ME
Okay, I’m about to throw a sleeping bag and some bug repellant in my pack and head for a campground because LOOK at this charming setup! Not only did the photographer pay great attention to the details (I am loving that little fire pit and log) but the scale of the photo with the horses a little smaller and in the corner makes me feel like I’m out under a big sky and tall trees. Everyone looks relaxed and happy and ready for a s’more or two!
Rita T., CO
I can’t be the only one who gazes out the window on road trips thinking “I’d rather be cantering across that field on my horse right now.” This entry is a little simpler than our other two horse-and-rider entries but it perfectly captures the feeling of the breeze on your face and the sound of your horse’s hoofbeats. The horse looks like a pleasure to ride and I love the Border Collie’s enthusiasm.
Anna S., KY
It’s the middle of a very warm summer here in North America, but this picture makes me want to snuggle up in a cozy sweater with a cup of hot chocolate. Something about the color palette just says autumn to me – which is great because it’s my favorite season! This is a beautiful, soft image of a horse who is clearly loving his time in the outdoors!
Maddie M., FL
Speaking of horses enjoying themselves, this stunning Paint looks like he has decided to race the wind itself! What a beautiful photo of a powerful horse stretching his legs. It can be hard to photograph models in the grass because it so often tends to look out of scale, but this entrant uses a bare patch on the ground to their advantage. I especially love the unique angle of the horse – it really shows off his musculature and coat pattern.
Sondra H., IA
This photo is absolutely darling and features a cameo by one of my favorite critters – a frog! I’m not sure if the greenery in the background is grass or an algae covered pond, but either way, this is a perfect setting for a young horse to make a new friend! Very creative and cute use of the Grazing Foal mold.
Chelsea T., CA
There’s no better way to experience the great outdoors than with a good friend, and these two horses look like they are really enjoying one another’s company. I really like how the image composition has the pair not centered – visually it looks like they have more room to run, and they are spaced just right that we can see enough of each horse.
Amazing job everyone! You’ve all inspired me to work harder on my scene and performance setups, not to mention my photography skills. Right after I get back from that camping trip, that is. 😉