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By Jennifer Werner McCarren on | No Comments
Do you believe in unicorns? Those who don’t believe will never find one!
Offering unicorn photography sessions can be a wonderful way to create some magic and excitement with your clients and their children and a GREAT way to attract new clients!
Childhood is filled with imagination and wonder - one of the reasons childhood so very special!! If you believe that unicorns can be real, so can they
So let’s make some magic come to life by turning a pony into a unicorn? You will be able to use the information in this tutorial to help guide you through the steps to make your next Unicorn Photoshoot a success.
There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to photographing animals with children. We will break this step down into several steps.
Your first order of business is to find and partner with a farm that has ponies and/or horses and also caters to children (assuming you don’t have your own ponies or horses). There are a lot of little farms that have horses and ponies that are very friendly and are used to being photographed. A lot of horses and ponies are used for therapy and these animals typically have a very passive and agreeable personality which is important when trying to set-up a unicorn session.
Working with horses and ponies takes a lot of patience. The ponies/horses you choose to work with need to be socialized and familiar with child interaction. I partner with a great little place called The Art Barn. They have the sweetest animals and staff and work with children on a daily basis, so it’s a perfect fit.
Of course the pony/horse will need a horn to re-create the magic of a unicorn. Unicorn horns typically attach to a horse's halter or bridle and may take some tweaking to get the best look and stay on properly. Once you purchase or make your own unicorn horn, test it to make sure it fits properly and stays on when the pony/horse moves around a bit.
Some unicorn horns are sold with flower crowns as a set, which look great too! If you choose to not purchase a horn that includes a flower crown, you may want to add some flower clips to the horse mane to add that extra special touch to your session.
If you are interested in the unicorn set featured here, you can order yours from Avry Couture Creations (NOTE: the farm handler did make modifications in order for the horn to be a stable set on our ponies).
Here are some other potential unicorn horn options as well:
Since these unicorn photo sessions are so specialized, its generally a good idea to plan the outfits for the day of the session. If the unicorn horn comes with a flower accessory, you should plan to coordinate your clients outfit colors with the colors incorporated with the unicorn horn set.
Whimsical dresses work really well for the girls at these sessions and boys are adorable in little suits or suspender sets. Pastel colors allow for really soft and dreamy edits but bright colors can be a lot of fun too. Tutu DuMonde may provide some inspiration for your princess dresses. If you want someting even more high-end, you can try dress vendors like Alora Safari or Ella Dynae.
Now, that we have our clients dressed to impress, we need to focus on illuminating the magic. A good way to guarantee good light is to host the session around golden hour (either the first 1.5 hours after sunrise or 1.5 hours before sunset).
Another option may be to use an area of even and open shade. What do I mean by that? You don't want shade that is in complete darkness. You need an area that still has soft shaded light coming in. The light coming in needs to be mostly even as well - so that it will not cast heavy shadows on your clients.
It is so important to target this type of light so that you are not distracted by spotty light that forces you to move your subjects around. Engaging and posing your subjects will keep you busy enough. If you focus on finding a good lighting situation, you will be able to capture that whimsical and magical light in your photos.
You can also incorporate some beautiful effects in post processing! I love to use Photoshop Actions and Overlays from Pretty Actions to add Light Leaks, Fairy Dust & Fairy Wings, Sun Glows, Bubbles and even Fog to add that special touch!
Due to the complexities of photographing children and large animals, its important to host a test session first. Working with large animals is no joke and you should have a trained professionals on-site while these sessions are going on. It is definitely worth it to have a pony handler with you throughout the entire session. They can help to get the horse's head up for images and adjust the horses posture as needed for more flattering poses.
Its also a good idea to give the horses a break when needed or if they become agitated. And if its ok with the farm handler, you can bring the ponies/horses a carrot or two. They will love it.
Unicorn photoshoots typically do not last too long and that helps to keep the pony's attention span. During the test session, focus on where the horse will stand and what two to three positions you will want to guide the child into.
Plan to have the horse all prepped and ready before you introduce the child. The pony/horse can become agitated after a while so plan for about 20 minutes of shooting at the most. This means you need to have all your prep work done beforehand: exact locations identified, child poses thought out, etc.
Pricing is definitely something to consider for unicorn photo sessions. You will potentially be paying a fee to use the farm and paying a handler to help during the photoshoot.
If the horse is tolerant for a longer period of time, it can be a good idea to schedule a small block of mini-sessions to help with profitability. Maybe you can squeeze in 3-4 sessions before the pony tires out. Or maybe you can give the pony a small break after a few sessions to allow you to squeeze in a few more after the break.
Remember, when photographing magical unicorn photography sessions, you are not only there to capture images of the child but ALSO capture the WONDER AND CONNECTION between the child and unicorn. If you help guide the child to see all the magic around them, you will surely capture something beautiful!
Do you have any questions or comments about Unicorn Photography Sessions? Leave us a comment below - we would LOVE to hear from you! And PLEASE SHARE this post using the social sharing buttons (we really appreciate it)!
I am a North Atlanta photographer living in Roswell, GA with my husband and our three sweet and high-energy boys. My husband and sons are first and foremost the loves of my life and the inspiration for my family and child photography.