The World of Living with Horses

Interview with Julie Patton – Professional Photographer

Horse photographer Julie Patton, a longtime horse owner, has a degree in equine science and was breeding manager on a farm for several years. Here she shares memorable moments in her career and lessons for photographing your horse.

How did you start in this business?
When we moved to Colorado to raise our kids in a more rural lifestyle, I needed to find something to do that didn’t force me to spend summers in the barn and away from my kids. Photography was my second calling and it was a natural transition for me to photograph horses. Knowing horses makes me uniquely suited to photograph them. It enables me to capture horses at their best. Being able to read the horses, to know how they’re going to react, what they’re going to like or not like and what keeps them happy is important. Understanding conformation, breed attributes and personalities helps me make each shoot successful.

What is your greatest challenge?
Working within the parameters that nature provides and working within the capacity of the horse. It’s a balancing act. I like to use a lot of back-lighting in my shots and it can be hard waiting for the right light — that treasured “golden hour.”


What is your favorite environment in which to work?
One where I’m respected and anticipated; where the horses and people are ready and they have enough help. The best environment is one where people are mindful of my time and what we need to accomplish.

One of my favorite things to photograph is women with their horses. Everyone has win pictures from center ring. Why not have an amazing image of you and your horse where you both look great? I want the image to be romantic and beautiful and capture bond between the woman and her horse.

What type of equipment do you use?
Canon 5d MarkII with a 70-200mm F2.8 IS (image stabilization) lens. It enables me to get a crisp, accurate shot, while being able to maneuver around a horse. It’s also a rugged lens — important for shooting in the field.

What is your one unforgettable moment or image?

The first shoot I did with the Arabian stallion KM Bugatti and his owner, Kristi Waters. Kristi had owned Bugatti since he was a yearling and had seen him through numerous national champion titles. She recently moved him to a private barn and took him out of training. This was the first time she had done a shoot preparing and handling her own horse. She did it all herself and the results were incredible. The bond between that stallion and his owner is so magnetic and palpable; it really resonated through the images.


What would you say to someone just starting out?
Learn as much as much as you can and be as good as you can. There are way too many mediocre photographers out there; you’ve got to set yourself apart from the rest, set yourself up legitimately, charge for what you do and own it. I went through the process to be a Certified Professional Photographer. It’s a long, grueling process. You have to pass an extensive, 3-hour exam and submit a gallery of images to a panel of judges. All the images have to be approved. It was important to me, because I then had that seal of approval and knew that I had the knowledge and the skill set to back it up. I’m hoping that more people will recognize that designation and will gravitate towards those of us who are certified.


What is your one best piece of advice when photographing horses?
Know horses in general before you start. Be able to read each horse; know how hard you can push to get the look you want without creating fear. I don’t like it when horses look scared; I don’t think owners want that either. Just like with people, keep horses happy.

ACAD invites our readers to discuss your photography experiences and to ask Julie about any challenges you may have when capturing horses with your camera. Please post your comments to this interview. You can also contact Julie on Facebook:

More on Julie Patton:

Born across the pond in London, England, Julie was raised in the southwest deserts of New Mexico and Arizona. Always having a passion for horses, she studied equine science at Colorado State University and naturally moved on in the industry to work in the field of equine reproduction for 10 years. After getting married and having two boys, she decided to expand her field of vision and talents to encompass photographing the horses she was always so passionate about. She has been a successful professional photographer for 3 years, becoming certified in January of 2011. She currently resides in Loveland, CO with her family in addition to 3 horses, 4 dogs and a cat. And if that weren’t enough to keep her busy, she still relishes her spare time and interests which include cuisine, travel and antiques. You can learn more by visiting her website at: or on facebook at:



Michaelanne (Mikey) Dehner grew up in Bucks County, PA and took up horseback-riding at an early age. She showed competitively before going to college to pursue a degree in Vocal Performance, focusing on opera and musical theater. Her passion for the outdoors led her to Colorado where she has lived for the past 13 years with her husband and her Siberian husky, Logan. She recently left her job in the outdoor industry to spend more time with her 2-year-old daughter. In addition to riding horses and writing, Mikey is an avid hiker, marathon runner, certified running coach and personal trainer.

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