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Ranching Photo Shoot with Zeph Schulz

Earlier this year, I put out a model call, asking if anyone knew of a working ranch I could visit and photograph for my equine stock photo library. Ranching images are popular, but all my ranch images were taken at the same ranch, and I wanted to add more diversity to this part of my library.

My friend Laura connected me with her cousin Zeph Schulz, who trains performance horses on a ranch in Utah, North East of Salt Lake City. We talked a few times and I decided this would be a great fit for my needs and I could help him by creating images for his training business. Win-win!

Before my trip, my friend Abigail Boatwright and I pitched a training article idea to Western Horseman magazine where Abigail would write and I would provide images. They accepted our pitch and the article will be coming out winter of 2019. 

I spent two full days and one half day doing photography. We had CRAZY weather almost the whole time. Sun one minute, storms the next. At first, I was frustrated because I wanted the sun to shine as it had for months before I got there. But once I saw the amazing images that cranky sky would offer me, I forgave it and embraced whatever came my way!

Zeph is not only a top-notch horse trainer, but he is also a natural teacher. He shared a lot of his philosophies and training methods with me as I would take photos. I gleaned a few things I can even apply to my own horses. I also learned more about how to photograph reined cow horse work. My goal is to be the kind of photographer that no matter what equestrian activity I am asked to photograph, I have the skills to do it with excellence.

I left Utah not only with thousands of great images for my Equine Stock Photo Library, but I also with a great deal of respect for this man, his work, his integrity, and his family. I was welcomed with open arms and invited in to capture a slice of their lives and livelihood and there’s really no way to repay that except with gratitude.

The above image is hands-down my favorite from my time there.

We arrived just as Zeph was returning from vacation. The cows were out in the back 40 somewhere, so we saddled up horses to go find them. 

The views were pretty spectacular.

Zeph’s three children arrived on the second day, so I was able to include them in a lot of the photos as well.

I brought my drone along to capture some unique perspectives as well as illustrate concepts in the article.

This next one has a story behind it. 

We were wrapping up our second full day of shooting and storms began to roll in. Lightning was flashing across the sky and I got the idea it would make for an epic photo if I could capture that. Daniel, Zeph’s son, was already horseback, so I positioned him on the driveway, within running distance of the barn so if the sky opened up, we could get inside quickly.

I crouched down on the ground with my 35mm lens and waiting. I was doing this all by hand and without a tripod (I almost never use one!). It would flash, I would miss. Over and over. Then I had the idea that my shutter speed might be too fast. It needed to stay open just a little longer to give myself a better chance at capturing the lightning. I dropped it to 1/50, and tried to hold still.

I also prayed. 🙂

That’s when there was a giant flash and then this moment happened.

I. Freaked. Out!

Then we hightailed it to the barn!

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