REDEFINE | Taking a creative leap doing Horse Photography feature by That Girl Pearl Photography

Tell us about what drives your work, How did you get started?

I am determined to break away from the impulse that pretty parks and pretty clothes will capture my subject’s true essence. Something just doesn’t feel natural when I look at these images. How often do people get into their finest clothes to go to a park? My passion comes from capturing moments with people and their pets in the comfort of their own environment. There is no place like home and it truly comes through in photographs. Clients get excited when they see items in the background that they take for granted in their everyday lives. The little details like a garden hose in the background, the way a living room was arranged, or artwork attached to the refrigerator. I love being able to immerse myself in someone else’s life and record how people really play together, laugh together, and live together.

I purchased a DSLR with the birth of my first child so I could capture all the moments, big and small, special and ordinary like any other proud mom would.It wasn’t long before I was able to incorporate the skills I learned from my college photography classes and design degree with the images I was making for myself.Soon after I was asked to take family photos for a close friend; I was surprised and excited by how much I completely loved it! Eventually, my business That Girl Pearl Photography was formed. At first, I was primarily shooting traditional family sessions in a park, but the awareness of documenting life when and where it was happening, like I was creating in my own home, channeled my focus for my business.Now I am driven to capture the moments. Moments that tell the stories of people’s life. Moments that bring happiness whenever the image is viewed. These moments are what really feeds my soul.

What were the challenges for you in the beginning, how did you start capturing these beautiful animals?

Photographing horses had always been a creative dream of mine. The initial challenge I faced was my own insecurity and fear. I was so reluctant to ask anyone if I could photograph their horses. It took five years of living by my neighbor who has three horses before I finally had the nerve to go ask if I could photograph them. I realize just saying that sounds so crazy. It is so sad how much we deny ourselves by letting fear take over the driving wheel. My approach for this horse shoot was to capture these beautiful animals in the area they call home, in the same manner, I conduct my family lifestyle sessions. Start by observing how they interact with each other at their own home and not pose them at all. I did a little research on equine photography and it mostly emphasized capturing specific postures and the optimum positioning of their ears. This just got in my way of what I wanted to do. I just wanted to photograph them how they were in their space, in their moment(s).

Why are you passionate about capturing the beauty of horses?

I have always been fascinated by horses since I was young and would sketch them for fun. Horses emanate a grandeur to me that is so majestic and I always feel a sense of freedom just looking at them. Capturing this feeling became a little obsession that kept growing the longer I waited to do it. My appreciation for horses exploded with this photo shoot. It amazed me how much the horses were studying me while I was watching them. I was naïve and had no idea how much personality and funny little quirks horses have. These creatures are full of spunk, sweetness, and affection. They are extremely smart, comical and can also be very stubborn.

What are the tips you would share with anyone trying to capture more wildlife or horses specifically is there something different between that of a personal session?

My approach to photographing horses or animals of any sort is very similar to how I approach any lifestyle session. I don’t want my subjects to feel nervous or threatened by my presence. I introduce myself with a cheerful charisma and respectful attitude. Once the newness settles and a level of comfort exists I pull out my camera and go to work.By this time, I have had time to observe and can steer my subjects to where the light is the best and then let the moments unfold from there. If I cannot guide my subjects to where the light is best, I will wait for them to come to it. Capturing them in their natural state can be tricky because most of the time it seems all they really want to do is eat the grass. I had to be very patient with them and wait for them to decide to move around or have their handler give them a nudge here or there. As much as possible try to let the moments unfold in front of you.

What would you share with anyone trying to overcome their fear and push themselves to take a leap creatively on a personal project?

It took me five years of insecurity and nervousness to ask my neighbor if I could photograph her horses. The owner was delighted to show them off as well as receive a complimentary photo session. The result is my heightened appreciation of horses, a happy neighbor, and my kids are happier because they got to ride the horses after the shoot.

Share a crazy anecdote while photographing horses

There was a moment that touched my heart and shocked my understanding of how charming a horse could be. During my initial observation phase of the photoshoot I was watching two horses, Scarlett & PJ, interact with each other in a similar manner as my yellow labs act at home. Scarlett and PJ are total besties and want to always be together. If you take Scarlett out of her stall, PJ gets really upset and loudly neighs in his stall. Once he is let out to the pasture with Scarlett, he will run up to her and want to be right next to her.During my fascination with this scene playing out in front of me, the third horse Queenie slowly came up behind me and ever so gently placed her head on me. It was the sweetest little hug and I felt so special and welcomed. After I returned the hug back, I realized this was my cue to begin shooting.



I live in the St. Louis area in a small town called Defiance, MO. I am married with 2 kids and 2 yellow labs. I am so in love with our little family and obsessed with documenting our life. My love for documenting our life carries over to wanting to document life for my clients.

My first photography love is family lifestyle/storytelling, but I also photograph weddings, seniors, small businesses and real-estate. Doing my own creative projects is my favorite, and am always working on a few creative photography projects with hopes of a gallery show one day.


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