the Shoot

Location Equipment
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Inspiration pieced itself together one step at a time along the journey to plan this editorial. I put it together with my vendor friends (Novella Theory Floral and Curated Mess Co) about one week before we shot at the coast. We actually had the horse lined up first since my childhood friend owns this stunning horse, Mouse. We based the shoot off of his majestic vibes. We then struggled all week to find somebody available to model for this last-minute spark of inspiration, until I went thrifting and asked someone working at the store, Cieries, to model for us. It was the first time we met and I knew I just had to take the leap and ask! It was so worth it.

This shot was the result of acting on pure excitement to create something.

Directing this shoot was actually a little nerve-racking because Cieires had never controlled a horse before, and I didn’t want her getting hurt. It was a balance between going ham with my creativity, and slowing down and reigning it in (see what I did there?) for safety.

Taking some steps back to see what the horse naturally did was key to getting relaxed images of both of them.
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Location Name

Florence, Oregon

Location aDDRESS

Florence, Oregon


United States

Location TYPE

Beach / Coastal



Canon 5D Mark iii




Canon EF 85mm f/1.2 L II

Lens Filter


Other Equipment
No additional equipment was used.

the Shoot

Directions Composition Focus Light & Exposure
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Calm Posed Simple


I simply asked the model to stand holding the horse and to look out towards the ocean. While doing so, I asked her to gently pull the horse so it would look towards her. I wanted to create this connection between the two.

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What was said

Stare directly into the ocean and look regal. Pull Mouse (the horse) in to face you.

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Why I composed the way I did

I loved the calmness of the location and wanted much of that to be in the frame, so I stepped way back with my 85mm and took a wide photo that included quite a lot of the sky. One of the benefits of shooting a wide image with a longer lens is the compression it creates. It makes things feels a lot more “present”.

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Center Framed Lower Thirds Wide Negative Space


Focus mode

Single point auto focus

Focus Technology

Single Shot Autofocus

Focused on

The Horses face

Focus description

I definitely had to shoot on manual focus since Mouse (the horse) was super wiggly and moved around a lot. I just kept my focus point dead center to compose a cleaner photo.

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Shutter Speed






White Balance


Other Light Sources
No additional light sources were used.
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Light &

How the light was used

We technically started shooting in the warm, bright, and backlit sunshine just before it set. This photo, however, was shot after the sun had dipped beneath the horizon. We still had just enough light to shoot in and it was just such an incredible blue hour. This soft lighting is my favorite to shoot in! I made sure to have them face the direction where the sun had just disappeared in order for their faces to catch as much light as possible.

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Soft Light Directional Light Bright Natural Light Blue Hour

the Shoot

Editing & Presets
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Editing &

Editing Software used
Preset Used

own custom preset

How I edited this image

After bringing the photo into Lightroom, I found it very easy to edit since we shot in very soft lighting. I didn’t want anything too vibrant, but to keep things subtle, ethereal, and gentle. I applied my own preset to the photo, and I didn’t have to clone/heal anything. I also didn’t use any brushes or local adjustment. I think simple is an understatement for this edit.

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Challenges Solutions Advice

Challenges & Solutions

Events that were challenging during the shoot

The biggest challenge of this shoot was working with a large animal. He looks quite docile in the photos, and he definitely was amazing to work with, but nonetheless it was difficult to shoot with something that is more unpredictable to me than a human, and way larger than a dog . Cieries also didn’t have experience with horses so it was a slow process of getting shots in between Mouse being a bit mischievous. I was always having to watch Cieries toes as well since I was super worried she’d get stepped on!

Solutions I found

Taking our time and keeping a relaxed environment was key. Also having my friend who was Mouse’s owner step in to take him over whenever was necessary was very helpful. Being patient and balancing that with taking the shots quick was what ended up creating that photo. Also having Cieries be so calm and natural with Mouse definitely made this possible.


This shot definitely brings me pride, and I often look back at that entire evening as a bullet point in defining my personal style.

A week after I photographed this, I actually upgraded my camera to an R6. I remember thinking that evening that I wished I had my new camera. But looking back even after loving my R6, I am so glad I photographed with feeling and didn’t let the gear determine the outcome of a photo. I really do believe that cameras don’t make or break a good photo.

I would recommend to every photographer to latch onto every last idea that brings them inspiration, and act on it! When you can feel excitement or drive behind creating specific images, they will most likely be your most cherished work.
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Photographed by

Sarah Sisson

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