The professional photographer Diana Wahl specializes in working with horses and takes particularly aesthetic photos. In her work, she relies on Jinbei lightning bolts. She told us how she got into working with horses, what is important in this work and what was the most moving moment of her career so far.
WithJinbei flashes I've been working since 2017. Originally I had other flashes, but they fell over during a shoot and then the insurance company kept going back and forth. That's why I then thought that I needed lightning, that well working and also stable are. And Jinbei flashes had very good YouTube reviews, that's why I bought them and haven't used anything else since then.
12 years ago I saw an illustrated book by the well-known photographer Tim Flach, from London. He's probably done about every other campaign with animals in the studio.
And in this illustrated book you can see studio recordings that were really very aesthetic. I had always photographed a bit on vacation before, but when I had this photo book it was an important moment for the start of my career.
From gold leaf to Instagram to workshops. How did that happen?
I took my first steps towards studio photography in 2015. It wasn't all that professional yet, but the thought of making this kind of photography aesthetic was there all along.
Then I once saw a photographer who covered people with gold leaf for his photography. So I thought that you can certainly do that with horses too. At first I was afraid that animal rights activists might not find it a good thing, but it doesn't hurt the horses, they don't mind at all.
The first picture with gold leaf was at the end of 2017 and the final picture suddenly had 5,000 likes on Instagram. I think my most successful picture had 11,000 likes on Instagram. So I had the idea that this work could also be expanded a bit. That's why I started at the end of 2017 Horse photography other photographers in Workshops to explain. Because before there were very few photographers in this field.
How does the post-processing work in horse photography??
It comes from the post processing on how properly photographed beforehand has, i.e. how exactly you have already worked and how much time you have in total. My editing effort is on average around ten minutes per image. For some pictures, however, I spend two days editing them. The shoot is usually the fastest thing, the styling can take an hour.
Which setup do you use for your photos?
I have a certain basic setup and my main camera is one Canon 5D Mark III , my second camera one Sony A7 III . The background system is mostly black or sometimes gray. Then I set two lightning bolts to the left and right, facing each other, with the horse in the middle. It makes a difference how big the horse is. I have another one in the background Flash for the hair light . Sometimes, when a person is in the picture, I also take a small flash from the front with a small reflector. BothSoft boxes I use the Sizes 70x100 or 60x90 .
How do the horses handle cameras and flashes? And what is particularly importantg?
Very important: Safety first. The horse is allowed to acclimate itself first. The time I invest in the beginning so that the horse stands still, I save afterwards because the horse was very calm. It's a total fiddling job. Sometimes I take 60 pictures in the hall, 50 of which are good. But it is very important to wait for the right moment and give the horse its time. Then at some point I'll do a test flash and feel my way.
I've had about 250 or 300 shoots in the studio and so far there has only been one horse that was not possible. That was a Haflinger who was very curious. Most of them look for five minutes and then say okay, there is lightning. This can be very different depending on race and mood.
What kind of customers are you dealing with??
There are two or three different camps. There is the younger group on Instagram who first contact me by email. Then we send out a brochure and answer questions. The other are, for example, larger breeders or farms who want to have entire stocks photographed. For example for stallion catalogs. There's really a lot going on on Instagram. The third group are business customers, i.e. large companies. They are often looking for extraordinary ideas for social media.
What points do you particularly like about Jinbei flashes??
For example, I like that ingenious price-performance ratio . I can relax and put the flash there. If a horse jumps against it, that's stupid, but it's not a catastrophe. Because you already have a higher level of wear and tear during this work.Jinbei lightning bolts are robust and can fall over, get dust or dirt off.
I have six flashes plus battery flash and always something in stock in case something goes wrong. It rarely happens, but it does. The last time was in 2018 with the Haflinger. The lightning bolts are on my extreme demands very good.
It can be challenging when you have a horse in the studio. Sometimes you have horses that are unpredictable. In the beginning it is simple if it is still there. But the shoots sometimes last six to eight hours and we already had a jumping horse. Sometimes with and sometimes without a rider. The first few times I was afraid about the equipment, but over time you get more relaxed. It is important that the cables are laid well. When the horses run freely, you can never be quite sure where it is going. And you only have one moment when everything really fits. Then you hope that this house of cards doesn't collapse (laughs).
What was the most beautiful or most impressive moment of your work so far?
I have a shoot that will always stay in the back of my mind. That was two or three years ago and was near Frankfurt. I was booked by a couple of friends for a friend. Your horse was supposed to be euthanized in a few days and there wasn't a pretty photo of this horse. So they wanted a photo of the horse with gold. It was such a goosebumps moment if there was to be this one photo of this horse. It was such a great honor. When I styled it, it was very scary at first and couldn't really be touched. Suddenly, while I was styling it, it put its head on my shoulder and breathed on the back of my neck. It kind of said: do this, it's okay. I think I had a lung disease and got very bad breath. I think that's when we all cried. That was a really moving moment.