Sunset Silhouette Photos with Equine Photographer Shelley Paulson


Equine photographer Shelley Paulson can’t remember a time when she didn’t love horses. “When I started taking an interest in photography as an adult, naturally, the first thing I pointed the camera at was horses! Two passions combined to make a fulfilling career where I spend my days surrounded by horses and the people who love them.”

From the beginning, Paulson became a student of light, and how she uses that light is at the forefront of her creative decisions behind the camera. “‘Light first, location second’ has long been a rule of thumb for me,” she says. “If the light isn’t good, the photo isn’t good. Watch out if I’m driving down country roads during the ‘golden hour’ just before sunset, because I become very distracted by how the late-day light interacts with the landscape.”

“Real Life, True Beauty” is Paulson’s business tagline. “I want my images to invite you in the moment and the feeling that was present when I clicked the shutter, that’s the real life part. But I also convey the true beauty of the horse through my use of light, composition and color.”


Silhouette Success

“I have been making silhouettes almost as long as I’ve been making photos,” says Paulson. “The first one I made quite by accident, but it was a happy accident! After that, I started looking for opportunities to make silhouettes.

“Before I was a photographer, I was a graphic designer, and there is definitely a graphic element to a good silhouette. I use composition, shape and color to tell a story when capturing subjects against the late-day sky.

“The best sunsets happen when there are some clouds in the sky. As the sun sets, it lights the sky on fire with color.”

“The first thing I need to do is find a place to put my subject that will get them above any trees or objects in the landscape, such as a hillside, or even a road with a ditch next to it. The next part is where I usually get a little dirty if the horse isn’t on a nice tall hill–I get to lie in the grass to get that upward angle.

Lastly, I direct my client into a pose that will make for an interesting shape. That usually means some kind of profile, if the photo has a person in it. Seeing the shape of their face is more interesting than just the outline of their head. I expose for the sky, and voila! A beautiful silhouette.

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