How to apply gold leaf for an equine photoshoot

Lots of people wanted to know how to do this! We chose to use hair gel, but I believe this could be achieved with vaseline. Go with the idea that less is more, and you can add to the design rather than trying to take away if you've applied too much.

I would say you need to be reasonably artistic. I found the application fiddly, and I had to be able to visualise what I wanted like the final outcome to look like. I used a small brush, sheets of gold leaf (make sure it's good quality), hair gel and a horse that was happy to stand patiently.

Make sure the horse is comfortable with you working so close to their face. Some horses are not at all bothered, but some can be super sensitive and need extra time to come round to the idea, so it's best to take things slow. Do not force a horse to keep their head still and don't try to restrain them - they are of course much bigger and stronger. If they're frightened, you'll just be fighting a losing battle! Take your time and introduce the textures, smells and look of the gold leaf sheets slowly.

Once Blondie was comfortable, we began to dab the hair gel into place with our finger tips. We applied the gold leaf and dabbed it on with the brush. It looked a bit funny at first until the edges begin to dab away. We had to slowly build and shape the design - remember, less is more approach to begin with!

I focused on getting the technique initially. I wasn't even sure if I'd want to photograph my first attempt at application. I think this took the pressure off a bit - there is no right or wrong way to apply/design, it's entirely down to personal preference. We all took turns looking at the design from afar working out what more it needed. We had to be careful not to knock the design with the head collar that Blondie was cross-tied with.

The result were amazing and then we had fun photographing them afterwards.

The photographs were produced purely with natural light and a darkened doorway - no backdrops or artificial lighting was used. at any point.

Hello, my name is Holly...

Welcome to my blog

I am an equine photographer based in Essex, England. I've owned and ridden horses always, and I've never known a life without them! I've started this little blog for my many ramblings. I've always liked to write, but previously had no outlet for it - now I do! I write about all things equine photography, horses and dogs so if you like any of those things, you're in the right place! If I can help you with a photoshoot then do let me know!

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