When Eliza Puttkamer-Banks contacted me about the possibility of doing her "dream" photo shoot I jumped at the chance. The opportunity to combine the ocean and a black Arabian stallion was irresistible! The timing would be challenging, but Eliza had the perfect spot for the shoot, a beach just about an hours drive from her place in New Jersey.
Our location for this adventure? Island Beach State Park, a preserved barrier island just off the coast of New Jersey. When you look at it on a map, the island looks about as wide as a toothpick and, in fact, the location we were heading to was about 1,500 feet across! A narrow, ten mile strip of land lying less than two miles from the mainland with the southern six miles available for horseback riding. It's a very popular tourist destination during the summer and open for all kinds of recreational activities. However, while horseback riding is allowed, it's only between the months of October and April.
We had opted to shoot on a Thursday, hoping that by choosing a weekday, the beach wouldn't be too busy. We drove down the day before so that we could have plenty of time at the beach on shoot day and we arrived early in the afternoon, so headed to the location to scope it out.
As we headed through the dunes that Wednesday afternoon, I can remember hoping that the next day we'd have better weather! As you can see in the picture above, while the temperatures were great, we had flat overcast skies. While high overcast can be very flattering for portrait photography, our subject for the day was a black Arabian stallion, and black can be one of the most difficult colors of horses to photograph. If you don't get it just right, a beautiful black horse can end up looking like a flat, black silhouette.
I remember Thursday morning was very foggy! But then the weather gods smiled on us! When we pulled into the parking at the beach at 11:30, it was still cloudy, but it looked like the sun was trying to break through! As we unloaded it seemed like we were a world away from civilization. We literally had the place to ourselves! And then about 12:30 the clouds broke up and the sun came out and I breathed a huge sigh of relief!
Eliza actually had two different photo requests for the day. Pictures of Jeremiah on the beach, but also, some family portraits as well. That's the reason that her daughter, Paige, was with us that day, and it led to some of the most beautiful shots in my portfolio.
First up, though, was DBA Jeremiah+, and what a great horse to work with! It's always easier to get good horse photos when they're as well mannered and well trained as this guy!
While I was focused on shooting Eliza and Jeremiah down the beach, Paige was hanging out, waiting for the family photo shoot. The photos shown below happened because I spun around and happened to notice Paige doing nothing more than daring the waves and dancing with the seagulls!