Fantasy Photo Shoot Contest Winner: To The Masquerade Ball & The Huntress

At the end of 2016, I offered my new Fantasy Photo Shoots eBook for Pre-Order. Those who pre-ordered the eBook were automatically entered into a drawing to win a Fantasy Photo Shoot with my Friesian gelding, Douwe!

For the Fantasy Photo Shoots, I am able to provide Douwe as the mainstay of the photographs, adding to the emotion and the depth of the photo. Douwe is also incredible at providing confidence (and the camera loves him!).

The winner of the Fantasy Photo Shoot Contest drawing was Karen Mancuso, who wanted to share the experience with her daughter, and so "To the Masquerade Ball" and "The Huntress" were born. 

Karen's 'Masquerade':

I love it when costumes magically come together! Karen walked into the dressing room with this beautiful, royal purple cape, and from there I was able to draw from my own costume closet and complete the look! 

Photo taken by Taylor Burdin

Photo taken by Taylor Burdin

I just enjoyed the entire experience, honestly; it was playful and fun.
— Karen Monusco

As an artist, it is always fun to use people as canvases! For Karen, I chose an ethereal look, with soft curls framing her face, and added a touch of smoky purple to her eyes. She is also wearing Ardell Self-Adhesive Lashes.

Behind-the-scenes tidbit: I found Karen's forehead jewel at Hobby Lobby for less than $5!


Ashley's 'Huntress':

Ashley's 'Huntress' costume was fun to create and she came onto the set looking lovely and fierce! The layers added to the texture and depth of the outfit and the drab forest colors added authenticity to the idea of her hunting in the woods.

Photo taken by Taylor Burdin.

Photo taken by Taylor Burdin.

Makeup

For Ashley's huntress makeup, we found some photos on Pinterest for inspiration and had fun finger-painting warrior markings on her face. Otherwise, we kept it fairly simple with brown tones for her eyes and a nude lip gloss.

Hair

For Ashley's hair, I used brown cord and weaved it between small braids, tying them together, and completed the look with a braided 'faux-hawk' at the top (which is created with a Dutch-style braid with the edges pulled apart to look fuller).

This fantasy photo shoot was something I never expected, but always secretly wanted.
— Ashley Mancuso
Photo taken by Taylor Burdin. 

Photo taken by Taylor Burdin. 

Tack

From performing with Douwe, I have two sets of tack, and we put them to good use! Both sets were designed and created by Lisa Oberman, of El Sueno Espanol, aka "the Tack Temptress".

Location

For the past several years, I have spent my winters in Florida at Southern Oaks Equestrian Center, owned and operated by my close friend, Marsha Hartford Sapp. Marsha's property, hidden along the farm roads of Tallahassee, is beautiful and lush. The large oak trees dripping with Spanish moss and the forested pastures provided stunning backdrops for the fantasy photo shoot.

It has been an unbelievable experience to draw out the visions inside of others and help them create their
own special experience they can look back on and say,

"Wow, dreams really do come true."

About the Photographer(s)

Taylor Burdin is a former student of mine from Isaac Royal. She currently works full time for L.L. Bean Inc., and does photography as a hobby. She uses vintage Canon and Nikon lenses on an Olympus EPL1 body. The fantasy photos were shot with an older Canon 50 mm f1.4 film camera lens, which gives the photos a softer look and a dream-like quality.

Karen is also a hobby photographer. Karen shoots with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III digital camera.


Q & A With Karen:

Q: When was the first moment that horses came into your life?

Karen: “My family had a ranch in Wyoming. We moved there full-time when I was 10. We had four horses at the time, and I would ride them every day with the cowboy that worked for us. We would fix fences, check watering holes, move the cows…I felt like I had died and gone to Heaven.”


Q: What inspired you to purchase Sandra's Fantasy Photo Shoots eBook?

Karen: I was very excited to pre-order Sandy's Fantasy Photo Shoots eBook, you see, as I needed ideas for a special shoot for my daughter. I wanted pictures of her with her beloved Retto, but I wanted them to be very special pictures; fun photos, not show photos. I wanted it to have an otherworldly feel.

Q: What made you want to involve your daughter in the photo shoot?

Karen: “I love doing things with Ashley; she always makes everything more fun!”


Q: What most excited you about the idea of the Fantasy Photo Shoot?

Karen: “Undoubtedly being able to sit on Douwe! He's magnificent!”


Q: You are a photographer yourself, what was it like to be on the other side of the camera?

Karen: “Normally I'm very uncomfortable in front of the camera, but this time I didn't even notice it; I was having too much fun with Sandra and Douwe.”

Q: What was it like to work with Sandra and Douwe?

Karen: “I felt like I was in very good hands. I felt completely entertained.”


Q: What were some of the thoughts going through your head as you were getting your hair and makeup done for the shoot?

Karen: “I have never worn make-up, except a little blush at my wedding, so having my hair and make-up done was very entertaining. The eyelashes were kind of scary. I just enjoyed the entire experience, honestly; it was playful and fun.”


Q: What is your advice for people who want to create/participate in a photo shoot, but have something standing in their way?

Karen: “Buy Sandy's book! I'm sure it's going to be full of helpful tips. Wardrobe is actually very important, so plan enough time to have that spot on. I struggled, but Sandra helped pull ‘The Huntress’ together. I'm in that position [creating a wardrobe] right now, actually, because I'm still planning my fantasy [photo] shoot with Ashley and her beloved Warmblood, Retto. Retto will always be her first love. He's super cool and I'm working on a cloak for that shoot. I have everything to put it together, I just need some sewing lessons first…”


Find the RIGHT Photographer for a Fantasy Photo Shoot with your Horse - Download the Resource Guide

It can be challenging to find a photographer that understands horses and also has a creative spirit. I created this resource guide to help you find a creative photographer near you. This guide will be updated regularly, just check back periodically for a fresh download. It includes multiple pages with photographers from the USA, Europe, UK, and Australia. If you are a photographer and would like to be added to the guide please email me at beginthedance@gmail.com. 

The image below is just a screenshot of the guide, please CLICK on it to go to the actual .PDF where you can download it for your own use or click on the links to learn more about the photographers.

Are you dreaming of a Fantasy Photo Shoot?

I have had many people ask questions about the photo shoots I have done with my horses.
I decided to pull together all my experience and resources to share with my friends and fans.
I am still in the writing process but you can download the first chapter for free to get started.

Fantasy Photo Shoots Free Chapter Download.png

Join the Facebook Group!

"Red Riding Hood" Fantasy Photo Shoot - Costume Ideas & Resources

Putting together a creative photo shoot with your horse can be a lot of fun but it also takes time and imagination! This particular idea took me two years to complete from start to finish. By the time my custom cape was ready the snow was all gone so I had to wait another year. I had to keep a close eye on the weather and wait for the perfect conditions, fresh snow on the ground, light snowfall in the air, no wind and decent temps (it was about 25 degrees the day of the shoot). It was worth the wait! 

I was inspired to try this shoot while browsing through Pinterest. My favorite photos were taken in the winter and I knew the dramatic color contrast would look great on Douwe, my Friesian. I have saved over 6,000 images to my Costume Inspiration board on Pinterest. If you are looking for costume ideas definitely check out my board! Click here.


Costume

The Red Cape: The most important costume piece! I searched around on Etsy to see what was on sale but my only choice was to have one custom made. I wanted it to have extra length so that when I rode the horse it almost hit the ground. Luckily, I know an amazing seamstress who lives locally in Dover-Foxcroft, ME. Her name is Rhonda Kirkpatrick. You can contact her at: rhonda@designersfortheatre.com. She found a great pattern for a monk's hood and cape that draped nicely over the shoulders. We had a hard time finding fabric because the red wool isn't readily available certain times of the year. I eventually found EXACTLY what I needed at Marden's, they had one roll left of this beautiful red wool AND matching cotton fabric for a liner! I was so excited! Lucky for me it was a fraction of the cost...I can't remember what I paid for it but I know that it was more than 50% off. Click on an image below to open a slideshow. The wool is gorgeous but keep in mind that it is quite HEAVY. It isn't always easy to manage but stays draped over the horse very well in motion.

A Beautiful Clasp: I wanted a beautiful, gold clasp at the neck to match the accents on my corset. After searching through JoAnn Fabric, ACMoore and online I was unable to find an actual clasp that would be large enough and strong enough to hold up that amount of fabric. What I did find were these plastic accessories in the clearance section at Hobby Lobby that were only .99 cents each! I used a gold Sharpie marker to doll them up and Rhonda sewed them onto the cape to look like a clasp! Voila! 

Black Leather Gloves: On a whim I stopped at Goodwill and found the most perfect pair of gloves!!! Soft black leather, insulated, just the right size, and long!!! They were perfect!

corset sandy.jpg

Steampunk Corset: I already owned this corset and I knew that I would use it for this shoot. I originally bought this online at www.corset-story.com to wear in the indie film Essential Realism. They have an amazing selection of corsets and I currently own three from their website. This corset is steel boned, making it harder to get into, you will need someone to lace you up! The less expensive plastic boning is more flexible but may not have the look you want.

White Blouse: My mother-in-law Bethanne is always finding unique costume pieces at Goodwill and gave me this beautiful blouse. It has a ruffled neckline, perfect to wear with the corset. I am always on the lookout for tops that have a unique neckline to wear with corsets.

Black Skirt: I bought this gypsy skirt online at www.moondancebellydance.com. I have 4 of these 25 yard skirts and use them all the time. They come in one size with a drawstring so it is very adjustable. You will need a circle skirt to cover your legs and your horse. I did not wear an underskirt in this photo shoot but I should have because I ripped it while I was walking around in the snow, the fabric is pretty gauzy and light. They have a wide variety of colors on their website.

Fur Belt: This piece of fur is actually a shrug that I bought for a previous winter photo shoot. It is meant to sit over your shoulders. It fit perfectly around my hips and added a nice touch! I bought it at JCPenney in their accessory aisle.


Hair & Makeup

I experimented with rag curlers for this shoot because I didn't want to spend hours curling my hair. I cut 1 x 8" strips out of an old tee shirt and used a pencil to help roll them up (I found instructions on Pinterest). Unfortunately the curls fell out slightly because of the snow/dampness. For makeup I did a basic smokey eye and red lipstick.

Click here for a blog post on How to use Rag Curlers: 
http://offbeatbride.com/rag-curls/


Tack

Bridle: I used a custom bitless bridle made for me by Lisa Oberman of El Sueno Espanol. She originally made this for the indie film Essential Realism. I wanted something simple but the accents on the bridle look great for this style of photograph. Click here to visit her Facebook page to see some of her amazing creations!


Photographer

Because this photo shoot was so dependent on the weather I needed someone that could be ready at the last minute. My best friend Lydia Rose Spencer lives at Isaac Royal Farm where we did the photo shoot (her mother owns the facility). She used a Canon 60D camera with a 18-135mm lens.

Please take a moment to visit her website http://lydiarosefineart.com/ and her Lydia Rose Art Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/LydiaRoseArt?fref=ts to see her amazing collection of equine art.

Is That a Real Raven? While we were in the process of the shoot both Lydia and I remembered a photo we saw on Pinterest with a girl on a horse and a Falcon in her hand. We tried multiple poses with me holding my hand out, pretending to look at a bird. Lydia did an AMAZING job creating these images and just about everyone thought the raven was real! 

I hope you have enjoyed this blog post! Please share your photos and videos with me so that I can see what you have come up with!

Do you love being creative with your horse?

Download the First Chapter of my new Fantasy Photo Shoots E-Book today!
Or you can go ahead and Purchase the E-Book to get started.

Art on Horseback & Baroque Horse Art featured on equine art blog The Flying Shetlands!

I wanted to share this equine art blog that recently shared my work. The Flying Shetlands blog was created by a young woman named Shya who is an aspiring artist and horse enthusiast. She started blogging at age 13! I think it is wonderful to see someone so young sharing their passion with the world. She has almost 100 artists featured on her blog including amazing photographers like Sabine Peters from Germany,  sculptures like Gustavo Aceves, and painters including Tony O'Connor. I wish her all the best and I want everyone to send her blog some love!  

https://theflyingshetlands.wordpress.com/

Click on the image to read her blog post about equine photographer Sabine Peters. 

Click on the image to read her blog post about equine photographer Sabine Peters. 

Click here to read Shya's blog post about equine sculpture Gustavo Aceves.

Click here to read Shya's blog post about equine sculpture Gustavo Aceves.

Click here to read her blog post about equine artist Tony O' Connor.

Click here to read her blog post about equine artist Tony O' Connor.