Horses and Cowboys Photography Workshop

By Jeff Insel

This is an outstanding workshop for those who like action and portrait photography. As a bonus, this all takes place at an all-inclusive, award winning resort known as the White Stallion Ranch with more than 3,000 acres of Arizona desert. This is a working ranch with more than 100 horses and is listed in the Historic Hotels of America. The staff here does an incredible job of making sure we have amazing opportunities to photograph “just for us” events such as a practice rodeo, the running of horses at sunrise and sunset, providing working wranglers as models, posing inside the tack rooms and on horseback in the nearby desert. They even provided one of their vans to transport our participants to the nearby desert locations for our riding wranglers shoot. Last, they provide a large meeting room equipped with projector and screen, coffee, tea, ice water and morning pastries.

Our first day began with an introduction and orientation by Jeff Kida, our photographer/instructor. Jeff provided a slide show and description of the coming days’ photographic opportunities.  Afterwards we did a walk around the ranch and some of the shooting locations at which we’d be working. After lunch we had our first photo opportunity—photographing the inside of the Saddle Repair Shop, doing some macro and close up photographs of the saddles, tack and tools. After a short break we made our way to the rodeo arena to photograph a practice rodeo with barrel racing, team roping and breakaway roping. This event was set up just for Arizona Highways PhotoScapes. The group spread out on the ground level inside the arena, alongside the fence and on the spectator stands for this first effort at action photography. Later, we got to photograph a large group of horses running for their evening feed just before sunset—also done just for our group.


Our second day began at 5:30 am. We gathered near a gate in the corral to photograph the horses running for their morning feed until just after sunrise. Afterwards we walked to the corral outside the Saddle Repair Shop to photograph the wranglers getting horses brushed and saddled for the morning horseback rides. After a break for breakfast we returned to the Saddle Repair Shop for our first shoot with models—two wranglers, Cassidy and Nick. They were very cooperative in posing in different ways throughout the morning. After our lunch break we met to download images and have our first photo critique.  At 5:15 pm we met at the van to drive about a mile to our first model shoot in the desert with two wranglers, Steven and Shane, who rode through the desert in a light rain on horseback for us. We also happened to have a beautiful sunset.

Our last day, we met at 5:45 am for another model shoot in the desert, this time with wrangler Sally who was very gracious and rode in the light rain around the desert, including some galloping. After a breakfast break, we had our final model shoot with two very talented team ropers from our Friday practice rodeo shoot, brother and sister Manny and Ciarra. They happen to be 12 and 16 years old and were amazing models, patient, cooperative and seemingly already professional.  We had our final lunch and then met for a final critique. The participants captured some amazing and wonderful photographs over the past several days and enjoyed the great hospitality at the White Stallion Ranch and instruction provided by Jeff Kida.

Jeff Insel is a Photo Guide for Arizona Highways PhotoScapes.