Portraits from Portland: Tais Shares her Journey in Equestrian Photography

Portraits from Portland: Tais Shares her Journey in Equestrian Photography

For anyone that might not know, tell us a bit about yourself and your work!

This is always the hardest question for me! I guess we can begin by saying that I’m not a big fan of talking about myself; it always feels as if I am bragging. Perhaps this is part of the famous imposter syndrome that many people experience. Even writing captions under photos is a chore, haha. In a few words, I was born in Russia and moved here in my teens many years ago…
Now I'm a Portland-based (the one in Oregon) photographer who loves to capture life's authentic moments, focusing on the details that define individuality and relationships. My photography is all about the real, unfiltered beauty around us that I capture in intimate portraits, contemporary equestrian photography, and heartfelt family chronicles.


Can you tell us about your journey into equestrian photography and how you discovered your passion for capturing images of horses?

If only photography could capture it all! That soft velvet of the muzzle, the warmth of their breath, and of course that special barn sound and yes, smell! Growing up, I was that horse-obsessed girl, collecting every horse picture, toy, and book I could get my hands on.
Once I started riding myself, naturally I wanted to capture that experience and all the wonderful horses that came into my life. This slowly progressed into taking more photos for others and finally evolved into a business about 10 years ago. 

Your portfolio showcases a beautiful blend of portraits, and more abstract editorial style images. How do you balance these different styles in your work?

Thank you! While I enjoy photographing classic poses, there's always room for experimenting to unveil the more editorial and artistic sides of photography. I'm drawn to the hidden beauty in everyday moments, finding inspiration in every person and horse I photograph.
I enjoy experimenting with new perspectives and creating something special on the fly. The real magic unfolds when my subjects lose themselves in the moment, allowing me to capture the unique light, mood, and energy of the day.



Can you share any memorable experiences or stories from your time spent photographing horses and riders?

I absolutely love going to the Oregon Coast and the first time I got to photograph horses there was magical! There’s something completely different about the air, water, and occasional dune monsters that keep the horses and people on their toes. Giving me all the artistic freedom to create and be one with nature. Plus I get to enjoy riding on the beach and that alone is extra special for me. 


Many aspiring photographers dream of breaking into the equestrian photography industry. What advice would you offer to someone looking to pursue this career path?

Practice makes it perfect! Start by honing your skills through practice, capturing moments with friends, and family, or through trade work to build a diverse portfolio. As your confidence grows, begin to charge for your services, keeping your pricing competitive yet fair within your local market. Experiment with gear by renting at your local photography store or through online offerings.
Invest in “glass” aka lenses, rather than camera bodies, when you find your perfect combination. Embrace experimentation, seek mentorship from experienced photographers, and consider assistant roles to gain valuable insights.
Remember, fostering a community spirit over competition can open doors to unique opportunities and help you find your distinctive voice in the industry. There’s room for everyone’s voice and vision, so dive in, experiment, and let your unique perspective shine.

How do you stay inspired and continue to evolve creatively in your equestrian photography? Are there any particular sources of inspiration or influences that guide your work?

My inspiration comes from the vibrant life around me and the tranquility of nature, offering a balance that keeps my creativity flowing. Immersing myself in different forms of art, from cinema and museum visits to delving into books and exploring a vast array of online content, fuels my imagination.
I'm selective yet open-minded about my digital feed, constantly amazed by the boundless creativity of others. I draw inspiration from global fashion and editorial photographers, alongside fellow equestrians, blending diverse influences to keep my equestrian photography fresh and evolving.
I am in constant awe of human imagination and talent!

Equestrian photography involves wrangling of both horses and humans. Can you share any techniques or tips one could use to capture a great shot with your horse?

Patience and flexibility are your best tools in equestrian photography. Remember that both horses and people can have bad days and it’s important to respect both and allow for extra time and space when needed.
Embrace spontaneity, support your subjects, and learn from every mistake, as they can sometimes lead to the most beautiful shots. Experiment with different angles and perspectives for a more compelling composition.
Prioritize safety and comfort to ensure a positive experience for everyone involved, laying the foundation for authentic and captivating imagery.

Lastly, can you tell us what your dream photography project would be?

Working with indigenous people, exploring their connection with nature and horses. 
I would love to capture all the different landscapes of the Pacific Northwest with horses and people - desert, mountains, plains, and of course the coast.
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