I shied away from it for a long time given my questionable photography skills, but finally gave it a shot in 2015. Posting horse pictures there has been fun, as has looking at everyone else’s horse pictures. Though my Twitter and Facebook pages are a little bit of everything, I’ve focused my Instagram to be completely horsey. I post nothing but horse-related pictures on there. My timeline abounds with racehorses, foals, and riding horses. It’s my Internet happy place.
Still, there’s one thing on Instagram that makes my blood boil: accounts that take other people’s pictures and use blanket phrases like “photos not mine” or “credit to the photographer”. No, that’s not evidence of permission, and that’s not proper credit. There are plenty of pieces out there already about why stealing people’s photos and posting them without credit is not okay. This won’t be a treatise on copyright law.
Instead, I will be positive. If you are going to post on Instagram, focus on posting your own pictures. Your pictures are you, and your pictures are enough.
You may feel pressure to post Big Stakes Horses that everyone’s interested in. Think about it this way…the Internet is already flooded with pictures of Big Stakes Horses.
On the other hand, how many pictures are there on Instagram of that durable nine-year-old at your local track, the one with the striking chestnut coat and the stripe down his face? How often do you see pictures of the horse who just debuted at your local track, the one with chrome all the way up and over her back left knee? What about pictures of that tight, four-way blanket finish in Saturday’s 5th, a mid-level claimer for non-winners of three? Whether your local track is Belmont, Fairmount, or Wyoming Downs, you can get interesting horse pictures that will be new to everyone.
You may not have the skills of some of the other photographers…yet. But, taking more horse pictures will get you better at it, and you’ll look back in a year or two or three and see your photos improve.
And, if you don’t live near a racetrack, if you can’t visit a racetrack as often as you’d like? You can still keep an active account. Raid your racing photo archives — no rule says you can’t go back and post your favourite racetrack pictures from the past. It may be called Instagram, but it doesn’t have to be instant. An older picture that was interesting or cute a few years ago still is.
Your followers may not know these horses off the top of their heads…yet. You have that power! You know them.
Tell short stories about these horses in the caption — about the goofy thing they did in the paddock, or the colossal effort they put forth in the race, or what about the horse caught your eye. Introduce the Internet to the horses that mean something to you. You’ll be surprised — you might build new fans for your favourite horses, or for your local circuit.
If you don’t live near a track, if you only get there a couple times a year, find other ways to take horse pictures.
Do you ride horses? Take pictures of your horse, or of the other horses in your horse’s barn. Use the pictures to tell fun stories about what your horses or your barnmates’ horses do.
Is there a horse farm somewhere nearby, or a riding trail, or a horse show? Go take pictures there. It’s not racing, but racing people who like horse pictures are also going to enjoy pictures of horses in other contexts, as well.
Instagram is a social network for pictures — but it’s no fun when people pilfer and post the same pictures that everyone else has posted. Make Instagram more fun and original by introducing us to the horses you see, know, and love.