If you are keyed at all into the equestrian world, especially on social media, there is no way you haven’t seen photographs by the talented Carly Nasznic. Her photos capture amazing moments in equestrian riding, and I adore them. In fact, I would love to be photographed by her one day (when my eq is perfect and when I am in showing in major classes – not the beginner hunters for the first time). Carly is super talented, and I have to say she is one of my favorite equine photographers thus far. I check her Instagram account often, and I am pretty sure I’ve liked every photo she has ever posted.
I always ask everyone I interview for a fun fact about themselves, but Carly’s fact is also a bit of a shocker.
“Everyone thinks that I’m older than what I really am only because I take “such clear and focused photos”, but actually I am only 16,” she said.
Yup. Carly is only 16 and taking these amazing photos. Imagine her photography skills years from now.
Carly has been riding for about seven years and trains with Ashley McDonald out of Dapper Dan Farm in Rhode Island. She rides between 4 and 6 days a week, and she shows at least twice a month. Her love of horses began in 5th grade.
“My best friend had boxes of ribbons and trophies and at the time I was very jealous therefore my parents started by putting me into riding lessons. As of now, it’s not about the ribbons and trophies and more about the relationship with my horse, trainer and other riders around me,” Carly said.
Many individuals think that buying a fancy camera makes them a photographer. And, photography has actually been quite popular since I was in high school (a long time ago –hides face-) So what got Carly into photography?
“About three years ago I started to compete and as of last year I really started to get serious. After seeing everyone posting on social media the photos that they bought from the shows they went to, I got the feeling that those photos would keep the memories that will last a lifetime,” she said. “I have always taken photos of horses and anything relating to horses. I haven’t really gone outside of that.”
Carly’s photo skills are self-taught, which is super impressive given the quality of her photographs and the moments she captures. Carly has actually never even taken a photography class before – though she hopes to change that.
“This upcoming summer, I hope to take a class or two on what I need to improve with my photography,” she said.
Carly began posting her photographs on Instagram and taking what she terms “ok” photos of people she knew and giving them the photos for free. However, she soon found that everytime someone would regram her photo and tag her, more and more people would become interested in her photographing services.
Although this was happening, it took about a year before Carly really became noticed as an equine photography.
“I am now at the point where people will see me walking around at a horse show taking photos and will come up to me and say ‘hey are you Carly Nasznic? I think I follow you on Instagram!’ I’ll then laugh and say yes I am,” Carly explained. “I always love when I meet new people who interested in my photography, it makes me feel like I have a purpose.”
Carly Is 100 percent self-employed; however, she hopes to have her own photography business someday. She also does have a website – which she said is always under construction – that helps get her name out there. Carly, right now, is not selling any photos.
Carly photographed quite often at WEF this past year.
“I was in Wellington at the Winter Equestrian Festival for weeks 3, 6, and 7. I missed as little school as possible as this is my junior year in high school and is very important academically. I ended up missing about five days total because weeks 6 & 7 were my February vacation weeks!” She said. “Before I left, I went to every one of my teachers who for the most part were understanding and would give me the homework assignments that would be due when I got back.”
For those of you wanting to use Carly’s photography services, she specializes in all types of equine photos. Carly uses a Canon 70d with Canon lenses, including a:
- 70 – 200mm;
- 55 – 250mm;
- 70 – 300mm
To edit her photos, Carly uses Afterlight or Lightroom.
Although Carly does engage in editing photos, she prefers to keep them as natural as possible.
“I tend to leave the photos I take more natural and not edit them so much,” she said. “When I first started I would always use a lot of contrast, which I see most on social media, but I believe it lessens the value of your picture and its quality.”
Breaking into equine photography is hard, especially because anyone can buy a camera and start taking photos. Carly had the following advice for those who are serious about it.
“For anyone wanting to get into equine photography, I recommend that they just have fun with it. It shouldn’t be stressful or cause you issues. I’ve always had the motto ‘It is what it is,’ referring to if people like my work then I’m happy and if they don’t that’s okay I’ll keep trying to improve on what needs improvement.”
According to Carly, the top three qualities an equine photographer should have are:
- Responsibility it takes to deal with people, horses, and the time needed to put into one’s work
Though she is super talented, Carly said she never expected to become this well-known for her photos. She didn’t think so many people would be this interested in her photography, and she is “so grateful” that people have taken the interest they have because it says she is right for the job.
Although photography is one of Carly’s passions, Carly does intend on going to college for something other than photo. She has thought about majoring in business marketing. However, when she graduates, she wants to pursue a career in the equestrian industry.
Carly has taken tons of photos, so we asked her what her favorite photo she has taken has been.
“I’d say my favorite photo ever would be of rider Hannah Patten. It was a photo I wasn’t expecting to take and wasn’t ready for but as soon as I saw the moment of her hugging her horse while on her way out of the ring, I knew I just had to get it,” she said.
Carly has also made some super awesome connections through her photography. She has met riders Tori Colvin and Jessica Springsteen – both of whom have been extremely complimentary about her photography.
Carly does have other hobbies besides riding and taking photos. She also loves surfing, competing in triathlons, and dancing. She also said she doesn’t really have an artistic background and can’t “draw, paint, build, or really anything relating to” art excdpt for taking photos. Her photo skill is something she developed on her own.
She believes that anyone who sets their mind to it can become a good photographer.
“You need to have the will, and in my opinion, a certain eye for it,” she said.
Dedication is also hugely important considering Carly spends about 2 – 4 hours a day on photos. During the week, Carly is constantly on Instagram and answering emails. She said that she does find the photograph requests to be overwhelming at times, but the outcomes makes it all worth it. During the weekend, she edits photos for hours.
Currently, Carly interns for The Plaid Horse Magazine. Her internship requires taking photos for the magazines social media accounts and posting them. She also spreads the name of the magazine.
Carly said the most difficult thing about photography is striving for perfection.
“Sometimes its more about the moment rather then are the horses ears forward? Are his knees even? Does the rider have good eq?” She said. “I will sometimes be picky and get mad at myself for not getting the perfect photo but then I will stare at it really closely for as long as it takes to realize it doesn’t need to be perfect since it has its own special meaning.”
When Carly first started, she dreamed of taking photos of Tori Colvin and having Tori enjoy her photos.
“That dream came true when this time at WEF I was able to actually meet and talk to her,” Carly said. “She was so sweet and said numerous compliments to me about my photos. She has also used them on social media and was kind enough to take a photo with me. I wish that more equestrians were more humble and appreciative like her.”
Carly also took the time to address the controversial topic of stealing professional photos.
I use to be one of those people who would post the show proofs on social media and then comment ‘don’t worry I’m buying this,’ but in the end its still stealing,” Carly said. “I think it’s not right, and you should just wait until you actually buy the photo or get permission to post.”
Carly went on: “I have seen people blur out the watermarks on the show proofs and try and make it look okay. Over time people might think this will hurt the industry but there are the people who will still purchase because that is the right thing to do. To help this issue maybe a stronger watermark or even a way that on their website you can’t save it to your camera roll.”
Carly is certainly a force to be reckoned with when it comes to taking superb, artsy, amazing equine photos that capture “real” equestrian moments – not just what is pretty. To keep up with Carly on social media, she can be found on Instagram, Facebook, and at her website. She is also available for photoshoots in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, or Vermont. She stated she will travel “anywhere in the New England area.”
All photos provided by Carly Nasznic. Do not use without permission.