BYU student finds balance while running equine photography business


“Organized chaos.”

That is how life in the Little household — composed of Emma, Rylan and Reed Little — is described by Rylan Little. Emma studies biology at BYU, works as a veterinary assistant, runs an equine photography business and trains and rides her own horses, in addition to caring for her and Rylan’s 2-year-old son.

A typical day for Emma includes going to work or school, then taking care of her son Reed, studying, shooting and editing photos or going to see her horses. She relies on careful planning to balance all of her responsibilities. “I just plan it down to the hour or down to a minute really,” she said. 

Emma Little combines her interests in photography and horses in her equine photography business. Her business has grown significantly since she moved to Utah in 2020. (Emma Little)

Emma has had a lifelong interest in photography and got her first camera when she was 12 and got her real start in photography when she began assisting a wedding photographer at 14. She said she always wanted to focus her photography on horses since that is what is most meaningful to her. She started doing photography more seriously when she moved to Utah in 2020. 

Emma photographs English and Western riders, and has been focused on Western lifestyle photography lately. “I think that horses are very personable and I like meeting all the different horses, which a lot of photographers would say about people, but you know, I’m the horse girl,” she said, “and I think that they make for really cool pictures that people like.”

Emma said social media has helped her business succeed, citing Instagram reels, Facebook posts and word of mouth as contributing factors. Her Instagram account has over 5,000 followers. Bryn Atwood, who is Rylan’s childhood friend and also models for Emma’s photography business, said of Emma, “She’s really smart and like staying ahead of like, the curve with what trends are and whatever and it sort of grows from there.”

Atwood said a big step for Emma was reaching out to companies to get brand deals. Atwood said she encouraged her to take the leap, saying rejection was the worst thing that could happen. Emma’s efforts have been successful, with one current brand deal and another one on the way, which is a big step for photographers in gaining more exposure. 

Emma said she wants to continue expanding her business in the future and do more traveling for photoshoots. 

Emma also works about 25 hours a week as a veterinary assistant, where she assists with a variety of tasks and said every day looks different. This time of year, the vet clinic does a lot with cows and bulls and helps mares get ready for breeding season, along with other general care procedures, she said. Her experience at the vet clinic also helps her take care of her own horses. 

Emma has her own mare, Cinder, that she hopes to breed this year, as well as another horse, Spade. She started riding horses when she joined her grandmother’s riding program when she was eight and has been riding ever since. 

A typical day at the barn has Emma working on training her two horses to be ridden both English and Western, and to be prepared for anything. Cinder is particularly attached to Emma, she said, and will gallop up to her in the pasture. She said she hopes to go to some local competitions this year, if her horses’ health permits. 

Emma Little enjoys connecting with horses and their people, and has a lot of experience with Western lifestyle photography. Pictured is Little’s own horse, Cinder. (Emma Little)

Emma often takes her son with her on photoshoots, and takes care to watch out for his safety when he is around horses. Balancing a family along with everything else can be challenging, but Emma said her husband Rylan is a big help as he stays home and cares for Reed most of the time. 

“I try not to have anything else going on that would take away from him getting the nourishment and the opportunities that little kids need,” Rylan said.

Those who know Emma describe her as driven and hard working. “In a word, Emma’s busy,” Atwood said. “She’s just one of those people who puts her head down and gets to work.”

Maleah Telaroli met Emma while working together at a haunted house. “She has a very driven, strong personality. She’s a very independent woman,” she said.  

Rylan describes his wife as having a go-getting attitude. “Nothing stops her from obtaining what she wants. And that’s admirable,” he said.

The Littles moved to Provo from Alberta, Canada, so that Emma could attend BYU. When she decided she wanted to continue her schooling, Rylan said they did everything possible to make that happen.

“Up in Alberta, I couldn’t go to school, like it was so so expensive,” Emma said. “Coming down here to Utah and BYU has helped a lot. Definitely my parents have been super supportive and my husband has been super supportive of anything that I want to do.”

Emma was drawn to BYU for the cheap tuition, but also because of how oriented towards Christ everything is, and she enjoys being around those with similar beliefs to her. ”It forces me to study the scriptures and study more about Christ, which I think is enriching in itself,” she said.

Emma Little is a student, photographer, veterinary assistant and equestrian. Little talks about her photography business and her experience with horses. (Annika Ohran)

Emma originally wanted to be a veterinarian, but her plans have since changed. She said she hopes her degree can give her something to fall back on as she works toward balancing and pursuing her other dreams. 

Emma’s advice to other students who are trying to achieve their goals is to get a planner. “Write it down to the hour and just make it happen. Sometimes that really sucks, but the only thing you can do I think is just buckle down and do it,” she said. 

Emma also attributes her progress in life to her faith. “I think just having a foundation in just trusting God has helped because I’ve done a lot of things that have been kind of scary that I didn’t think I was ready for and they’ve turned out just fine and they’ve turned out great,” she said.

Some of Emma’s plans for the future include having another two-legged and four-legged baby join the family, as she said they hope to have another child to play with their son and want to breed their mare. She also said she hopes to expand her business and travel more, graduate from BYU and possibly move back to Canada and work towards purchasing her own farm.

“We’ll just kind of see where life takes us in that regard,” Emma said. 

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