Photography Friday: Izze’s Senior Portraits

Last weekend I ran around the American Tobacco Campus, a Durham landmark, with Izze for her senior portraits. Izze is an accomplished rider who just recently earned her bronze medal in dressage, and captain of her school’s field hockey team. It was a joy getting to spend time together away from the barn and have her do all sorts of ridiculous things for my camera!

Next week I’m off to Fair Hill to do some photography- anyone else going to the 3***?

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Photography Friday: OSSbourne

Ossbourne is a special pony with more accolades than horses twice his size. He’s competed in both Europe and the States, trained up thru PSG, and has given no less than 7 riders the opportunity to earn their Bronze medals! Such a unique guy deserved a send off with all the bells and whistles, and I was so happy to be able to capture these sweet moments between Kim and OSS before he headed north to be another little girl’s unicorn!

We will miss you around the barn OSS, and wishing you many happy trails in your new home! Happy Friday everyone!

Photography Friday: Frog Pond Farm

When I received a phone call from Helen, she mentioned that she wanted some photos with her heart horse, Othello. Her sweet partner had been dealing with multiple health issues, and it was important to capture their relationship in images while he was still with her. I was touched beyond belief to hear her speak, and absolutely agreed to come to her farm. The photos we took of Othello and the other occupants of the farm are some of my favorites of late, and I feel so blessed to have been a part of this special day. Othello has now crossed the rainbow bridge, but he will forever live on in these images and in the hearts of the ones who loved him.

Give your ponies a hug, everyone, and happy Friday.

Photography Friday: Nicole and Logan

When fellow home-town equestrian, Nicole, reached out to me about doing her engagement portraits with her fiance Logan, I was all in. Two gorgeous horses, a simply stunning summer evening (75* in June- inconceivable!) , and just the most glorious light you have ever seen- this is the romantic session any photographer could wish for!

Logan proposed at the Carolina Horse Park, and its obvious that he is a wonderful horse husband in the making. The two are working on building their dream farm all while planning their wedding, which will be Rolex weekend! I’m so thrilled to have been a part of this special moment for these two, and can’t wait to see all the amazing things they will accomplish together!

Happy Friday all!

Photography Friday: Black background Mania

In the last couple weeks my photoshop fingers have been running at full speed trying to keep up with the number of photography requests I have had. Not that I am complaining one bit- I LOVE getting to show these owners how stunning their horses are through these portraits.

Having so many at once has also allowed me to refine my editing style, which (at the risk of sounding snobby) I’ve come to think of as slightly more ‘fine art’ than my previous edits. With more horses to shoot next week, I’m definitely excited to build some momentum around my photography and hopefully keep that ball rolling!

Happy Friday all, and enjoy your weekend!

Photography Friday: Black Background Photos Behind the scenes

Black background images are all the rage right now, and it’s easy to see why. So simple in their essence, they are a study of the horse as a form with an extra dash of drama.Any photographer worth their salt will tell you that the best way to do these images is in camera, and I completely agree. They mostly require a center aisle that allows light to be blocked in such a way that you achieve a distinctive difference between light and dark (shadow and well, not shadowed). Even better if either the aisle then is a very long one, or has doors at the opposite end that prevents light from seeping into the background. This is less commonly available, so is a nice-to-have rather than a necessary component.

So at the risk of ruining the magic, here are a couple examples of what I see in-camera versus the final product.

In this photo, and the image below, you can see a frequent participant in my photoshoots: a giant blue squeaky toy. Sometimes the horses could care less when something so bright and blue and loud is seemingly dying beneath their nose. Other times, you get what I call the dragon pose, where the horse elongates and arches his neck and there becomes a definite spark to their overall expression. That, as Cinderella demonstrates below, is my favorite way to show off these horses as the athletes they are.

As you can see, there is a variance in how much editing a particular shot will require. My job when I show up to do one of these images is to utilize the given environment to the best of my ability, then consider the horse/model’s best features and how to pose them and show them off. Then, it’s about reading the light, making the right decisions for settings on my camera, and spending time in post-processing (I use both lightroom and photoshop) to create the final image.

And there you have it folks! A peek behind the curtain on the ever-popular black background photo! Happy Friday all!

The End of an Era

This week, I helped put my family’s last two equines, a mini-donk and my beloved Riley, on the market. As the youngest of my siblings has now officially graduated from high school, my parents are preparing to become empty nesters, and as such, are planning to sell their 6 acre equestrian property and transition to a much smaller house, with less acreage to tend for, and that plan sadly does not include horses.

My mother has taken care of horses since she was a little girl, across more than 4 countries and as many decades. She said to me in regards to the horses that after so many years of horse-stewardship, and watching the horses become less and less used in the backyard, that she was tired. And in my personal opinion, maybe a little sad, to see such loved family members not be doted on any more.

My last couple trips down to my parents’ home have included taking sales photos and making videos where applicable of the horses still there. My dad’s horse, Cochise (pictured above), is a butterball of a spotted draft cross, and his main goal in life is to be a couch. He has now been placed with a veteran’s therapy program in New Jersey, and I couldn’t be more thrilled with this practically perfect match for him.

It’s a little more bittersweet thinking of the other two finding homes beyond my family’s backyard. Hudson, the mini-donkey, has been in our family since he was 3 months old and we found him at an auction as a sickly orphan wedged in a 3′ wide space between two stalls. For the last 7 years he has been the source of much entertainment, chasing the German Shepherds around and braying for ear scratches when someone gets within range. Luckily, there was essentially a facebook-brawl to get to Hudson, and he is very securely spoken for and to be picked up this weekend.

Which leaves Riley. He, of course, has been with the family longest of all. He’s the product of two of our personal horses, and though people looked at us squiggly-eyed when we said we bred an Irish Draught x Haflinger, he’s been exactly what we were hoping for and some. I taught him to lead, crosstie, bathe, flyspray, and together with B, started him under saddle. I got to spend some more quality time with him last summer and fell in love with him all over again. All I can say is I hope whoever is lucky enough to end up with this guy appreciates a horse who rests his head on your shoulder when you scratch under his chin, who grabs the hose to drink out of it before he will stand to be bathed, and who had more athleticism and ability in him than we ever found time to tap. It’s going to be tough having this one belong to someone else, that’s for sure.

I can’t imagine how I will feel when I visit my parents and see not a single equine out in the fields. For years, it was my duty to feed the horses, so much that when I went to college I often woke in a panic realizing I hadn’t done the chore already. But beyond the habit of having horses in my life, and theirs, it is bittersweet to me to think of how others will enjoy the products of our love, in a home beyond our own.

An Update on Life, Loss, and the BDH

Last week, my father-in-law passed away. I won’t be elaborating on this, as it’s going to take some time for our broken hearts to heal. That’s just the way it goes.

In our thoughts and prayers

Life has been a whirlwind recently, but as time marches on a few things have progressed:

  • We are now 3 days from my first (what?!) recognized dressage show with TC
  • The BDH passed his PPE with my personal vet, who gave him two thumbs up
  • Our showjumping lesson was postponed to tomorrow, with a XC lesson the following Monday
  • Now that I am jumping things again, I found motivation to create things to torture horses with (see below)

I hope to have an update tomorrow on how the showjumping lesson goes, which we are trailering out to for a 7:30am (ick) lesson. Media to follow!