Sunday, December 4, 2011

Poster Child

By Kitson

So the glossy two-sided poster from the Jan/Feb 2012 Young Rider is in my hands and, as I’m looking for the tape to put it up on the wall of my sons’ room, I need to decide: galloping Haflinger or saucy Icelandic foal close up? As documented before on, I love Haflingers, but this time I’m going to go with the Icelandic. There’s something irresistible about that wind-blasted forelock, those impulsive eyes and the sharp contrast between his brown and white markings. Which would you choose?

Photos by Lesley Ward
Both of these great poster pics were taken by Young Rider Executive Editor, Lesley Ward, who kindly agreed to let republish them. I asked her a few questions about her adventures in horse photography. Here’s what she had to say:

Anything fun happen while you were photographing the Icelandic horses?
Shooting foals can always be a bit dangerous. They are usually pretty inquisitive and will charge at me and my expensive photo gear. They follow me around a little too closely and always make me nervous. One time I was chased out of a field by an overly protective mule named Joe Cool.

How do you ask people to prepare the horses?
I just ask that the horses are clean and tidy. A lot of time, I’ll go out for a riding shoot and spot loose horses I want to take pictures of. Sometimes they’re not so clean so you just have to be creative and shoot from the clean side if there is one. Some of the Icelandics were pretty muddy.

How do you get the horses to pose/run?
I have a small tape recorder a friend gave me on which she recorded feeding time at Keeneland. It has horses whinnying on it nonstop. Turn it on and everyone in the field becomes alert. They know it’s a horse, but not one they recognize. Always gets horses to run around. It’s perfect for portrait shots too. The ears always come forward. 

For the Haflinger in the poster, the owner turned the horse out by herself so she ran to the herd. I was waiting for her to approach and pass. It was set up. It only works for a while though. Eventually they catch on and come over to investigate. It’s how I get all the ears forward on the adoption picture area of the site. Check it out.

How did you get started in horse photography?
As a writer on several horse magazines in England, I worked closely with photographers setting up shoots. When I launched Young Rider in the United States, I figured it would be cheaper if I took the pictures for the magazine. I’m also a control freak and really wanted to do everything myself. I still do. So, I bought the best camera and lens I could afford at the time and jumped in. I truly believe that the more expensive the lens you use, the better your pictures will be! My photography skills got better as the years went on, simply because I was taking so many photos.

What is the best part of your job as executive editor of Horse Illustrated and Young Rider?
Getting to work with and around horses, of course! It’s great when you can mix your personal hobbies and passions with a job. I also love to be able to get out of the office and go on photo shoots and attend equine events. I would hate to be stuck at a desk every day. It’s also nice to work in an office full of people who ride and own horses too.

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