Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Chat With Horse Photographer Sue Stickle

By Kitson

In this fantastic image, Sue catches gold-medal event rider Stuart Tinney at the World Equestrian Games in 2010

For years Sue Stickle’s fantastic photos have given a lot of wow-factor to articles I’ve written for horse magazines. Recently I blogged about my article in this month’s Dressage Today, which ended up as the February 2012 cover – I’m guessing  – largely because of Sue’s beautiful image of Tuny Page demonstrating a booming extended trot on her Grand Prix mare, Alina.

This week, Sue’s at home in Bradenton, Florida and will head back to Florida’s east coast to cover the Palm Beach Dressage Derby this weekend in Wellington. I chatted with Sue recently and she indulged me with a quick interview for TheSweetFeed.com. Here’s what she had to say about her career as an amazing horse photographer:

K: How did you get into horse photography?
S: I kept my horse at a dressage barn and would photograph the other boarders at shows. There were never photographers at shows back then unless it was a regional championship. Other competitors started asking me to shoot their rides and it developed from there.

K: Where’s your home base?
S: Our home is in Florida, on the west coast where it's very laid back and relaxing! My family is still in New Jersey, where I was born and lived until 2001. I sold my Chestnut thoroughbred mare when I started mailing in my monthly board checks. I didn't think it was fair to her. We had gotten so busy with the business that we didn't have time to spend with the horses.

K: What’s a typical week like for you?
S: My work week generally starts on Friday, about the same time that everyone else is getting excited to have a couple days off I'm just going to work. We're normally at the shows between 7 and 7:30 a.m., and we don't leave until the last ride is over. If I'm working for the press, I get their photos out before I leave the showgrounds. Once the show is over the administrative part of the job kicks in. After all the images that were shot over the weekend have been downloaded, backed-up and cataloged we start the process of editing. We get the galleries online for the riders who requested photos, answer emails, etc, etc. Generally we're just about done with one show when another one is starting up! 

K: What’s the best part about your job?
S: Being around the horses, getting to know the riders, photographing the very first Prix St George ride of a horse I shot as a four year old in training level, or a two month old in the field.

K: What’s the hardest part about your job?
S: The travel!  We have five dogs and a cat. Three of the dogs (and the cat most of the time) travel with us and two of the dogs stay with Jonna's mom. And it's hard being away from home for long periods of time.

K; What is your best memory photographing horses?
S: One of my favorite, and best, memories is from meeting Secretariat in Kentucky back in the 80's. He is still my favorite horse. Along with Ravel, Smarty Jones, Udon & Peron.

K: Any favorite photos?
S: That's a tough one. I have so many!  One of my more recent favorites is of Totilas that I shot at the 2010 WEG, right how it's hanging in our living room! But I also have one from cross country and Rolex and another of Mclain Ward at the 2010 WEG. So that's really a tough call.

K: What are you up to this Olympic year?
S: Going to London, baby!! I'll be shooting the equestrian venue in Greenwich. I'm very excited to be going, in addition to seeing London, and maybe the Millennium Bridge, I'll be shooting the best in the world.
Courtney King Dye enters the arena at the 2008 Olympics, photo courtesy of Sue

Good luck, Sue! We look forward to seeing your incredible equestrian images during and after the Olympics this year. Thanks for chatting and sharing your wonderful photos with TheSweetFeed.com.

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