I often get ideas for various projects, but don’t always that often get to create them in to a lasting reality. A few weeks ago with the help of the team at Harroway stables I was able to bring one of my ideas to life.
I have always loved the elegance of side saddle, and when younger was lucky enough to ride in a musical ride side saddle on my pony, but other than occasionally at shows and events have not had the luck of a side saddle client. Until now!
Lucinda the owner of Harroway became a client last year, when she commissioned me to produce some portraits of her daughter Olivia’s horses for her birthday. For those that don’t know Lucinda, she her family and team, are the queens of side saddle (never mind riding in general) and she was therefore the natural choice to contact with this project in mind.
A date was arranged for both Olivia and Pippa (who assists with the running of the yard, and is also an incredibly accomplished side saddle rider) which their mounts Poppet and Charlie to be my models. On arrival final preparations were taking place polishing the ponies, a bit of a challenge when both are grey and the current forecast is mud with added mud! It was at this point that it started snowing, which of course wasn’t forecast, so we sheltered undercover with the hope it would pass quickly. Thankfully it did so we decided to crack on!
We started in the outdoor school firstly to desensitise the horses, which took all of about 30 seconds, and also to get a few action shots which when lit give the impression the rider is riding down the centre line at HOYs under spotlights, not that they are cantering in reality in an outdoor school in daylight!
We then moved on to the cross country schooling field, the only one free from mud, and managed to find a location with a suitable background and not too close to the various cross country fences. This was the shot I envisioned and was my main aim of the day. I wanted to produce a portrait that illustrated the traditional elegance of side saddle but also contained the drama of a Romanticism painting similar to that of George Stubbs.
The departing snow clouds were perfect in creating a dramatic sky with glimpses of blue shining through. First I photographed Olivia and Poppet before bringing in Pippa and Charlie. When then moving to Pippa on her own with Charlie the last clouds disappeared from overhead (although not behind in shot) so leaving them in bright sunshine. My strobe lights are incredibly powerful so this didn’t ruin the photos but did create a different look to those of Pippa with the additional lighting source and a bit of editing was required on the background whereas for Olivia there was none required.
To finish off the session we heading back down to the yard and the indoor school for some full on black background images. Had it been cloudy still they could have been done outdoors but as it was bright sunshine a degree of shade was required so the indoor was perfect. We had a particular image in mind of Charlie bending round photographed from his other side over his back. This is a photograph I have taken with many horses but Charlie wasn’t proving that co-operative at first, but thankfully with time running out we managed to get him to pose beautifully to get the image.
I was thrilled with the final results as thankfully were Lucinda, Pippa and Olivia. The image of Pippa & Olivia as a pair is a particular favourite and totally mirrors what I had envisioned from the session.
Next week I will weather dependant hopefully be bringing another vision to reality so keep watch!