Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Capturing that Kodak Moment

Because of my job as a contributing editor to Horse Illustrated, I've participated in quite a few photo shoots. Many times over the years I've been asked to model trendy riding apparel which gave me a front row seat to what was going to be the next Big Thing in equestrian fashion.

Though I don't do it much any more, I have also served as a demonstrator, where I read through the manuscript of a training article as if I'm reading a script. And then I have to hop on a horse and execute the exercise precisely as it should be done in a perfect world. That can be a little stressful, because I have to ride in front of my editor who wants the perfect shot, and also in front of a professional photographer who wants the same thing. Being a demonstrator model gives me a sense of what it's like to shoot a movie. It's almost as if I can hear a director saying, "Cut! Come on, Cindy, do it again, but now try not to grimace when you're cantering the horse over that jump without your irons for the seventeenth time!"

Fortunately, you only see the successful shots online at Horse Channel or in the pages of Horse Illustrated . You aren't treated to the so-called outtakes where things go slightly awry: the arena becomes too dusty; a horse flicks an ear back at the wrong instant; either horse or rider can't get in the groove to perform; or the weather suddenly changes, ruining the lighting.

A great professional equine photographer can minimize the number of outtakes thanks to their talent, training and experience. That's a good thing, because once a horse becomes bored with repeating the same shot over and over again, no one is going to have fun. Wally, for example, has modeled all sorts of tack-- both English and western-- for magazine articles and books because he's photogenic and has conformation that suits both disciplines. He'll strike a pose as long as someone just out of the shot is dangling a carrot or a plastic bag of peppermints in front of his nose. But even Wally catches on after a while. You know Wally is bored when he exhales a big, heavy breath that oozes, "Oh brother, can we get this over with?"

My time spent on photo shoots is one of the reasons I'm always delighted to see the photographs that are sent in to Horse Illustrated's annual photo contest. I have great respect for anyone who can capture the beauty and spirit of a horse with a camera. The other reason I enjoy browsing through the entries is because I just like looking at lovely photos of lovely horses. Though the winners were presented in the current issue of Horse Illustrated, you can click on this link that takes you back to Horse Channel so you can see the photos that received Honorable Mention:

Pretty As a Picture

I hope you find them to be a visual treat, just as I did!

You can always email me at: or share your thoughts by clicking on "comments" below.


Anonymous said...

ah, i do remember a picture of you demonstrating a crest release........

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