I live in Australia, and most of my professional work to date has been with thoroughbred horses. I do this both as an accredited member of the racing press at racetracks across Australia and as a commercial photographer for stud farms and yearling sale companies. It's a very niche industry, and one that I am looking to expand out of somewhat. I also enjoy photographing birds and cats and live theatre when the opportunity presents itself. Pre COVID we began travelling to Europe and doing some stallion and racetrack photography in Ireland, France and England, and am hoping to return to this in 2024.
Although much of my work is necessarily shot using either available light and on camera flash, over the course of the last 6 or so year I've been integrating off camera flash into my work with stallions as a way of continuing to improve my product and to keep innovating how I approached a commercial shoot. While some farms were originally sceptical, saying that the flash equipment would startle the horses, most of my clients have now embraced this and the stallions also become accustomed to the equipment. A stationary Lightbox is more predicable than the reflectors we originally started using, and when used outdoors they really helped fill in the harsh shadows created by the strong Australian light. Lots of stud masters lament cloudy days as well, and being able to incorporate off camera flash has meant we have been able to continue to produce strong commercial imagery despite the gloomy conditions. We've been experimenting with backlights to help 'lift' the horse off the background and where possible we've started doing indoor studio sessions as well. This is a great use of time during windy or rainy weather, and it also means we can be usefully shooting during the middle of the day when usually we can't work with the horses because the light is so strong and so overhead. We have gradually acquired more lights and more MagMod equipment as well, and I really love these products because I find them easy to use. I came across FlashMasters through the recent "How I shot it" MagMod video special with Neil Redfern, and as a result have joined FlashMasters because I'd love to be part of a community where it's possible to share ideas and improve this work further. I'm really interested to start using some of the coloured gels with some of my upcoming stallion shoots as well to see what results I can get with these.
One of the challenges is that sometimes I have the horse absolutely perfectly lit, but it may have a foot in the wrong spot, which makes it's conformation look less than ideal and stud masters are unforgiving with positioning, or we run into the times that the stallion has to cover mares, so it's a constant juggle of staff availability, stallion workload, and the time it takes to work to guide the stallion into an attractive yet correct poise, without them always been compliant or patient, so there's a lot of moving of lights and the camera around simply because my subject refused to stand at 'x marks the spot'!