This is just one travel adventure of a professional horse photographer.
In July of 2015 I was boarding a plane out of Phoenix Sky Harbor airport bound for Oregon in search of a great horse photograph. I was eager, as well as incredibly excited for the opportunity ahead of me. I packed light so that I could bring all of my Nikon photography equipment for the pre-arranged shoot. I chose a different horse photography workshop this year. I decided on horses running on the beach.
As a professional fine art horse photographer I had always envisioned photographing a beautiful horse galloping elegantly across the sand, in and out of the waves along the shore, the mane and tail flowing in the wind… This was what I was dreaming of throughout the flight.
Arriving in Eugene, Oregon I had a night’s stay before I drove to Florence and checked into the Landmark Inn. The photography workshop director, Tamara Gooch had set it up so that all of us could stay together there, making it easy to get to and from our ultimate destination on the beach to photograph an Andalusian Stallion and Friesian Stallion owned by Ashley Morgan Rhodes. Boy were we all excited about this opportunity for some fun and great career changing photography, not to mention some sun on the beaches of the Northwestern United States.
We had already looked up the time that the sun would set and headed out for our adventure. When we arrived in the parking lot of the location shoot we gathered our gear and began the trek out onto the beach. Little did I know, this ½ mile stroll to the water turned out to be part of Jillian Micheal’s leg workout routine from the Biggest Loser show! It was no stroll! The sand was deep and my shoes were full after the first few steps. With no time to waste and the sun setting we trekked onward. The wind didn’t seem too bad until we crested the first large dune.
By the time we hit the beach we were in the middle of a full on sand storm. Thankfully, being a prepared professional photographer I had just purchased a new lens filter so the sand beating on my lens was not the main issue. I was however wishing for gloves, a jacket and a scarf that were all safely left at home in my closet. But I was out there to photograph horses on the beach and I wasn’t going home without the shot! As I raised my camera to get the first glimpse of Xander the Friesian coming over the dunes I was shocked to see this staring back at me.
The wind was so strong that his long flowing black mane became a tangled mess of horse hair. He was hardly recognizable under what looked like a giant ball of yarn. In spite of the conditions we carried on with the shoot.
For 2 hours we stood out in the wind and shot like crazy trying to get THE horse photograph we had all come for. I clicked the shutter furiously hoping that one shot might reveal his face under his windswept mane. I had my heart set on it. This was my photography workshop for the year. With frozen fingers and sand everywhere the sun set and we headed back to our cars. Up the hill, down the hill, up another hill and so on with my feet loaded down with the extra 5 pounds of sand in each shoe.
Unlike other shoots where I rush to download my card to see what I got-my first priority this night was a glass of wine and a hot bath. Once all the sand and soreness was left in the tub, wine in hand, I began the download process. With the changing of each frame I felt like I was on a wild roller coaster ride. I wondered if I would get my beautiful horse photograph after all. Much to my delight one stood out above all the rest. This magnificent, beautiful horse seemed to defy the weather and wild wind and stood his ground in the sand storm.
Normally you will come away with four or five really great shots per workshop, I feel like I came away with a career changing collection due to this one workshop! I would like to acknowledge that while I am talking about the rough weather and lamenting about the hikes in the sand, I loved this workshop and all that I was able to produce from it! I would also say that Tamara Gooch, the photographer who arranged and held the workshop, made herself and her skills available to all of us! I would take another workshop with her in a heart beat and am thrilled at all that has come out of it both personally and professionally! Thank you, Tamara Gooch! I look forward to working with you in the future.
If you’d like to see the collection of images from this particular photography workshop, click here to see “Wind Swept Manes.“