A recent commissioned horse photo shoot close to home was with a horse named Apache.
This photo shoot developed the same as most do. I received an email from a woman who shared with me how much she had enjoyed seeing my horse art. The woman, model Nicole Zuelke wrote to me about her horse Apache and had hoped that someday I could photograph her mare. You would think that I would be excited about photographing a professional model, but those that really know me and follow me are aware that I don’t like to photograph people very often. When a person appears in my images they are typically hidden by a cowboy hat or is silhouetted.
My big exception to this was a photo shoot with model and horse trainer, Ashley Morgan Rhodes and her amazing Stallions.
Well, Nicole is in front of the camera all the time and fortunately only wanted photographs of her appaloosa mare, Apache so it was a perfect fit.
Commissioned horse photo turns to horse art photo
Not all of the photographs I take of horses are destined to be used for fine art. Occasionally, I am able to transform a commissioned horse photo into equine fine art for the gallery. Even more rare is when the horse owner, directs me with ideas of how to manipulate the photo. Nicole was totally into collaborating with me. She did not want a standard generic photo of Apache- she wanted emotionally moving horse art to hang on her wall that just happened to include her own horse. Turns out, that is why she asked me to photograph her horse.
This was really fun. I will continue to work with the images taken that day but I already have several that really have been transformed. Nicole will be framing these to hang in her home and her rental home.
Nicole Zuelke shares with me…
“My mom used to put me on the front of her saddle and take me on trail rides when I was only 2 years old. I started showing horses in western pleasure classes when I was 4, and by the time I was 11 I was competing in cutting and reining. Horses were always such a big part of my life. There was a handful of years right before I met Apache that I did not ride. I felt like something was missing in my life and I started having dreams 3-4 nights a week of riding horses. I was skimming thru a local equine sales site one day and saw a picture of Apache. I immediately fell in love with her. It really wasn’t a flattering photo of her at all. She had her winter scruffy coat, head hanging and looking a bit lazy. I still couldn’t help but call to find out more about her. It took a few rides to really earn her trust but after that we were inseparable.
In the couple of years I’ve owned her we have done a photo shoot together for Stetson, Ranch Road Boots, YOGASMOGA and most recently with Jody Miller. Apache is so smart, and I swear she poses for the camera! It is hilarious. Sometimes when we both need the exercise but I don’t have time to ride so we go for jogs. No halter or lead line. She just trots along side me. I’ve owned many horses throughout my lifetime, but Apache is different. She is truly unique. ”
“Carry me to the plains of great bliss, where I shall gallop with you.”- Nicole Zuelke
More images of Apache are below. I was challenged by shooting in between houses and distracting backgrounds but I made do and performed a little bit of manipulation in Photoshop.
Her work can be viewed online here in her gallery section, and she is also featured at these Arizona Galleries: Van Gogh’s Ear Gallery on Whiskey Row in Prescott, AZ and Coops Coffee House at Talking Rock Ranch. Gift Shop at The Phippen Western Art Museum