This is the photograph that changed my life

This is the photograph that changed my life. Bold words, you may think, but they’re words that happen to be true.

Back in 2006 I was a keen amateur photographer, creating landscape and flower images in my spare time away from a busy full-time job in London.  I ‘d also been a horse rider since childhood. So when I came across some photographs of the white horses of the Camargue in France I was captivated and knew I had to visit the region and try and create my own images.

I tracked down a guy who could help me, hopped on a flight to Marseille and spent a weekend stood in marshy water watching these beautiful equines. For those who are interested in kit, I had only an entry level digital camera, a Canon EOS 350D and a cheap 70-300mm lens. This meant that my autofocus was very slow and my frames per second were perhaps two at best.  Not the most robust kit for action photography and most of my images from that weekend trip were blurred or poorly composed.

However this one – created when the lead horse in a group of four turned at the last minute as they approached me – stood out as soon as I viewed it on the computer. The head held high, the movement in the mane, the powerful front leg action and the water droplets from the deep marsh all combined to produce a magical moment.

And led me to want to improve my horse photography and create more equine images.  For the next 10 years I made regular trips to France, Portugal and the USA to photograph horses. I captured galloping herds of quarter horses, majestic Lusitano stallions, the canter of hooves along an empty beach and many quiet, gentle moments too. My understanding of composition, light and technical skills improved. I started to sell my images through galleries, took part in exhibitions, self-published a book with the help of Envisage Books and was invited to teach horse photography for Lacock Photography.

A few years ago I learned how to use flash so that I could control the lighting and backgrounds and create stylish equine portraiture anywhere, and that led me to a change in career and to launch Equus Photography. Today I undertake commissions for clients who book me to photograph their own horses, and I teach horse photography to other photographers. I’m starting to do some commercial photography and have plans to offer some new training courses next year.

And this change of direction would never have happened if I hadn’t captured this image in France back in 2006.

Camargue horses by Lisa Mardell

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