Life as Horse & Hound’s retained photographer is manic, stressful but incredibly good fun. It gives me the opportunity to travel around the world photographing the best riders in equestrian sport competing at the highest level.
Last week I was in Herning, Denmark — this week my office has moved to Malmo, Sweden. It’s a bit like chalk and cheese. With 3 championships taking place and simultaneous action in 2 adjacent arenas, last week was a particularly mammoth effort. Although the venue was compact, there was a lot of running around to ensure we got all the shots we needed for both the H&H website and the magazine across all 3 disciplines. You need to be fit in this profession!
With so much going on, I started photographing around 8am and finished around 8pm after selecting, editing and filing the pictures for the H&H website. Then it was time for a quick bite to eat, before sitting back down in front of my laptop for captioning for the magazine until gone midnight. Then up again for more of the same the following day.
With just the one discipline to focus on this week, my days aren’t quite so long, but it’s still full-on. Being organised and planning ahead, while remaining flexible and able to react as situations unfold, is key.
I’ve walked the cross-country course several times ahead of today’s competition. Firstly I’ve walked it as a rider would to get an idea of the lines they will be taking and the options that are available at various fences. Then I walked it a second time as a photographer to work out where I need to position myself to get the right angles for my shots. I also use this walk to time how long it will take me to get from point A to point B at various locations around the course as you don’t want to miss important riders when you are moving locations. It looks like we are going to be allowed to walk inside the ropes, so I shouldn’t have too many bottlenecks of spectators to negotiate, which can sometimes be a problem.
I’m hoping to get pictures of around 12 fences during the competition today and I need both landscape and portrait shots so the editorial team have a selection to work with. I’m also on the hunt for an image that would be suitable for the magazine’s cover, although I do have tomorrow’s final showjumping phase as an option for that.
Cross-country day is always a highlight of my job — it’s a real adrenaline rush. Once you have the running order you can make a plan of where you want to be for which riders. Then it’s a case of grab your packed lunch and head out on to the course. Eating and drinking is done little and often. I’ve found the secret is to not to eat or drink too much as it’s unlikely I’ll have time for a toilet break!
Malmo is a fantastic venue and it’s ripe for some super pictures. Being in the city centre, it’s a bit like Greenwich, but as well as the cityscape, it’s also right on the beach so there is going to be some really unusual juxtapositions of horses against the landscape.
I hope my pictures will help bring the event to life for those of you unable to be here.