Monday, July 28, 2008

A Day in the Life of an Arabian Horse Breeder - Photo Shoot

You've just never lived in the equine show community until you've experienced a photo shoot with one of the top Arabian horse photographers in the country. I swear that horse shows are much less stressful than photo shoots with creative types like Jerry Sparagowski, Jeff Little, and Rob Hess among others. But the grandfather of all Arabian horse photographers is probably Johnny Johnston. When it comes to eccentricities I think Johnny Johnston probably makes all the others look like light weights.

I've heard about the legendary Johnny Johnston ever since I first became involved in the Arabian horse community but haven't ever had pictures taken by the man until now. To say that Johnny lived up to his "reputation" would be a gross understatement. I was really glad that I had been forewarned and was prepared for his take charge attitude or I think it probably would have thrown me for a loop.

Rachel and I spent most of the day on Friday bathing and show clipping four horses so that we would be ready for our scheduled times on Saturday morning. It's times like this when I'm getting a number of horses ready that I remember why I only show a couple of horses at a time. Just the preparation it takes seems to go up exponentially with each new head.

By the time I left the barn and headed back home I was wiped and I still had my chores at home to do. Dragging my butt out of bed at O dark thirty was just not going to be good. It's definitely times like this I wonder what in the heck I was thinking I got myself into this mess!

5:30 came even earlier than I expected but Dave helped me feed and water horses here before I got on the road so that helped. The skies were overcast and I was thinking it probably would be a good day for pictures since that's how Jeff Little likes to shoot them. Little did I know that Johnny Johnston couldn't be farther apart in their thoughts on shooting horses.

I arrived at the barn a little earlier than I had expected so that gave me some time to double check to be sure I had all the equipment I needed before I began loading horses. Since I have a three horse slant load trailer, and we were planning on taking pictures of four horses, I was going to have to make two trips.

I figured I would take the three stallions all in the same load. They have travelled that way lots of times and they were scheduled for times slots one right after the other. Then Scandalous Hope was scheduled for later in the afternoon. I could bring the boys home and pick her up and be in great shape.

You know how it goes when you make plans like that.............the horses don't usually agree with the plans. When I began loading up the Arabian horses, I put Legs in his usual first slot. Then followed with Storm in the second only Storm decided he wanted to jump the partition and challenge his dad. It took all my strength to get the horse pulled back out of the trailer.

My heart was pumping ninety miles and hour and I think Storm's must have been going double that rate. Legs on the other hand wasn't the least bit intimidated by Storm. He acted like he hadn't even noticed the assault from his brat son.

I sure don't know what's gotten into Storm lately but it was obvious it wasn't going to work hauling the two horses side by side. So I closed the middle slot off and loaded Storm up in the back. I'd just have to take the horses two by two. Hopefully we could adjust the schedule to accommodate Storm messing with my plans.

When we pulled into Creekwood Farm they were already beginning taking portrait shots. There was a horse with an owner standing in one corner of the driveway. The tripod was set up with the camera but Johnny Johnston waving his arms at our interruption of his picture taking. Our arrival had attracted the horse's attention and instead of looking at the camera, the horse was looking at us..........Johnny wasn't happy to not have that horse's ears or expression. I should have know that this was just the beginning of how a very long day would go.......

To be continued...........

Part 2


  1. You are so fortunate to have Johnny do your photo shoot! I remember admiring his work in Arabian Horse World magazine many years ago. Those will be awesome photos! Hope to see them on your web site soon. :)

  2. Oh dear! I can't wait to hear what happens next and to see the end result!

  3. Oh dear! I am glad you got the trailer situation sorted out at least. I hope it worked out...although I have a strange feeling that it did not because if the photographer was annoyed that you drove in the driveway once I highly doubt he would be thrilled with 2 times.

  4. oh my.

    not the best beginning, huh?

    horse photography is chancy at best I think, but to start off with the young stud deciding today would be his day and then the photographer too......

    good luck MiKael!

  5. I like this photo a lot. I don't like the photo yesterday.

    I don't like to see whips in the hands of people no matter what the reason.

    I have seen people ride wild mustangs with and without saddles and bridles and bits and it was all done with a quiet voice.

  6. Hi I am back and have got all the proofs edited and Larry is getting them up onto the site. I did that before I did anything else so have only just got to catch up on your blog.

    I hope Killer gets a great name, Resurection, or something like that would be appropriate I think. If I think of anything I will let you know. Also that he continues to improve, it sounds like this girl is patient and has what it takes to get it done properly.

    Oh boy photoshoots, they are fun and I can just imagine, dont think I have heard of this photographer but will look online for him. Can't wait for the next instalment.

    Hope Lindsay is well and getting back into her normal routine. (((Hugs)))


  7. dj, yes, I knew of Johnny's reputation and thought at least once I'd like to have my horses photographed by him.

    callie, yes, I can wait to see the end result myself. lol

    onethebit, this was definitely quite an experience.

    holly, thanks, I think luck would probably come in handy on this adventure!

    abraham, you don't have to worry about that whip. It was never used as a whip but only an extention of my arm so I could reach the horse in a manner safe for both of us.

    I use them a lot that way. To reach behind the horse when I am standing beside etc. Whips shouldn't be for beating only for direction.

  8. lori, if you haven't heard of him it's only because of your age. He is in his seventies now and really is considered to be the "father of Arabian horse photography." Back in his day, he set the standard all others tried to follow.

    How did your show go? Glad to hear you are home safely.

  9. Oh, cool! I can't wait to read the rest of the story. I would love to get into equine photography, mainly doing farm shoots/portraits, so I'm really interested in hearing how it went. I hope it went better than it started, though it doesn't sound like it.

  10. In the end I am sure the results will be worth it. Reminds me of the first time I took my son then 7 months for a Christmas photo shoot. By the end of the session I was dripping sweat and needed a drink! But it ended up with a great photo so it was worth the stress.

  11. Can't wait to see how the pictures turn out! I often thumb through my sister's AHW magazines and I just love the photography. I can't imagine photographing horses professionally is easy- maybe even harder than brides, LOL!