Friday, August 15, 2008

A Day in the Life of an Arabian Horse Breeder Photo Shoot - The Second Weekend Part 2

Part 1

So when the Arabian horse wheeled around and headed for parts unknown..........he left me reeling in those draped reins hoping to make contact with his mouth soon. Draped reins may look real pretty when your horse is going slow and under control but when the horse is spooked everything changes..........BIG TIME!!

I didn't start laughing until I had the horse back underneath me and responsive. Then that's all I could do was laugh. The whole scene just seemed so unreal I couldn't help myself.

Let me tell you, laughing doesn't help so much with how the horse wears his ears either. I'm sure that Johnny Johnston wanted to throttle me but he couldn't say much since he'd been barking at me to "smile" for the camera from the start. Then there's my Arabian horse who never has really appreciated being laughed at. Legs even shook his head once and snorted his displeasure at me knowing the laughter was at him. He still hadn't figured out that that "bear" laying on the ground wasn't going to eat him so he didn't "get" my laughter at his expense, poor boy.

I'm pretty sure this is the most unnatural ride I ever had on my horse. All the normal things I think about or try to achieve went out the window. The issues became the correct line of travel for the camera, forward tight ears, draped reins and a smile on my face despite what might come my way. Keeping my seat in the saddle at a "jog" that was a bit animated was also a worry.

What the camera tells and what is really happening can be two very different things.........but then I already knew that because of the beautiful picture taken with the trainer who hadn't taught my horse much of anything. That was my first experience with the fantasy that the camera can create. This time that fantasy was going to work for me.

Our second pass towards that "bear" laying on the ground went much better. My Arabian horse still was convinced that thing on the ground was going to get him but he didn't make a hasty retreat. Instead the horse did a funky side step only to have me laugh at him some more. But he's a pretty smart horse and he began to figure out that my laughing meant there was nothing to fear. With another pass or two, Legs was no longer giving that "bear" a second look. Johnny Johnston had to come up with another trick to get the horse's ears.

There's that one good thing about stallion's and their hormones, they'll always get hooked by the presence of another horse. Some stallions may get excited about any old horse. It doesn't really matter if it's a mare or gelding or another stallion.

But then Legs just isn't any other stallion. To get his attention it took another stallion. The minute he heard the call emerging from the barn his ears locked in tight and never wavered from that direction. When it was time to do close ups, the other stallion was brought in right next to the camera or placed at whatever location that Johnny Johnston wanted to get his "angles."

Since I was part of the "subject matter" for these pictures, I didn't really get yelled at by Johnny Johnston while taking these pictures like I had with the loose horses. At one point he did yell out something about "I thought you said this horse was trained!" To which I responded, "Nope, remember I told you the horse isn't there yet, we're going to have to create this look!" and that seemed to silence him.

However, the poor souls that were trying to get Legs's ear were not so fortunate. Johnny was barking orders left and right and they were scurrying around like little mice.

It was interesting to watch and I began to see what motivated Johnny Johnston...........for him, it's all about the picture. He knows what it takes to get that picture but he has to rely on help from people who don't have a clue what kind of "look" he is trying to create or what to do to get it.

That "look" can change in an instant through whatever response the horse gives. That means the actions of the "crew" must adjust in ways only Johnny and the horse really understand. Since the perfect picture is only there for an instant, Johnny's frustrations at trying to capture that illusive instance just boil over sometimes. I think his intentions are good, just his methods of communicating suck.

Even after all these years he hasn't quite figured out a balance between dealing with the people and accomplishing his art. He's driven by that quest for the "perfect picture" both for himself .........and for his client. Yet there's no way he can get that picture without the help of inexperienced people. It's kind of a set-up from the start. Photographing horses is difficult.........and there's just no way around that.

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

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  1. Well after all that it's a great picture, love the smile, er laugh.

  2. Beautiful picture! Never dremed there was so much involved in taking professional horse photos! I wouldn't have liked to be yelled at though.

  3. better you than me MiKael. I understand wanting to get that photo. But I just am not the kind of person who can make others uncomfortable to get it.

  4. grey horse,yes, it was pretty hectic but it did look like I got some good shots. Thank goodness, I wouldn't want to do it over again. lol

    midlife mom, I got to the point that just didn't take it personally.

    holly, don't get me wrong. I'm not condoning that kind of behavior. I'm just saying I could see what he was trying to do. For me, it made it easier to not take it personally, I guess.....but believe me after three days I was glad for this all to be over.