Tuesday, August 19, 2008

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

Once we finished photographing Reflection, I loaded my two Arabian stallions up going back to the barn. We needed to swap out Arabian horses so we could bring the two that Rachel wanted photographed back to Creekwood Farm.

Colleen stayed behind visiting with Johnny Johnston and evidently discussing me as a breeder, Legs walking off when I mounted and other such horsey things. By the time we got back to Creekwood Farm, Colleen and Johnny Johnston were getting along famously and talking cameras and how to shoot horses and dogs and who knows what else.......oh ya, and what kind of camera Ray (Colleen's husband) needs to buy to get good pics of my horses.

Also, during this conversation (any many others) Johnny Johnston apologized a bunch of times for his yelling. He explained that his voice does not carry so people can't hear him and he yells to be heard. He was right about that..............he yells all right................and his voice doesn't carry. But it's not really the yelling, so much, as his obvious frustration that intimidates people. Clearly Johnny Johnston is aware of the problem but not so aware of how to fix it.

As someone who has problems with my voice carrying, I can understand that. I also know how it comes across to others. Then there's the fact that I can get pretty intense (partly because of my double vision and partly because I'm just intense!) so I believe I can strike people sometimes just like Johnny Johnston does. I also know it's not so easy to fix.

I guess that's why I was more tolerant of him that others. I tried to look past that behavior and see the person underneath. I was glad I did. I managed to learn quite a lot about the man and what he believes in. It was worth my time.

It was during these conversations at breaks that I had first began to see a different side to Johnny Johnston. Now on this second day, the same thing was happening. Without the pressure of "getting the shot" a different man presents himself to the world.

He's still very opinionated but not so pushy and given the chance I found he could actually change his mind and even learn a thing or two...............and believe me, I am just the person to push such things. We had more than one lively debate about horse handling, horse politics, breeding, and all sorts of things.

The rest of the time photographing horses was more of the same, only for me there was much less stress. Since I had the pictures that I needed done, I was able to focus on trying to understand just exactly what Johnny Johnston was looking for and figuring out how to accomplish that.

I think it was the third day that I realized that Johnny Johnston wanted the horse turning into the fence..........not away. In his mind if the horse turned away from the fence it was going to run down the middle instead of next to the rail. Then it would be too close to the camera and he would be unable to shoot.

While that made sense to me as far as settings on the camera go, I didn't think a turn away from the fence meant the horse would run down the middle. Johnny Johnston's reply to my thinking was "Well, unless you have a barn full of horses that can sit on their butts and turn........that's exactly what you'll get."

I had to laugh! Of course, I have a barn full of horses that can roll back in the corners....................."doesn't everyone??" I asked. Johnny shook his head.......but after I knew what he wanted in those corners, I was sure better able to deliver. But you can bet when a horse turned inwards, I made sure it stayed against that rail. Johnny soon began to see that I could keep those horses where he wanted most of the time.

I let him know that I had just figured out that he wanted the turn towards the fence. Johnny responded he thought he made that clear on the first day. He actually did pretty well at listening to me explain it was probably too much information, too fast for everyone. Then I had missed most "training" sessions because I was the one handling the horse in hand during those times.

Thinking about it, I have to admit that I did see an advantage to turning the horse into the rail, however. When that horse is turned into the rail, it comes out of the corner with it's inside shoulder raised up nicely. Then when the horse moves off down the rail, it "pops up" in a more bold move than when it turns inside.

On that inside turn, the horse drops its inside shoulder. The horse just doesn't "pop" off into the trot in the same bold way. I could see why Johnny Johnston would want that turn to the outside. It makes for a much more dynamic picture..........and that is what the man is known for after all.

I'm sure if I'd had more time to spend with Johnny Johnston, I would have found out more specifically what other things he was looking for. But I guess I'm probably doing well that I figured out this much.

I did come back on the final day to help with horses since they were going to be doing young horses that would be turned loose. Rose Corey and her daughter, Kelsey, were there to help with my pictures. I figured I should be there to help with theirs.

So many times at those combined photo shoots, people just show up to do their own horses but don't bother to think that others might need help. They get their pictures done and leave. Then the person who's done all the work to set things up so that people can get pictures done at a more reasonable price is stuck exhausted and with no help when it's time to do their own pictures.

Johnny Johnston was surprised to see me back on the third day. I told him why I'd come and he thanked me. Then later, he gave me a credit for two complimentary 8 x 10s. That was really unexpected.........but definitely appreciated.

Johnny also gave Rose come complimentary work. When he found out she hadn't charged any of us to participate. She'd gone to a lot of work to set everything up and then she'd fed us all. Johnny didn't think it was fair that Rose carried the total cost of putting this photo shoot on.

He had already comped her the fees on the rescue stallion. (That story will come later.) With all of the pictures she had done, my guess is that he comped her at least two more sets of fees.

Here are a few more pictures...........these are of Hope. In the next post, I'll post some portrait type pictures of Rachel with Hope and Rachel with Dandy and tell you Johnny's take on them.

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  1. Oooo, I like them all, but the top one is my fave! She's very pretty and elegant looking.

  2. I've just read all your posts from the past five days (wow, lots of reading!), so here comes my comments as I read your posts!

    I must say it sounds like as you work more with Johnny the more respect he seems to have for you, or is that a miscommunication? (I just read this post...seems I was right, LOL!)

    You say that Johnny is driven by the quest for the "perfect picture", well it's obviously working for him, just look at how well he's doing for himself!

    The Olympics: There was a lady in the gymnastics the other day, I can't remember where she was from or where she placed, but she was a mother, won a medal when he competitors were only just being born, and I think her son was sick. She done really, really well though. And today, the weightlifter who got the gold medal, who lost his wife not so long ago...literally brought tears to my eyes!!

    It's amazing how when one thing happens with your animals, like an injury, more tend to follow. I find the exact same thing, it's like the unspoken Murphey's Law!

  3. Wow! He is a nice guy after all! LOL! Glad you were there to help him and he gave you some free stuff! (always a bonus!)

  4. So hard to really see them at this size and the watermark down the middle makes it that much harder.

    There is a saying that I have always loved, "patience is a virtue, posess it if you can, seldom in a woman, NEVER in a man"!! LOL, your rare patience very obviously paid off for you and I am glad that you managed to get such a good rapport going with JJ.

    Looking forward to seeing more pics especially the Rachel and Dandy and Rachel and Hope shots.

    I truly believe that when you receive an unexpected favor or a gift from someone in whatever form, that there will come a time that you are given the opportunity to pay it back, like my photography, it was a gift from my then Partner and now I am finding that I have been given the opportunity to pay it back to 2 people close to me in their quest to become photographers because they had seen what I do, but there aren't many people out there who think like that, so it must have been refreshing for him and your friend to see your appreciation and understanding of the position after you had finished with your photos, by you coming back to help them with theirs.

    Kudos MiKael take care, still miss our chats.

  5. I will admit that I know NOTHING about photographing arabians but these pictures of Hope are amazing to my untrained eye! That was really nice of you to come back to help out the next day...I agree that so many times the people who work so hard to get things for the rest of us (be it shows, clinics, or photo shoots) don't get to enjoy the event themselves!

  6. Hope seems very photogenic - she looks gorgeous in the photos (and most likely even more so in person).

    Love the latest pictures. Sounds like you both learned something in the photoshoot - it was fun reading about it.

  7. Hope is one GORGEOUS horse. I have to say an Arabian horse with that coloring has been my desire for some time now.