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We had never shot equestrian portraiture before, so the challenge was on when we worked with Leanne and her 12-year old horse Couvin. All went very well, also thanks to the assistance of our art director Strawberry Love, who is an experienced rider. The combination of strength and fear is an unusual trait for such a big animal. It is truly fascinating how over centuries man and horse have built up this bond based on respect and trust.
Despite the (predictably!) unpredictable British summer weather we decided to shoot outdoors, seeking suitable locations near the stables where Couvin lives: a farm courtyard, a stable block and an open field with a panoramic view.
During the first reconnaissance Marco took some pictures, which helped the client to visualise the sort of background we were going to use: dramatic skies, strong contrast and emphasis of the subject in an hyper-realistic pictorial-like look.
We were conscious that big flashing lights could scare horses (this became even more evident when Couvin arrived on the first set and went from a 16.2hh to a 17.2hh), therefore we started with a gentle approach, using the lights from distance and at low power level. Despite our initial worries, Couvin immediately showed great attitude. He was more curious about our equipment than afraid of it.
Thanks to his friendly nature and the riding skill of Leanne, he behaved perfectly, looking straight to the camera when requested and striking his poses with equine elegance.
photography :: Marco Joe Fazio
art direction :: Strawberry Love
models :: Leanne & Couvin