They say a picture is worth a thousand words and as someone who has always enjoyed photography I would tend to agree but what is it that makes a specific photo special to us?
I was chatting to a photographer friend who asked me this last weekend. He was photographing the dressage show running at the yard and wanted to know which photos (walk, trot, canter) or which angle (side, front, behind) or which crop (portrait, landscape, close up) would best meet what people hoped to see. His reason for asking was because the orders he received had such a variation of all aspects.
My answer was that I could only speak for myself but that I believed the meaning of a photo is different for us all. It had been a long time since I had bought a professional photo taken at a show but I had just placed an order for one from him. The photo in question was the one below that I chose from the many he took of me at the weekend of Cavan Championships. This photo was important to me for two reasons.
The first was that it was a relief and achievement to be at the championships at elementary having qualified last year at preliminary and having to withdraw due to injury.
The second is a little more obscure! About few years ago I was going through a rough time and my brother and parents surprised me with an amazing gift – a Flexi Equine custom tack locker that had my name on it and loads of little details they had requested for me. It also had a graphic – one of a dressage rider because as my non horsey brother explained “I know you like to do that”. It was a brilliant reminder that when everything else in life goes wrong from money to work to relationships it is always horses that get me through and it was an even bigger reminder to keep at it.
I love my tack locker but the image haunted me a bit because at the time I was struggling with dressage and had few hopes of ever riding correctly in a straight line let alone riding lateral. I took lessons and in time I improved and the mare, Dolly and I became proficient at Novice, managed to win a riding club championship and competed at elementary. We were awful at leg yield though!
I bought my own horse, an uneducated inexperienced little eight year old cob last year and we learned together and I got him up the first few levels even faster this time round. I struggled still with lateral though and leg yields were the bane of my life as was learning to use my weight aid effectively. I honestly dreamt about bloody leg yield at one stage! After months of lean, tilt your head, more leg, less hand and getting it wrong in every way imaginable we finally managed to produce a leg yield that wouldn’t offend a judge. (thank god for patient trainers!).
At Cavan we even managed to produce a few consistently that were not below par for the level. In this photo there are many things that I am doing wrong but I am looking at what I am doing right. My horse looks happy, I am using my weight and leg aid and he is crossing his legs and happily leg yielding across the arena at a National Championship. This small step for many is a big one for me! So this photo was bought because finally, finally I look a bit like the graphic on the tack locker – who knows some day I might even get as far as doing what that rider is doing and wearing a top hat and tails. This photo will be framed and sit on top of my desk when I work at my day job as a reminder of what I am working hard for and that even on the stressful days I can look up and remember to dream.
As an aside, I also bought this photo below but for an entirely different reason. I am an amateur. My horse isn’t my job or my source of income. He is my friend, my comfort, my leisure time and most of all my partner and team mate. This photo sums up my pride in his performance and what we achieved this year and his expression just sums him up in general – alert and proud yet kind.
So, whats in a photo? What is the last one you bought and why?
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