I grew up with horses around me. My grandmother travelled the country to compete, my uncle trained racehorses and my mother was a keen team chaser. My own competitive nature, however, came from my grandfather and another uncle (a world class sailor), and I took to the sea instead of the turf, and went on to compete at national championships in several different classes.
I took up photography at the age of 15. I had the tremendous privilege of attending a school in the heart of Northern England’s countryside, and when I wasn’t busy photographing a variety of sports, I could usually be found knee-deep in a river, a camera in one hand and a fishing rod in the other.
Later, at the University of Durham I had the use of my College’s darkroom and was afforded many opportunities to shoot a variety of subjects for the university and local newspapers. I also acted as official photographer to a number of the University’s clubs, societies, and sports teams, allowing me the creative freedom to hone my craft, and experience of working to tight editorial briefs.
In the gap between my university courses, I gravitated back towards the world of sailing, crewing off-shore yachts and photographing the world as I saw it.
I then worked for a cutting-edge web agency, at the forefront of web analytics and e-Commerce. Later, this experience would lead me to start a small web development and hosting agency – still an arm of my business today.
I gravitated back into the equestrian world almost entirely by chance: an introduction from a friend saw me step in to photograph some local equestrian events, and when the results were published, I found myself fielding more and more requests from rural clients. It was then that I decided to commit to photography as a career, rather than a sideline.
When one of the major equestrian photography companies rang me up and asked me if I would work for them, I found myself with a calendar of event work, spanning the season from March through to October each year. This was a crucial juncture in my career in the horse world: by shooting for the riders, rather than for editors, I learned exactly what people want to see in their photos. Perhaps more importantly, I learned what they would never buy – and I realised just how often many photographers were offering up those throwaway shots.
You’d be forgiven for thinking I spend my professional life in a field or an arena, but actually, my photography business is very varied. Alongside working as an equestrian photographer, I cover social and corporate events, weddings, and, increasingly, commercial work for a range of clients.
Commercial clients range from big multinational companies, who hire me for weeks at a time, to sole traders who might need an hour of my time to photograph a single product. For the last five years I have covered Burghley Horse Trials for the title sponsor Land Rover. In 2019 Land Rover extended that contract to cover all of their sponsored equestrian events.
Between December and June I fulfil a voluntary role as Public Relations Officer for Midlands Pointing, the organisation that manages and controls amateur horse racing in the Midlands. This requires me to combine photography with journalism, as well as producing content for the web and social media.
To date, my work has appeared on the covers of over 40 national and international magazine titles, most of the national newspapers, and a couple of books too. Every month, I’m published somewhere – but it never gets any less exciting to see how, and where, my work has been used this time.