Which is your favorite equine photograph? What is it that makes you feel that way about the photograph(s)??
Today I’m digging back into the archives and sharing a very special image that holds a dear place in my heart. I can’t narrow it down to having just one favorite photograph but this image would definitely be in my top 5 all time favorite equine photographs.
So what makes me feel so strongly towards this image? Simply put, this photograph makes me feel loved. A picture of a special man who was the first to share with me the love of horses and at every opportunity encouraged me and loved me along the way. A picture that triggers memories of times spent with this man. Who is this special man you ask? I’m blessed to say – he is My Grandpa.
The picture was taken in the fall of 2008. Newly into the Photography program at NAIT in Edmonton, we were exclusively using film cameras at this time and doing all our own developing and printing in the darkrooms. This was a huge learning curve for me as I had not done much film photography before this and certainly had never used a 4×5 view camera much less developed my own film or prints. But I loved how real and involved the process was, how slow and contemplative it encouraged you to be, and at the end of the day how much more I valued the images because of how much work and thought was put into them.
One of our classes for the semester was ‘Critique-Class’, where we were all given the same weekly topic/concept that we had to photograph, and then the following week we would meet back to see what everyone had photographed and get feedback and critque on each image. The topic for this week was ‘Senior.’ And so as soon as my last class on friday was finished I packed up and left the city (same as I did the majority of the weekends while I lived in Edmonton) Headed back home to the fresh air and space on the farm. I phoned up my Grandpa, who lived just down the road from my parents farm, and he happily agreed to let me take a few images of him. At this point, Grandpa wasn’t able to ride horses anymore, but he really enjoyed still having a few horses on his yard and especially loved the foals.
Now remember that I was using the 4×5 view camera for this photograph. The camera itself is decently heavy, but add on the heavy tripod it had to be mounted on and it wasn’t easy to move this camera around to keep up with this energetic foal. Once I had it set up how I wanted it, I took my two shots and that was it… wait till the film was developed!
Back in Edmonton at school, it was always a mix of excitement and nerves; anticipation as you developed all the film you took over the weekend. Working in the pitch black room, What will these images look like? did they turn out? is the exposure correct? did the subject move out of focus? … I was happy to find out that one of my negatives did indeed turn out! Next, into the print tunnel where I started the printing process. Cropping the image, timing the exposure, deciding where to dodge and burn. Many tries later, I had the finished product; a timeless black and white portrait. I was pleased to receive one of the top marks of the class for that week, and when asked ‘Where did you find such a great old man?!’ I was proud to say that’s my Grandpa! :)
This image has grown to have two fold importance to me. First it has the strong personal connection of reminding me of someone and something I love. But secondly, as a photographer it is such a beautiful piece of art to me. One of a kind, 4×5 B&W film, hand developed and printed by me till it was just right. It reminds me of the value of my job as photographer.
I once read ‘Never underestimate the Power of a Portrait’ and I believe that is so true. I am encouraged to keep using my photography skills to serve others; I can never know how the pictures I capture will affect the lives of others. Looking back, this was my very first equine portrait session, and I’d never have guessed then that I’d be where I am now today – a professional photographer specializing in capturing people with their horses.
And so, I am forever grateful that I was able to capture this special image of a man I deeply loved. A picture now framed and hanging over my piano in my home. I treasure it as a valued piece of art, an heirloom portrait.
Thanks for reading through my extra long blog for this image. <3 I’d love to hear from you! What is one of your favorite photographs? What makes you feel that way about the photograph?
Please share in the comments below or send me an email at email@example.com
Gord Heatley - Hey Miriam! I remember this image from critique class. It’s a great shot. I’m glad that shared it once again!
Frances Vander Wekken - What a lovely picture. I’m sure you will cherish it.