Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Year end thoughts: photography ramblings

As another year comes to an end I have been thinking about the state of photography in this technologically advanced world we live in. We have seen a real shift in the photographic world, and not all of it for the better. Recently we heard about CNN firing its freelancers because amateurs will work for free, and this is what a lot of us are up against.
Stock guru Jim Pickerell states that:

"The core business of providing pictures for commercial and consumer use has moved from hiring a professional photographer to shoot an assignment, to RM(rights managed) stock, to RF(royalty free) and then to microstock. The next paradigm shift will be iPhoneography"
While we see uprisings, revolutions and occupations being documented via Iphone photos and video this will become the standard for how we get our news. In addition Pickerell writes about the the trend of image buyers now getting images from royalty free and microstock at a fraction of what they once paid, and the laws of supply in demand dictating a buyers market.
It paints a bleak picture for those of us trying to make a living at this, and in the horse industry we have seen some lively debates regarding the changing times of horse show photography with many photographers who once made a good living providing services as official show photographers no longer able to make it pay being up against poachers, "faux pros" and rampant image theft. Many of the publications and other image buyers who used to license images with us are now also turning to the cheaper option of royalty free and microstock.

While these issues will not be going away anytime soon I do believe that there will still be work for the high quality images, and those providing show services as well as stock images need to rethink their business plans.

Recently I went to an Ansel Adams exhibit and was struck by the preparation and planning and previsualization of each photo. In addition the technical details of each image, how he would carefully record the ISO, aperture, shutter speed and composition.

These days we see people buying expensive pro gear, setting it in auto mode and running their motor drive and calling themselves a professional photographer, but are really what would be considered a "faux pro". They have no concept of how their camera works, and in addition to that they are not legally running a business. They sell their images but they are not collecting or paying sales tax, have no business license and have no kind of liability insurance.

So you still want to make this a business? Then get your ducks in a row.

1. Learn what it takes to run a business.
2. Understand your camera and the basic concepts of photography. Take your camera out of auto mode and don't run your motor drive. Understand ISO, aperture, shutter speeds and how they relate to eachother.
3. Learn to edit. Be prepared to dump many images and only show your best work. Be your own toughest critic. Develop a thick skin. Always be open to critique, even though sometimes it may be hard to hear. Never stop learning.
4. Know your subject. Study work in periodicals and web sites. For horses learn breed standards and understand the trends and horse behavior.
5. Never say "it can be fixed in photoshop". Get it right in the camera. Over processed images will not save an image that was bad in the first place.
6. Treat your professional peers with courtesy and respect. Do not undercut them and do not infringe on their territory. The horse world is small, and word of mouth spreads quickly, networking with fellow photographers will get you further faster than trying to poach work from them. Building a network of like minded pros will serve as a support group and bring you work and more contacts.
7. Treat your good clients like gold. Reward loyalty. Fire clients that shop based on price or that expect free images or are never satisfied.
8. Offer quality products and great service. Offer items that they would not be able to produce themselves. Give them what they want at a price they feel is fair, and don't nickle and dime them to death. Be responsive, reliable and professional.
9. In this bad economy find a project that can be a way to give back. Work with a local group by donating your services to a cause you believe in. Sarah Andrews' Camelot Horse Calendar Project is a great example of how rewarding this kind of work can be.
10. Don't get discouraged. Work on developing your own style that is fresh, creative and YOU! Shoot for the plain joy of it!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays!

"May flowers always line your path and sunshine light your day. May songbirds serenade you every step along the way. May a rainbow run beside you in a sky that's always blue, and may happiness fill your heart each day your whole life through" ~ Irish Blessing

Happy Holidays and all the best for 2012 from all of us at ImagEquine and Thornapple Farm!

Friday, December 16, 2011


Last weekend I spent some time in one of my very favorite places, Chincoteague Island in Virginia. It was an extra treat to share this special place with two photographer friends who could appreciate the peace and beauty of this special place. We saw some ponies, picked shells on the beach and enjoyed some brilliant sunsets over a pond full of thousands of snow geese as well as egrets, herons, ducks and ibis. The sunrise saw the geese take flight by the thousands and gather into their formations to head south, an awe inspiring sight. Nature is a great way to refresh yourself and help put this crazy world into perspective. Here is a gallery to the photos. As you can see this handsome young Palomino stallion spent quite a while grazing in view of our cameras and his color in the brown winter colors made for some great photo ops for us.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Putting Life into Perspective

Over my 53 years of life I have been fortunate with my health and never took my mobility for granted. Then on September 9 on a simple walk with my camera I slipped in a patch of mud and broke my ankle. Yes, life can change in an instant. This fall happened so quickly that I was not even able to save my camera, which was mashed right into the mud. Most photographers can relate to always holding their cameras up to save them when they fall. The first thing I told my husband when I made it to the house was to check my camera..take it from me, your camera can take a fall much better than you can!

In the midst of my busiest time of year I found myself sidelined in a cast and crutches with orders to allow my ankle to heal to avoid more problems. Even when things are bad, there is always a bright side: I received an email from a rider that had broken both ankles when doing an emergency dismount from a horse, and two other horse photographers broke their ankles at the same time, one of whom ended up in the hospital for 5 days and needed plates and screws, all a result of tripping over a cat. Another friend said to me, "Do you understand now how truly fragile you are?" Fragile? Me? Yes, I guess we all are when breaking one small bone can result in such a sudden lifestyle change.

My professional life has always been doing so many things at once, keeping so many balls in the air. Suddenly many of these balls were no longer an option, it was just not physically possible for me to juggle them. Gone was the option of walking, feeding my horses, driving, photographing several events or getting together with friends for a fun and much looked forward to weekend of photography. Each trip on the crutches, especially in the beginning had to be carefully planned. The crutches were the worst part of the whole ordeal, but I can say I got pretty good at getting around on them after a while. Then there were the daily trips for blood draws where I got wheeled around in a wheel chair. Seeing the world from the handicapped point of view was a real eye opener for me and I know I will always be more compassionate with people that have lost their mobility and meet these challenges on a daily basis.

As I allowed myself to heal my dogs were with me every moment. Many days I had two dogs and a few cats as close to me as they could be. My main dog Ollie refused to even go out to the barn (his very favorite activity in the world) for the first few weeks. Animal therapy is a real and very good thing. On one beautiful fall day I made the trek out to the barn and stood by the gate. The six horses all gathered around me and touched me so gently with their noses and muzzles. There was no pushiness, they just stood with me and I could feel their healing energy, it was a moment that I find hard to describe in words but from my many many years of being with horses it was a new bond and feeling I had never experienced until the moment I most needed it. Horses truly are healers.

Allowing myself to slow down I found myself more open to my friends, of whom I found many new ones in the virtual world and strengthened bonds with many old ones. Almost every day there was a phone call, or a note, or a gift, and this was a huge help to get me through each day. It seemed like just when I would start feeling the most sorry for myself a friendly voice or face would appear to snap me out of it! We truly have no idea in our fast paced world how much these little gestures of friendship and support mean, and I am truly grateful for all that were shown to me. On top of everything my husband and daughter took over all the day to day chores, and for that I am very grateful. There is nothing better than to know your family will pick up the slack!

I read many good books, and saw some movies I had wanted to see for a while (top picks: Out of the West, Buck, Driving Miss Daisy, The Real Dirt on Farmer John) and my thought processes have slowed to not being so scattered. I am working on getting my life's priorities more in order. There are some things that are truly important, and some things that maybe I really don't need to be doing.

The cast is off, the crutches are gone and walking is getting better each day. I am grateful for each little step. This week I was able to walk out to the barn with my camera and take some photos. Thank you again to everyone that sent your positive thoughts and energy, I know that it helped me in more ways than you can know. Along with the chocolate, photo, canine and equine therapy of course!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

2012 Colorado Cowboys and Horses Calendar

The 2012 Colorado Cowboys and Horses Calendar are available for ordering!

Enjoy 13 months of 74 all new and exciting photographs featuring the horses and cowboys of Sombrero Ranch and the 2011 Great American Horse Drive in Northwest Colorado. Go here to see some preview pages and order your copy! View all the photos in the calendar at this slide show.

All the photos from the 2011 Horse Drive and workshop may be seen here.

NOTE: If you missed the 2011 Calendar go here take advantage of our sale! We also have a collection of five calendars available from 2007-2011 there.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

September means Dressage!

Well September is here and that can mean only one thing: time for some serious dressage immersion! Over the next two weeks I will be shooting the Cayuga Dressage Show in Elmira, New York and then helping my friend Carole MacDonald shoot the NEDA Fall Festival in Saugerties, NY.

If you will be riding at these shows please send an email to and we will make sure someone catches your ride(s). There will also be photo request forms available at the show. Web galleries will be created on request by bridle number. There is no sign up fee and we try to cover everyone at the show, however galleries will be created by request only.

I have reopened the 2007-2010 NEDA Fall Festival Galleries for the month of September. If you missed ordering photos now is your chance! Send me an email at for the link and password information!

See you at the show and have a great ride!

Friday, August 5, 2011


One of the things I enjoy so much about my job is the fact that I get to experience so many different facets of the horse world. It is amazing to me the range of breeds and disciplines within the horse kingdom, from the smallest minis to the biggest, most powerful draft horses, from cowboys to dressage riders: I love seeing and photographing them all. The variety and occasional new discovery makes my job always interesting!

Just recently I got to meet my first Icelandic horses up close, and what a treat these sturdy little horses are to be around. The owners just love them and although I have not ridden for a while I may just have to climb on board and experience the ride for myself. This cutie is an Icelandic living at Blasted Rock Farm in Bristol, New York. See the images from my visit here, you will also see a very unique Icelandic mule! I also had the chance to meet some Icelandics that live close by, see those images here. Some day I will make it to Iceland to see it for myself but in the mean time this is a great virtual riding tour to see just how smooth these guys are!

I have created a photo needs list and am looking for horse owners to collaborate with me, drop me an email at and I will send you a list of what I am looking for.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Begin Again Horse Rescue

Last weekend I connected with an old client in Lima, New York that has been working at rescuing horses in need with Begin Again Horse Rescue. This photo is of a Thoroughbred gelding that was in a "killer" lot at an area horse sale. This horse was born in California in 1998, had 85 starts and career earnings of $141,884. The sticker on his forehead means he had no Coggins test and was headed for slaughter. Unfortunately too many horses that are no longer considered useful wind up this way, and thanks to rescues like Begin Again he has been given a second chance. See more photos from this session and other horses available for adotpion here.

While I would much prefer to photograph happy, healthy horses I think it's important to use my camera as a tool to document all facets of the horse industry. Photos have great impact and I hope that images such as this will raise awareness. Please do what you can, whatever it may be, to help animals in need, as they have no power or voice of their own.

"Saving the life of one animal may not change the world, but the world will surely change for that one animal"

Friday, July 15, 2011

July ~ barns, hay and a new dog..

This has turned out to be a beautiful July and with the latest stretch of warm and sunny weather with low humidity we have been taking advantage of the great conditions to get our hay done. It is my job to rake the hay and I must admit I enjoy this work. It can be hot and dusty and noisy, but it gives me time to reflect on things as I go around in circles as well as enjoy the company of the swallows that chase me diving for bugs and the sweet smell of the hay I know the horses will be enjoying when we are buried under snow.

I am sharing a photo of the newest member of our animal family,a sweet pit bull girl that we are fostering for the Heart of the Catskills Shelter. Come meet her and see if she is the girl for you! Go to their site and check out that cute Beagle in the header, that's our boy Patch!

Our barn project has come along swiftly and on schedule over the last few months, it's been exciting to see all of the changes! We set up a camera to capture the progress day by day, it's quite something to see things take shape. Now the fences are going up, and once the interior is finished the animals will be moved into the barn. See the new barn grow here!

Horse Progress Days is always fascinating to me and this year was no exception. See the latest in horse powered equipment at my this photo gallery of images taken at this event as well as the surrounding Amish country of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Early in June I once again photographed the NC PAHA Arabian show in Hughesville, Pennsylvania. This photo is of the lovely Arabian stallion Czersk owned by Jean and Michael Popp and shown by Kriss Phelps of Crescendo Training Center in Ephrata, Pennsylvania. A gallery of images from the show may be seen here.
While in Pennsylvania I also saw many Amish working their fields putting up hay and straw. It is inspiring to me that in this technologically fast paced world there are still people holding on to their old ways and customs.
I spent a fun photo session with Kris Bowman and her world champion Percheron mare Lynda. It is a real treat for me to connect with people and horses I meet online!
Meanwhile back home we had a crew of Amish builders in to build a new barn for us and we are really excited by this new structure. The barn is up but now we need to get the interior and fencing done before we can move the animals back in. Speaking of which we have had lots of rain making for lush grazing, and dramatic skies. This is the best time of year to spend quality time with my horses. I will be traveling throughout New England, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia this summer, drop me an email at to set up a session!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Colorado Galleries

Not being much of a writer I find that I tend to procrastinate when it comes to updating my blog. I find it so much easier to write some quick entries while I am on the road while they are fresh and new in my mind, than when I am home and catching up on the everyday things. Time seems to go by so quickly and when one event is over the next photo ops are just around the corner!
I have finally gotten through all my Colorado photos and for those of you die hards that look at every single image (and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for doing so) here you go! The Workshop gallery and the Horse Drive gallery. Also make sure you check out the awesomely wonderful video made by Mark Kettenhofen from Nikon. I could watch this over and over and I hope you enjoy it too. Can't wait for next year!
Now it will be on to choosing the top images to compile the calendar, if you see an image that you think should be in the calendar feel free to drop me an email!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Spring Green and a New Book!

Things always get so busy this time of year and some days I don't know if I am coming or going, it seems like there is always so much to do. With all the rain we have been getting it is unbelievably green here, and I try to take a walk with my camera every day to capture some of its beauty. My new Andalusian girl Novelera is enjoying herd life and all the abundant grazing.

The book project I shot for in 2009 "40 Fundamentals of English Riding" has been published and is now available. It is exciting to hold it in my hands and see what a great job they did with the final layout and image choices. In addition it is so well written and comes with a 90 minute Companion DVD it is an excellent read for any rider!
Soon I will be on the road to my first horse show of the year, starting with the PAHA Arabian show in Hughesville, Pennsylvania next weekend. I will be on the road as always this summer so drop me an email at to arrange a visit for when I am in your area! I plan to be in Pennsylvania, Virgina, West Virginia, Maryland and the rest of the northeast and New England.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Sombrero Ranch Photo Workshop 2011

For the past two weeks I have put on my cowgirl hat and had the time of my life chasing horses, cowboys and cowgirls in the high desert of northwest Colorado. This was my 6th year here and each year seems to be more fun than the last. Although it is a challenge to create new and exciting images photographing at the same event and location there is always so much happening that I still can feel overwhelmed at all the photo ops presented to me.
This year I worked once again with Scott Trees and Nikon rep Mark Kettenhoffen to set up the shoots along with a great crew of cowboys and cowgirls, headed up by the extraordinary cowboy Ed Pinkard. What makes this event so special is the skill with which Ed directs his crew and horses and also his innate understanding of light and the needs of photographers, and he never says something can't be done or complain about having to do something again (and again!).. Ed and the Sombrero horses have worked on movies such as Lonesome Dove, Dances with Wolves, the upcoming Cowboys and Aliens and Marlboro commercials so we are truly lucky to be able to work with someone of his skill and caliber...and in addition to that he is a true cowboy: good looking, funny, gracious and good to his horses.

We started out our workshop with a day of video shooting. Many DSLR's now have the capability to provide HD files, and as still photographers this is a skill we should pursue. I spent some time shooting the D7000 with the 28-300 lens and was really thrilled with the quality of the video. This day brought us snow squalls and cold wind but we perservered and were blessed with some great images!
For our main two days of shooting we had a large group of photographers hailing from as far away as the UK and Germany and many new friends were made. The weather settled down and we photographed from sunup to sundown. Some of the more spectacular shoots included a herd of about 100 horses moving through water the first morning, and the cool morning air, steam and back light combining for some memorable photo ops. We also had an epic shoot the next morning of another large herd moving like thunder by us in a formation that could not have been coreographed or planned any better. I always know when a shoot goes well when all the chatting dies down and there is nothing but silence and the clicking of shutters punctuated by the occasional "wow!!!"
In between we shot portarits, details, the stagecoach pulled by a team of six up, roping, silhoettes, longhorn cattle and more. On our last night together we invited everyone down to view the photos, always well attended and a chance to share the fun we had with our photos. I already can't wait to do it all again next year!
To view some of my favorite photos from the workshop (so far) go to this link I will add more once I get home, as well as a report from this year's Great American Horse Drive

Friday, April 22, 2011

Photo Session at West Point

This past week I had the unique opportunity to photograph five cadets at the West Point Military Academy.
These young ladies are all members of the West Point Equestrian Team and they wanted photos of themselves with their favorite horse, a handsome Dutch Warmblood gelding named Slinky.

Slinky had never been to this location before and he posed like a statue for us! When we were done with him we had some fun shooting at various locations. Although the weather wasn't optimal it was still a great experience to be able to photograph at this location and the five ladies really got into the spirit of it with their own ideas and suggestions.

Enjoy the photos from the shoot here.

Friday, April 8, 2011

New Orleans to Kentucky

On my last day in Florida I stopped at the Museum of Natural Science in Gainesville and spent some very enjoyable time in the Butterfly Rainforest there. I then spent a day in New Orleans visiting my oldest daughter Shelby. We had a perfect evening to stroll around the French Quarter and enjoy the sights, followed by a delicious dinner. I don't know when I will visit this wonderful city again as Shelby plans to move to Boone, NC for three years to achieve her Master's Degree, and I will miss it!

The following day I travelled to Tennessee to experience Mule Days in Columbia. Mules of all shapes and sizes were there and I stayed for part of the day to photograph the parade and wagon train. On the final leg of my trip I stopped in Kentucky for a really special photo session with the great horse Rhett and his partner Jim Koford. It was a real honor for me to spend some time photographing this pair and capture their special bond. It is sessions like this that make my job really special, and I think there will be some really great achievements in their future, so keep an eye on this pair!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Horsey Florida Fun!

In search of sunshine and warmth I was not disappointed during my week in Florida. From world class driving events to the top dressage horses in the country and a roster of equine activities and attractions to choose from it is easy to understand why this part of the country is a mecca for horse lovers when the rest of the country is just trying to get through another winter!

In Ocala I visited with friends at Beauty's Equine Rescue, Cottage Farm and Shangri La Lusitanos. From there I travelled south to Wellington to help fellow photographer Sharon Packer shoot dressage. On my way I stopped and visited the farm where my new Andalusian mare Novelera came from and as luck would have it was able to capture some special images of a foal just seconds old. What a treat!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Outer Banks, Wild Ponies and more

I started my trip by spending the night in Chincoteague, Virgina. This place instills a sense of peace in me and I always make the point to get up early to see the sunrise over the marshes. As always I was not disappointed! I capturd this scene with my new wide angle 17-30mm lens.

The following day I drove to Corolla, North Carolina to catch up with Corolla native and fellow photographer Jared Lloyd to photograph the wild ponies there. Seeing this small band of horses trying to survive with diminishing habitat, human encroachment and declining fertility and mortality rates makes me wonder how much longer we will be able to enjoy these hardy little horses on the outer banks. In addition to the ponies we enjoyed the birdlife which included squadrons of pelicans, nesting ospreys and the usual assortment of sea fowl, egrets and even the occasional turtle.

A few days later I took the ferry, accompanied by dolphins, to Cumberland Island off the coast of Georgia and spent a day hiking around the island. I did see a few ponies grazing in the Dungeness Ruins but was more impressed by the spectacular trees on this island and the unspoiled and peaceful atmosphere. I hope to visit again soon!

Stay tuned as I continue my trip to Florida in search of some of the world's most beautiful horses to photograph along with some other subjects that catch my eye! I hope that you are seeing signs of spring in your part of the world.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Getting Sharp Images...Or Not!

One thing many horse photographers struggle with is getting their photos sharp.
Horses in action can be a real challenge to get sharp. Here are some common reasons your photos may not be sharp:
• Shutter Speed
For any kind of motion shooting set your camera to shutter priority and keep your shutter speed at 500 or faster.
• Camera Shake
When shooting horses with the long lenses it can be hard to keep the camera steady. I highly recommend using a monopod, this will increase your percentage of sharp photos.
• Aperture
Shooting at an aperture of 2.8 is great for some situations but your focus must be right on or you will have softness issues. The higher your depth of field the more will be in focus.
• Lens issues
Lenses will go soft or not focus properly when they have been banged around. Invest in the best lenses you can afford! Some consumer grade lenses are just not all that sharp.
• Focus Points
Make sure your camera is focusing on the right area. Read your manual and figure out how to use the focusing system for your camera. Many times photos will be "back focussed": your background will be in perfect focus, your subject is soft. This is usually due to the focus points not being where the subject is.

Now you know how to get a sharp photo (hopefully) it is also fun to play with slow shutter speeds and pan some action, or create motion blur...

This year I will be trying to post tips and tricks to my blog on a regular basis. I will also be offering private online/telephone/in person mentoring and portfolio review services to amateur and beginning pro photographers. If you are interested in this or have something you would like to see addressed feel free to drop me an email at

Friday, March 4, 2011

Winter Portraits

A few weeks ago I travelled to New Hampshire to meet up with some photographer friends for some fun in the snow, a sure cure for cabin fever!
It is always energizing to spend time with people who share my passion for horses and photography and our hostess provided us with some wonderful models. Go here to see the photos. Enjoy!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Green Mountain Curlies

Last week I made the drive to Vermont on a lovely springlike day only to be greeted the next day by fresh snow and howling winds. I stopped by to see the Curly Horses at Green Mountain Farm in Marshfield and am sharing this photo of the handsome stallion Beau. See the gallery here, and look at the curls in the little ones' ears!

In March I will be travelling down the East Coast from New York to Florida then up to Tennessee. Drop me an email at, I am always seeking stock photo ops in the equine world. Have a great weekend!

Friday, February 18, 2011

More snow!

Yes, we have had lots of snow here this past winter. This photo is one of my Arab mares, Quinsz, in the snow with her buddies. With the recent warm up and the advent of longer days one can't help but feel hopeful that spring is just around the corner! Some more of my most recent winter images can be seen here.

I will be travelling down the East Coast from New York to Florida then up to Tennessee in the second half of March and will be looking for photo ops!
Drop me an emailat to plan a visit!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Winter Shoots

Last weekend I attended the annual Ice Harvest at Hanford Mills in East Meredith, NY. This photo was taken in 2004 when they still used a mule to score the ice. Unfortunately they no longer use the mule but it is still a fascinating event to witness. The blocks that are sawn from the ice are 17" think and weigh approximately 65# each. They are stored in an ice house and will last until December.
You can see more photos here.
I also attended a sleigh rally at the Winter Fest in Bainbridge, NY two weeks ago. Some very nice sleighs attended. You can see photos from that event here.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Donkeys and Spring Travels

Well January is almost over and theoretically spring will be here soon.

I am tired of looking at the snow and gray sky that we seem to get so much of this time of year so I thought I would share a photo of a mini donkey jenny and her baby taken at Asspirin Acres in Vermont, one of my favorite places to shoot!

You can see more images from this shoot here and some of my favorite mule and donkey photos here.

My spring travel schedule has been posted, please get in touch by emailing me at to arrange a shoot for while I am in your area!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Joe and Valentine

There are not many photo ops this time of year when it comes to horses so when one of my local horse friends let me know that they would driving their horse to a sleigh last weekend you can be sure I went with my camera to get some shots!

This photo is of Joe Hafele driving his good young Morgan gelding Valentine in front of the iconic barn at the edge of the Delaware County Fairgrounds.

Some more of my most recent winter images can be seen here.

Friday, January 21, 2011

What's in my bag?

Many times people will see a photo on the internet and I will get the question "What lens and camera do you use?"
While I am always tempted to say "It's not just the camera" I do admit that if you are serious about equine photography having the right gear and then knowing how to use it while save you tons of frustration and also help you make the kinds of images you envision. I am also a true believer that you don't have to have the fastest bestest lenses and the most expensive camera bodies to make great images. You can pick up used less expensive gear that is not as fast and may not have vibration reduction or image stabilization, so if you are on a budget these are things you will want to consider as you begin to accumulate gear. Get the best you can afford and don't cut corners with cheap lenses.

OK, so here is my list.
My camera bodies are the Nikon D3 and Nikon D700. I also have a Nikon D2x and D200, but this latest generation of bodies is superior to the older bodies with their high ISO and low light capabilities being just unbelieveable. I used to hate to shoot in low light, now I prefer low light over full sun. I no longer hesitate before jacking up my ISO as needed. This really has opened a whole new world for me photographically.

For lenses the Nikon 70-200 2.8 VR is my go to lens for most situations when shooting horses. This focal length range is ideal for equine shooters. If you are on a budget and shoot mostly outside in good light you can go to a slower lens without the VR at a significant savings. However once you shoot with the 2.8 lens you will be spoiled for life! I got to shoot with the Nikon 28-300mm lens last year and was impressed by the lightness and image quality. This is a great walking around lens, lightweight and versatile with great range and I now also have this lens and use it quite a bit, especially in more editorial type situations.
My other most favorite lens is the 300 2.8. The images from this lens and other fast prime lenses are superior to the zoom lenses, no question.
I also highly recommend a 1.4 teleconverter to use with your 70-200mm lens for when you need to zoom in more.
My lenses always have a UV filter. I don't use any other filters, I am bad at losing them and can never find them when I want them. The UV filter stays on to protect my lens.
For wide lenses I have the 24-70 and 17-24. I also have a 10.5 fisheye that is fun. In addition my prime lenses include a 50 1.4, 85 1.8, 105 2.8 and also a Lensbaby. The wide lenses and Lensbaby are something fun to play with to get you out of that zoom lens box!

Finally, when I am shooting horses with the long lenses I always shoot with a monopod (Manfrotto 679B) if I am going to be shooting for more than an hour or so. This will greatly reduce muscle fatigue and result in less images that are not sharp due to camera shake. It takes a while to get used to shooting with one, but it is worth it. It even makes a great walking stick if you have to hike itno a location and you can take a quick catnap with it if you are shooting long hours at a horse show ;)
I also have to give a huge plug to Think Tank Photo for their awesome Airport Roller case that I manage to stuff everything into when I have to fly. One day I will herniate myself heaving it into the overhead compartment but it never ceases to amaze me how much I can stuff into that thing!

This year I will be trying to post tips and tricks to my blog on a regular basis. I will also be offering private online/telephone/in person mentoring and portfolio review services to amateur and beginning pro photographers. If you are interested in this or have something you would like to see addressed feel free to drop me an email at !

A big thanks to Barb Young and Grace Kellogg for allowing me to use these photos of me.