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Posted on Jan 29, 2019 in Articles

A Day In The Life Of An Equestrian Photographer

A Day In The Life Of An Equestrian Photographer

by Lucy Hall – Photography & Rider PR (Image above is courtesy of Jacqueline Ellen Thedens)

(all rights reserved on all images by Lucy Hall and are subject to copyright)

I was asked by Stable Equestrian to write an article about a day in the life of a photographer at a big event.  This got me thinking?  Where was I going to start, which event and which day would I write about, what would give you the most in-site into my working day?  It had to be Badminton of course…where else?  It’s where every Eventing photographer aspires to be.  I said to my mum at my very first Badminton aged 7, that one day I would sit at the side of the Lake in an orange tabard and take photographs with the professionals.  She laughed and told me to concentrate as she didn’t want to pay for a roll of film to be developed that didn’t have a horse in it over the jump!  I nailed every image!  In 2009 I was at a loose end after working over seas for 6 years and wanted to get back on the Eventing circuit  and as they say the rest is history!!  I went pro in 2011 and haven’t looked back.  I sometimes question what I am doing when I am stood in the middle of a field in the mud in the wind and rain freezing cold, but it’s addictive; right?!!

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For a big event the preparations start way in advance. Accreditation for Badminton has already opened and it is only January and I am already looking to the 1st of May and the start of the event.  What shall I wear for the trot up?  What will the weather be like, accommodation, logistics, kit, do I need anything, do I need to replace anything?  The rider entries list is released and then it starts to become real…the event will happen with or without me there.  Fingers crossed my accreditation is accepted!

As Eventing is all about the Cross Country and that’s what riders live for it only seemed right to concentrate on Cross Country day.  My day start’s with an early alarm 6am, I hate sitting in traffic and like to be organised and catch up with my colleagues.  I aim to be in the Media Centre soon after 7am breakfast and kit in hand.  I unpack kit sort out my back pack for the day and prepare mentally for the Cross Country to start.  Look at the rider list and plan which fences I want to be at for what riders.  We have a photographers briefing around 10am where the photography steward advices us about the do’s and don’ts while the competition is taking place.  This normally takes 5 minutes and then the rush is on….deposits in hand we collect our photographers bibs, lunch, as much water as is possible to carry and sign the disclaimer’s.

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From this moment on the adrenaline starts to kick in…we move out to our first fence about 45 minutes before the first horse in on course.  I would have already been round the course and decided on my fences and where I am going to start.  The light and the positioning on the fence decide very much on the angle I am going to take and we do have restrictions to take into account too.  Fence judges and officials, where they will be stood, alternative routes and where the horse and rider will go if they have a run out.  All this needs planning preparation and taking into account.  I have my plan on my rider list.  My list is divided up into which fences I would like photographs over and which riders are important to me.  There isn’t much time between the riders to get to the next fence 4 minutes to be exact.  I need to plan my next fence dash carefully in case I miss someone or can get away with a galloping shot.

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I carry two Cannon 7D camera bodies one with a 70-200mm lens and the other with a 28-105mm lens and a backpack.  In the back pack I have water, polo’s, spare batteries, spare compact flash cards, cleaning clothes, lens wipes and rain covers and wear my trainers!  It is surprising how quickly Cross Country day goes, 4/5 hours out on course and it flies by especially if there are no holds on course.

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Once the last horse has finished and I have battled the crowds to get back to the Media Centre that’s when the hard work starts.  I import all my compact flash cards to Light Room and my external hard drive and edit the images that need to go out ASAP.  I have the riders list and the fence number that I shot them over, this makes fining them amongst 100’s of images quicker, that and the fact I know their cross county colours now and can pick some out very easily after all these years.  Once my clients have the images they need I can then pack up and head home normally about 7-7:30pm.  Shower, eat and edit in that order…yes I then start editing again.  This is normally for a FaceBook album for my accreditation which backs up the earlier social media posts.  More images for my sponsored rider’s for their social media and then a few images for my social media if I am not to tired by this point and can still see the screen.  I am normally asleep before my head hit’s the pillow and hopefully on the same side of midnight I started the day!!

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It’s exciting, I live on adrenaline for the week, it’s demanding physically and mentally, it’s a lot of hard work but at the end of the day I love it and enjoy every second.  This year I will have (depending on horses, fingers crossed) 2 sponsored rider competing.  This is amazing but takes it toll emotionally especially as they have become good friends and you want them to do well and come home safely.

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