The third in a series of articles featuring the world-famous sports  photographer

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NEIL EGERTON

Equine Photography

It is not as easy as it looks!! 

Today, Neil is best known for his photography of polo, as has been seen in previous articles.  However, before he really started specialising in the ‘Sport of Kings’ he spent a good deal of his time following other equine sports (and other sports generally – as we have mentioned before, Neil likes to say that there is no sport that he hasn’t photographed at some point, and it is probably true!).

Today, Neil is best known for his photography of polo, as has been seen in previous articles.  However, before he really started specialising in the ‘Sport of Kings’ he spent a good deal of his time following other equine sports (and other sports generally – as we have mentioned before, Neil likes to say that there is no sport that he hasn’t photographed at some point, and it is probably true!).

Needless to say, Neil being British has meant that he has been spotted on many of the UK’s most famous racecourses at some point in his career, including Aintree for the world-famous Grand National.   He has also attended and photographed two of the biggest three-day events in the calendar, the Badminton Horse Trials and the Burleigh Horse Trials in the UK, as well as being a regular at the various show-jumping meetings at Hickstead.

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We asked Neil a few questions in the hope that some of our readers can pick up some tips for photographing these fast and exciting sports:

Q&A

 

Your speciality, as we know, is polo. Why not show-jumping, racing or three-day eventing, since you have spent a lot of time photographing these sports?

Q. 

A. 

Put simply; because I love polo the sport and polo ponies are the most amazing creatures – they are like gentle warriors.  They clearly love what they do, and give everything they can to win a game.

Q. 

With most equestrian sports, there are some obvious shots that the professionals will have to take – Beecher’s Brook at Aintree, the Derby Bank at Hickstead, the water at Badminton. Knowing this, what are the tips that you could offer for ensuring that yours is the shot that people will remember (ie better than anyone else’s)?

A. 

I would say to aim to go for great angles, use the shades of light to make the shot as dramatic as possible, put a remote camera under a fence to silhouette the horse.  In my own case, I am constantly watching what is going on in order to get a shot that no other photographer has seen – sometimes the most simple shot is the most important image of the day, a rider with their head in their hands, a groom jumping for joy, hoofs going through the sand, these are the images that will be used in a glossy magazine.

Q. 

There is a lot to think about when photographing horses at speed.   What do you focus on when a horse is galloping towards you or about to take a jump, in order to take just the right moment?

When I shoot show jumping I will focus on the jump and give the camera a greater depth of field setting. I then start shooting as the horse comes into the jump to get a sequence of images that I can choose the best from.

A. 

Q. 

If you were training someone to photograph horses jumping or racing, what three tips would you give them?

A. 

Be patient.  Don’t panic - the action will happen.  

  • Learn how to use natural light, it can make a good image great

  • Know your sport – the more you know about it, the better you will be 

We know that you love to visit equestrian competitions even without your camera.  Do you ever just go and watch, or do you only see everything through a lens?  What sort of lens would you suggest an amateur might use to photograph equestrian sport? Any tips for cameras?

Q. 

A. 

I always see an event as if I am looking through a camera, but I do enjoy watching show jumping as a spectator. I don’t like going to polo just to watch - I find it very frustrating as I want to be there among the ponies and players with the action going on all around me.

 

For an amateur photographer I would recommend a good zoom lens - maybe a 70-300 mm -  You will get some very good images with that lens.   I am a Canon cameraman and I always have been, but most cameras now produce great images.  It is, anyway, the lens that’s the most important.  The better quality the lens, the better the image.  It’s as simple as that!

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The Show Hub wishes to thank Neil Egerton for his time over the past few months and the wonderful articles he has produced with us. Also to his agent Jo Weaver. For any bookings or more information on Neil please email Jo directly on - jo@jwa.cz

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