Urban Horses - The Portraits
To end the year of 2019 in the best possible of ways, on the 29th of December I went to Campo Grande in Lisbon, Portugal. An amazing place near the city center where we can find more than 200 horses of different sizes, colors and breeds amongst which we can find the Portuguese breed Lusitano.
There I met up with my freind and model Filipa Gentil Martins who is in charge of the stables of Patio Gentil Martins and we headed towards the stables to meet some of these outstanding creatures.
Over the last couple of years I have had the chance to photograph horses and I was really looking forward, developing this equine photography project of mine.
Equine photography is a complex process that takes time, we have to keep in mind that horses are large creatures that usually are spooked easily , so we need to let them know us a little at a time. let them smell our odor so they get used to our presence.I usually start by popping a couple of strobes , with the horse Whisperer close to them and reassuring them everything is Ok , The last thing we want to do is to make them uncomfortable nor stressed.
The idea was to shoot a few portraits of each horse on a black background using the least possible gear. When traveling to shoot on location it’s wise to think in advance which kind of gear we will need. Therefore knowing exactly what kind of image we want to obtain is essential. So I simply packed my B10 plus flash set, a Halo and a Rapid Octa Box diffuser, two tripods, a black backdrop cloth, my GFX 50s with a 120mm lens and a monopod. Easy, lightweight, as simple as possible.
We placed the backdrop hanging from the balcony, we mounted the two tripods with the Profoto’s B10 plus, we placed them one on each side between the the place of the camera and the subject, both pointing towards the center at a 45º above the level of the horses head. This way I could obtain this balanced light effect on both sides of the horses.
While we mounted the gear Filipa and Diogo took care of the horses. They were fed, then they washed and cleaned their mouth, they groomed them. The horses seemed enjoying it and they were really calm.
Filipa then started working on their mane and their tail, she braided some of them, she used a variety of adequate products to shape their mane, it was incredible to watch. A long process executed to perfection.
When photographing animals we have to be extra careful not to scare them, we started with Viñon, one of the bigger horses, he quickly got used to the flash from the B10 plus, while I shot my assistants carefully directioned the lights towards the horses, sometimes they were moving but we always had a bucket of carrots to keep call their attention. My team an I always were very careful to move slowly, carefully to avoid scaring them.
Credits and Special Thanks
I’d like to thank Filipa Gentill/Martins for welcoming me to the stables, to Diogo Melo for helping us photograph the models, to my assistants: Maria Rita – behind the scenes video and Danny Leal – behind the scenes photography, to Petko Angelov for the post production.
Fujifilm GFX 50s
Profoto B10 plus
Westcott RapidBox Octa XXL
Three Legged Thing Monopod