Winter Masterclass 2022

Equine Photography Winter Masterclass 2022

After a long and frustrating 18 months of lock downs and covid19 restrictions, we were finally able to set a date and make our winter masterclass happen. It was an EPIC few days, one masterclass we won’t ever forget.

It began on Saturday July 23rd 2022 with a group of wonderful, keen, enthusiastic and talented photographers from across Australia, converging on the stunning Yarra Valley town of Narbethong, Vic. The amazing accommodation of Saladin Lodge was our home for four glorious days. Set amongst the tall timber of the area, it made the perfect backdrop for our masterclass. Our two amazing models, Sharryn and Michelle, with their beautiful horses, Pandora and Flash, were the centerpiece for our few magical days and with enough costumes to run our own theatre company, (all hand made by Sharryn), some incredible imagery was created. Introductions followed by dinner and a casual get-to-know-you evening was our official day 1.

After closely watching the weather, it was decided that the following day after breakfast, day two (Sunday 24th), we would head out into the forest to a nearby location, where Sharryn and Michelle got their steampunk warrior on and after a small but fun four wheel drive adventure, we got to play with light and smoke and learn about posing.  Our talented photographers moved around and found the best spots, while we positioned the horses to take advantage of the light and fabulous forest location. Using smoke is always fun, but ensuring the horses are comfortable with it is important, so the smoke was kept at a distance so Michelle’s horse Flash could remain feeling safe and relaxed. We played with both natural and a little introduced light, to challenge everyone and get them really thinking about what the light and shadows were doing.

By midday we were all ready for lunch, so it was time to head back to Saladin for some delicious food and to prepare for the afternoon session..another trip into the forest, but this time with a twist.

I swear we all came home 5 kilos heavier, the food at Saladin Lodge was to die for! Our beautiful hostess, Kim, made everthing in her glorious commercial kitchen, from fresh local produce, and I all I can say is WOW! I so wanted to bring her home with me and it was a real shock to the system to come home after four days with Kim, and have to prepare meals again, I can tell you!

After lunch we headed back to our second secret location, and this time with the girls looking particularly terrifying as a black witch and a creepy clown…lets face it, what clown isn’t creepy… we played in the dark and moody forest all afternoon. We wanted scary and dark with a flair for the dramatic and that’s precisely what we got! Costumed up to the eyeballs, literally, the girls and their horses were simply incredible in the dark forest!

Day three saw us up early and enjoying the fog and mist before the sun popped out. The horses were allowed to play at liberty and have a gallop through the trees before the sun poped up. Great for learning about movement, and how to work with tricky light.

Later in the morning, Sharryn and Pandora put on a stunning show for us. They danced at liberty across the lawn in as Isis (the egyptian goddess) inspired costume, as the sun peeked through the mist. So beautiful to watch and even more beautiful to photograph. A great deal of training goes into building a relationship like this with a horse and Sharryn and Michelle spend many hours working with their horses to be able to perform like this. The mutual trust is extraordinary!

An afternoon of editing followed so we could sort all the images taken so far, back them up and getting started on bringing out the magic in them. Set up in the conference room upstairs, wall to wall laptops and toasty warm after being outside. Nothing like a few hours of editing to see how amazing the shoots so far had been.

Dinners were just delicious as was the story tellling around the fire place. Learning of the history of Saladin Lodge and hearing Kim tell stories of the triumphs, tragedy and heart ache to showering with echindnas…I kid you not, it just makes us all love this place even more. I think I speak for everyone when I say there is a special place in our hearts for Saladin after spending this special time here.

Day four dawns and there is a sense of sadness knowing this is our last full day here. It’s raining and grey and not entirely enticing to head outside and photograph, but regardless, that’s exactly what we did! After breaky we headed out and watched in awe as the girls and their horses, gowned up and looking fabulous, performed in the rain! Saddles got wet, makeup ran, costumes and horses were soaked…it didnt matter. The light was soft, even and beautiful and just perfect for portraits. The rain created an atmosphere to our images and as the girls posed, we learned and watched and photographed in the rain with them. Now I know that sounds all romantic and all…but it was freaken cold…and wet! So while we did get some amazing photos, and no one can ever say we are ‘dry weather riders’, it was challenging and the girls were cold…and wet through. I am so deeply grateful to our models Sharryn and Michelle for going SO FAR above and beyond. Every single shoot, they put their heart and soul into it with me, to make this an incredible masterclass for my ladies, and without sounding overly dramatic, I LOVE THEM BOTH TO PEICES! ♥

Our final shoot was a black background session set up in the shed near the lodge. Clearing a space and putting up the backdrop together so my ladies can see how it all works and why. Flash was our main man for this one and I had made some flower garlands to put in his mane and forelock. Can’t say they were perfect, but he certainly was. Posing like the star he is, my ladies learned how to position Flash and get his body bending and moving to capture his beautiful expression and kind eye, along with his pretty mane, tail and forelock.

On our final morning we enjoyed one last breaky together before we had to head back into the real world. A few tears were shed with lots of hugs and goodbyes. We had all had the best time. Created some incredibly imagery and enjoyed wonderful friendship and hospitality. Now I can’t wait to do it all over again in 2023 ♥

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