Sunday, 18 December 2011

Ola and Isa


Guest blog post by Olga Dziewulska. Olga has helped me on many of my non-commissioned photoshoots and has a great passion for animals and photography - particularly useful when I am photographing animals. 

There is no better time of the year to reminisce about the summer holidays than the middle of the winter. Charlie and I have been in a number of interesting places for his People and Animals project and have met some really fascinating people. Last summer he flew all the way to the middle of nowhere in Poland to take photos of Marta and Krzysiek, the owners of Kasztanka Stables. And as we were there we thought we could make some money towards our return flights by offering photo-shoots for the people who keep horses at Kasztanka’s livery. And this is how we met Ola and Isa.

I have been admiring Isa, a stunning jet-black Friesian mare long before I met Ola. Isa is the epitome of her breed: her draught-horse past is clearly visible – she is large, muscular and when in motion – absolutely breath-taking. You wouldn’t however want to be on her path when she is galloping towards you. Actually, I bet you wouldn’t even want her to trot at you. She is an impressive beast. I was therefore thoroughly surprised when after a few phone calls about the details of the shoot I finally met her owner. A petite blond, so small she looked like she could easily be blown away on a windy afternoon arrived with a car-full of outfits. Both for her and her beloved pet. Physique notwithstanding, there is nothing small about Ola. She is a doctor with multiple surgeries to tend to and patients all over the region. She is always on the go and applies herself fully to everything she tries. And from what it seems she likes to try things and was really excited about their very first photoshoot.


I had the pleasure to help out with preparing both of the models. Ola brought most of her wardrobe and quickly chose three different outfits for three different sets of photographs we were aiming to get. Then we prepared our four-legged model – a shower and multiple doses of multiple hair products later both of the ladies were ready for their shoot.

What was meant to be an hour turned into a whole afternoon and if it wasn’t for the sun deciding to set on us we would have gone on. Ola was a keen and cooperative model and very soon her and Charlie had no need for my interpreting skills and managed fine on her own. Isa, the horse, was a bit nervous to start with, which actually suited us well. A nervous horse is a tense horse and a tense horse is taller and much more eye-catching than a lazy one. We got the shots showing the contrast between the owner and her pet early on and then focused on the relationship between the two. Ola had no problem controlling her horse bareback and in stilettos. She was a cheeky cowboy in her western shoes and never lost any of her elegance in the cocktail dress. Isa although a bit more stubborn than her human, also made a good model. Horses can be very temperamental – they don’t like being on their own in places they know as a group, they don’t like their owners walking away and they definitely don’t like reflectors. Isa however after initial introduction with Charlie, me and the reflector seemed to be cool with us. She even withstood calmly the ever-present flies, so annoying and potentially painful for horses in the summer. 

Ola wanted a full set of photos – some portraits and some riding. Friesians are exceptional animals (though I may be a bit biased) – their gait is really high and therefore has great potential to deliver spectacular shots and not less of a spectacle for the people watching. Ola dressed Isa up in pink and changed into her casual riding gear. They took it to the dressage ring and were cantering in no time. Charlie, as it turns out, knows no fear and was happy to have Isa ride straight at him until he got the right shots. Isa also seems unmoved by her human’s desire to ride into a person. And you could see how much fun they were all having. Ola – completely relaxed in the saddle, Charlie with his monopod in the middle of the ring and Isa – gathering speed with every circle she did. We then took Isa’s saddle and bridle off and caught the last few rays of sunshine of Isa trotting and cantering around. Ola by that point had to chase her a bit, as Isa was well past her feeding time and hold a bit of a grudge against us all. You should have seen how happy she was ten minutes later when we let her back into her box to the fresh hay and some carrots.

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I have to say it was one of my favourite of Charlie’s shoots. I sincerely hoped one of the livery’s Friesian horses would want some photos taken. What I didn’t hope for was meeting such a great person with so much passion for her horses (she has more) and life in general. Being surrounded by people who like to enjoy themselves is surely the best way to spend an afternoon. And if you add an amazing animal and some sunshine to it then asking for more would just be greedy.

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Thank you Ola for ideas, attitude and company. I look forward to our next ride. Thank you Charlie for the willingness to come to Poland. Though I am sure you know it is worth it.


1 comment:

  1. you got some really awesome photos here. the images look top quality.