This time we talk with UK photographer Ceri Dickinson of Pure Essence Photography. Not only does she live and love the horse life, she has a fantastic eye for capturing the moment. I think you’ll love seeing her work and finding out more about what makes her tick.
Tell us what a day in your life is like.
A day in my life can be very different depending on which day you catch me! I work as assistant manager on a livery and hunting yard so, on a work day, it’s up early to do my horses and then off to work. Work can involve anything from a lot of mucking out to schooling a horse, teaching a client or getting hunters ready for action.
On a photography day I will (again) be up early to see to my horses and then prepare for the shoot. It’s really important that all my gear (and back up gear) is in good working order and ready to go – batteries will be fully charged the day before. I also like to spend a little time reading through the booking form the Client’s fill in so that I can get a feeling of who they are and what kind of shots they are going to like.
On a day off it gets really boring – that’s when I have to catch up on the paperwork side of the business and do my housework! If I’m really lucky I might squeeze in a bit of free time to do some “just for fun” photography.
Are you a full time photographer?
No, I’m part time. In all honesty I’m not sure I would want to be full time. As much as I love photography I also love working with horses.
I tried to leave a couple of times but ended up going back! I’m very lucky with the job I have now as it allows me a balance. Horse jobs are generally all consuming, they are not a job, they are a way of life and I always accepted that. I never thought I would find a way to be able to do both horses and photography but I have an arrangement with my current employers that I work 3 days a week in summer and 5 in winter, which leaves me with enough time to do both! I’m a lucky girl!
What types of photography are you most known for?
I like all kinds of photography and particularly enjoy a bit of landscape or macro photography when I’m just having fun but Pure Essence is all about lifestyle portraits.
What led you to that type of photography and what inspires you when you’re behind the camera?
What first drew me to photography was landscapes. I love the outdoors and was constantly disappointed with my inability to capture the scale and beauty of nature on my little compact camera so I decided to go and learn how. I never intended to get hooked! I thought I would stick with my (decent) compact and just learn to use it better – how wrong I was!
At first I hated portrait photography, I thought it was too posed and false and there was too much airbrushing (no, it’s not just for celebs) the finished photo often looked nothing like the person once all their imperfections were removed. Then, one day, I was at a competition with a friend and was snapping a few pictures of her horse. I decided I would try not to attract her attention and grab a few candid shots. I loved the results, I fell in love with the idea of photographing relationships and moments. This technique is the aim of all my shoots whether with animals, children or couples I always want to put them at ease, make them laugh and then capture the real them.
What role do horses play in your life & in your photography? Any good horse stories?
Horses are a huge part of my life. I have tried to get away from them a couple of times but I’m always drawn back. I have worked in many different areas and have some amazing memories….. grooming at the European Eventing Championships, competing at the BD National Championships, seeing horses I’ve backed and produced go on to have wonderful, happy lives. I think one of my favourite moments was riding a pretty sharp, 14.3hh, 6 year old who had been bred by the people I worked for and backed and produced by me to 8th place in the BD Novice Winter Championships. It wasn’t the rosette that made me happy, I was just so proud that the little horse went into that scary arena with all the people and stands, etc and trusted me enough to get on with his job. Moments like that make all the hard work worth it!
What is the most favorite photograph you’ve taken and why?
My favourite photo is one from that first day when I was taking pictures of my friend and her horse at a show. Barnaby (Hailstone Hero) was a horse I had produced and sold, I kept in touch with his new owner and she became a good friend. I took this picture of Barnaby as he was tied at the side of the lorry, there are things I could have done better and things I would change given a chance but I love this photo as Barnaby’s personality just shines out of it. His owner has a framed copy in her home.
How can readers find out more about your work?
I am based in Yorkshire but am willing to travel to any area of the country with a travel fee, if you can organise a group of 4 or more of you at any one yard I would waive any travel costs.
My website is www.pureessencephotography.co.uk I apologise for the lack of updates on my blog – I’m a terrible blogger but there are plenty of examples of my work there.