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Equine Studio Portraits with Polo Ponies

Between May and July each year, I slightly re-adjust my Equine Photographer hat, and go into my Equestrian Sports Photographer mode. I work as a freelance Polo Photographer, for various tournaments and teams during the season. You can see some more images HERE.

My duties are to attend all their matches during the two high goal tournaments in the UK, the Cartier Queen’s Cup and the Jaeger LeCoultre Gold Cup, and this also includes any private matches that go on in between. When I’m being a Polo photographer, my job is to provide images to create a story of the days match, and hopefully following the team through to the finals. In 2015 we won both the tournaments and last year, 2016, we only got to the semi final of the Cartier Queen’s Cup but then went on to win the Jaeger Le Coultre Gold Cup.
Working for just the one team does give me some unrivalled access to the players and their ponies. So I was able to take the equine studio over to their main grounds at Billingbear Park, in Berkshire, just before the final of the Gold Cup. Ideally, I like to do the studio shoots indoors, so we don’t have to worry about any changes in the weather, and especially my worst a enemy, even on a fine day, the wind. Unfortunately the spot that I had scouted out a few days earlier turned out to be 1 metere too short, (dont rely on me to measure anything). So we ended up out in the yard. Fortunately with only a slight bit of wind it was ok, though the rain that came in towards the end put a stop to everything.
Setting the Equine studio up takes about 45mins – 1 hour, which seems a little crazy considering how little time it can take sometimes to photograph the horse. I think we did about 15 that afternoon, more than I have ever done in one day! One of the pleasures of working with polo ponies is they’re so well behaved and will literally stand still wherever I want them. It’s no problem at all to just unclip the lead rope and know they’ll stay there. I often don’t shoot full length portraits, however as the grooms had gone to the trouble putting on hoof oil, I felt a little obliged. As a result I think the full length shot worked really well.

(above l & r) Cube in action at the Jaeger LeCoultre Gold Cup 2016 and being awarded “Best Playing Pony” by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, at the Cartier Queens Cup 2015.

“Cube (Norman Pentaquad x Cubita) 15.1h, 11yo mare bred by Ellerston, owned and played by Facundo Pieres, “……the perfect mare”. XI Polo Awards Outstanding High Goal Pony and BPP 2015 Cartier Queens Cup.

(above l & r) Sarmiento in action at the Jaeger LeCoultre Gold Cup 2016, and at the end of the match being presented the “Best Playing Pony’ award.

“Sarmiento” (Ellerstina Sunset y Escarapela) Best playing Pony. Gold Cup 2016, owned by Marcos DiPaola, played by Facundo Pieres.

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  • Fletcher DaviesMarch 16, 2017 - 7:58 am

    Beautiful images Mark, I still have lots to learn, but am making steady progress. I check in to your website from time to time, just to see new work. Personally, I think you are one of the best equine photographers down south. Regards Fletcher ReplyCancel

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