I love when I get to write this blog post because it gives me a chance to reflect on all the people and horses I met throughout the year and the stories we created. I love going back over each photo and reliving the laughs we shared and remembering the horses that crossed the Rainbow Bridge that year.
It's always so hard to pick just 10 photos, but I think I've narrowed down a pretty good bunch this year. Those last three were extra hard to choose.
Thank you to everyone who had me out to hype them up and snuggle on their ponies. Y'all make my life so fun and fulfilling (which means a lot to this veteran). Here is to 2022!
Amanda, Calvin, & Gus
Calvin and Gus are both young OTTB and boy did they give us a run for our money during this session. They certainly tested my abilities with working around what a horse is willing to do for me during a shoot. But there were moments like this, where I got a glimpse into the love Amanda and her boys had for one another.
Almost exactly a month after taking this photo Amanda had to let Calvin run over the Rainbow Bridge. I'm so glad that I was able to help Amanda in her grief by giving her photos of Calvin that she can cherish forever.
Allison & Albus
Albus was another one of my more difficult horse models. But if you were on stall rest for 2 weeks and then brought out into a beautiful, crisp morning you might be a little excited too.
This morning was absolutely freezing, but Allison was an absolute trooper. She started the session off in a dress without a single complaint. And I'm so happy that she did because the light this day was everything we could have hoped for.
As we moved on through the session Allison got more comfortable in font of my camera and Albus began to show more of his personality. Near the end of the shoot we had this lovely quiet moment between the two and it absolutely took my breath away.
Ashley & Blue (and baby bump Eli)
Ashley and her wife, Kourtney, became close family friends shortly after I moved to Texas. Kourtney became my farrier and we all just kinda fell into an easy friendship that grew into an extension of family. So when the two of them shared that they were trying to get pregnant we all rooted them on.
It certainly wasn't an easy road for them, but it just made their pregnancy announcement all that more celebratory. When the two of them asked me to help announce the gender of their baby with a shoot I couldn't have felt more blessed. They told me what they wanted to do, and I made the moment come to life.
This photo even became one of my most viewed TikToks for 2022!
Emily & Shai
I'm what most photographers would refer to as an "over shooter". It's not unusual for me to take about 1,000 photos during a 2 hour shoot (sometimes more). And while, yes, it is a lot of time and work to go through all those extra images, it has saved so many images where eyes are closed or mouths are open or something just isn't right.
And then there are opportunities like these. This image was one of several that I had that were roughly the same. And while this wasn't the best of the bunch, it still had a cool element to it that I was able to focus on and create a more creative image with. This then lead to finding other images that I was able to edit in a similar fashion and create a cool little series for Emily. But of that series, this image is my personal fave.
Lyla & Gus
Just before leaving Texas for Colorado I offered some mini sessions to help raise some money to send my horse off to training. Lacey quickly booked a session for her two kiddos who each had a request for their shoot.
Lyla asked to get photos of herself riding bareback in a big skirt. Isn't that every horse girl's dream? While I got several lovely images of Lyla riding, this one of her on the ground... wow. Even just viewing it from the back of my camera hit mama Lacey in the feels with how much her daughter had grown.
Ashley & Blue
That's right. Ashley and Blue are the first horse and rider that I've had make my Top 10 twice in the same year!
When Ashley, her wife Kourtney, and I started planning their gender reveal shoot Ashley commented that she would be willing to pose nude for me if I was interested. I've had this vision of a Lady Godiva goes Western shoot in my head for years so of course I said yes.
There is so much I love about this photo. The confidence, the softness of her curves, her pregnancy glow... I honestly could just go on and on pointing out things that make this image so beautiful.
Avery & Hank
Over the summer, my friend Tisha and I joined up over for a "Midwest Tour" from Iowa to NYC and back. We had a blast for two weeks road tripping and photographing horses along the way. One of those stops was to shoot Avery and Hank together! It was so cool being able to provide folks with the neat opportunity to see themselves and their horse through the perspective of two photographers with very different styles.
I don't think this session could have been any more perfect as the sun peeked over those Pennsylvania mountain tops. We both hit the natural light jackpot and walked away with images we absolutely loved for this light.
Now comes the hard decisions...
Jorie & Duchess
While this photo is #3 of my Top 10 images for the year, the location wins first place without a doubt.
Jorie was my first Colorado booking after moving to my husband's hometown over the summer. She told me she wanted to shoot in October when there would hopefully be some snow on the mountains. I thought, "Oh, that will be a cool location". But when I tell you the feeling of total bliss I felt when I saw the spot she had picked out for her session.
Jorie brought three horses for her shoot, but told me that getting some special shots of Duchess was top priority. So as our time together came to an end I knew I really wanted something epic of the two of them with the mountains. After moving them around a few times, we found just the right rise in the ridge for this shot.
Kristen & Crackers
Crackers is an incredibly impressive horse and Kristen is a hell of a rider. So I hadn't a second thought when I told Kristen, "Ride right at me at full speed," as I lowered myself into a prone position. I rarely do this, but absolutely needed this shot. Of course, I also asked Tisha to film for me "no matter what happens" and it lead to another viral TikTok.
Cass & Levi
This is the second year an Equestrians of Color photo has made my number one spot. But really, how could this image not be my top choice?
I am humbled to get to capture the stories of anyone who participates in the EOC Project, truly. But there is something so extra about getting to photograph indigenous horse people. Their connection with horses is so much more than just their culture. It is their family. It is their spirit. And it is awe inspiring.
You can read Cass' contribution to the project here.