Archive for the 'Horse Photography' Category

23
Oct
14

How we craft our lives, part 1

I have a few excuses for not blogging for such a long time. (Teaching, leading tours, working, writing, too much time on airplanes, LIFE.) None of them is sufficient. But I’ve also been at a loss for a meaningful subject. It hit me three days ago at the end of an equine photography workshop that I taught in California: community.

I have a mentoring client that has shaped her whole life around the idea of community. That has always seemed perfect to me for her photo work and projects….but I hadn’t thought about the concept in relationship to what I’ve been building. What else am I doing but that when we are gathered together to learn, to create and explore? And then that idea is compounded when I hear my students say “well let’s get together in Seattle and….” and “I’ve created a Facebook page to post images each month and you’re all invited”.

When a class comes together and builds on the friendships and community created during the workshop and extends that into their everyday lives, for a teacher, it is the most gratifying thing to behold.

It happened as well with a group that was traveling with me (and my co-leader, the indefatigable Arthur Meyerson!) in Portugal. They enjoyed each other’s company during the trip and have continued their dialogue after their long journeys back to real life.

I have my own community too, well, communities. My mentoring students keep me in touch with other work and other inspirations. They push me as much as I encourage them! And my own mentors are generous with their time and conversations. But this summer I’ve seen that I need to nurture my communities a little more. My students (they are always teaching me!) have shown me the value and I am grateful for the strong reminder.

So though photography is a solitary pursuit, demanding quiet, thoughtful intention, we can be part of a raucous, joyful bunch! I’m going to craft more time in my life for these days of joyful sharing.

Here are some images from Portugal, from California, and from Whidbey Island. All created this summer, in a community of friendship, photography, and inquiry. More to come in part two.

And for those thinking of returning or coming to the next equine workshop at Barbier Farms in June….OR on a trip to Portugal with me in 2015….here is some food for thought. My thanks to John Paul Caponigro for writing about his experience in a most elegant way.

http://www.johnpaulcaponigro.com/blog/12327/return-to-the-same-well/

 

21
May
14

a question of light

I’ve just finished teaching two workshops on two coasts in two weeks. And too many times I heard myself say “look at the light”! After talking for seven or eight days you can get very tired of hearing your own voice. So now is the time for me to be quiet and think about all that happened during these workshops in order to improve the next. I use many concepts and quotes from my teachers to break up the ‘me-ness’ of the class. But I think I need to add more. I found this quote this morning, thanks to John Paul Caponigro’s blog and it answers a question a number of students posed:

“Today’s photographers think differently. Many can’t see real light anymore. They think only in terms of strobe – sure, it all looks beautiful but it’s not really seeing. If you have the eyes to see it, the nuances of light are already there on the subject’s face. If your thinking is confined to strobe light sources, your palette becomes very mean – which is the reason I photograph only in available light.” – Alfred Eisenstaedt

Larapio, Lusitano Stallion, available light

Larapio, Lusitano Stallion, available light

I don’t like painting all my fellow photographer’s with such a broad brush, but the point is well taken. I don’t use flash for two reasons: first, horses don’t like it and second, I don’t use it well enough to make it seem like there is no flash. In other words, I prefer natural light.

I like the challenge of discovering a way to use all the light available. Very often, this means finding solutions to difficult lighting situations. It’s hard to put a horse in a soft box type of environment and then ask them to be dynamic. It can be done, but why not learn to see the beauty in light we are given? Seeing deeply, and truly learning how our cameras see light will create confidence and boldness.

Suplicio da Raposa, Lusitano stallion

Suplicio da Raposa, Lusitano stallion

“When I have a camera in my hand, I know no fear.” – Alfred Eisenstaedt

Shoot into the sun? Why not? It can be magical! No light? Get a light horse and shoot the movement. There is more light there than we think! Bright sun in the middle of the day? Find some open shade or shoot a sunny portrait. Better yet, look for some bounce light and make a beautiful, softly glowing image. The point is, there are always photographic opportunities.

Abby and Stella, PRE Mare

Abby and Stella, PRE Mare

 

Keeping an open mind and an open heart will help to bring these to your awareness. So, one last quote from Alfred Eisenstaedt, the great master: “Once the amateur’s naive approach and humble willingness to learn fades away, the creative spirit of good photography dies with it. Every professional should remain always in his heart an amateur.”

My students keep me humble and stoke the fires of inspiration and creativity. Thank you for a marvelous two weeks! And a special thank you to Patewood Farm in New Jersey and Barbier Farms in California. The people and the horses in both locations made work fun and filled the days with laughter and good spirit!

 

22
Apr
14

sun, flowers, Lusitanos

The winter rains have given way to the glory of spring. I’ve had the great luxury of photographing beautiful horses in flowers and dappled sun these last two weeks. It is marvelous to be out each evening in the woods and pastures after what seemed like interminable rain!

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Carlos Oliveira on Talisman, PSL.

 

There is something about these cork trees (quercus species) that I love. I keep thinking that someone in a toga will step from behind one. Silly? Perhaps. But this landscape says ‘human history’ to me. And for the last 500 years, the cultivation of the cork oaks has combined with the breeding and selection of the Lusitano to create a land and heritage that is Puro Ribatejo. And yes, I know….togas are much older than 500 years. But so is the cultivation of cork oaks here in the Ribatejo.

And speaking of togas, here is an interesting fact: Julius Caesar made his fortune near here in Alcacer do Sal (by harvesting salt) and with this strength of fortune and his army, became Emperor of Rome.

Enjoy the photos. I’ll be back this weekend with more, after the festival in Alter de Chao.

 

 

23
Mar
14

more driving from the Iberic Cup

I went back to Companhia das Lezirias for an hour or so this morning to photograph more driving. It was pretty amazing to watch the precision, power, and speed! Congratulations to all the competitors. I heard competitors from Belgium, Spain, and Portugal being called to the piste…but I think I saw some French and German flags as well. If any of my readers know the participants, please pass along the link! And congratulations/parabens to Companhia das Lezirias for a beautiful venue and event.

21
Mar
14

some driving fun and a Presidential visit

It couldn’t be too long until I had a post about horses, right? Today I photographed some preparation for the Iberic Cup championship in driving. Teams from France, Spain, Belgium, the US, and Portugal will compete this weekend for the Cup as they build momentum to the World Championship in September.

The landscape at Companhia das Lezirias is a favorite place for me so I had a LOT of fun. I know the place well, have friends there, enjoy the great restaurant ( A Coudelaria ) and it’s where friends stay when they come to visit me here in Portugal. I say all this just to give a nudge to you if you are considering a visit! I’ll be going back tomorrow and Sunday so come back and visit the blog next week. I hope you enjoy the photos.

Oh, and the President of Portugal visited today along with the Minister of Agriculture for International Forest Day. It was a marvelously low-key event.

26
Feb
14

workshop! horses! california! oh my!

I am totally passionate about teaching and sharing my love of photography and the horses too. I hope you will join me for this wonderful opportunity. Space is very limited so email me!!! (keron @ keronpsillas. com )

workshopfliercalifornia

 

 

25
Nov
13

Golegã, Portugal, Part 2

Following five wonderful days at Golegã enjoying the Lusitanos and the festive atmosphere, my ladies were ready to ride! For four days we had the privilege of riding and learning from a number of Senhor Pedro Torres’ horses. Ulisses and Trinco (European champion this year with Bruno Pica) taught the ladies the feeling of the upper level movements including 2-tempis, piaffer and passage.

The weather was perfect along the shore in Cascais. Perhaps a little breezy one day, but sunny and bright. We were also treated to a demonstration with retired world-champion Oxidado and Pedro’s new star Ahoto. Everyone remarked that it was tremendous to see the capability and athleticism of the Lusitano in full display. This seemed to be the theme for the entire trip.

Everywhere we went, whether at the Portuguese National School of Equestrian Art, sitting on Carlos Oliveira’s exquisitely light Botero and Talismá, or watching Ana Batista try new mounts for Tauromachie, we marveled at the horses. The Lusitano’s unique ability to offer brilliance and strength while maintaining a calm and willing attitude is the quality that engenders the great respect for the breed.

Enjoy the photos…and think about coming to Portugal to experience the finest Lusitanos and training. I have private trips available throughout the year, including riding opportunities and photography intensives with exclusive access. (keron@keronpsillas.com)

23
Nov
13

Golegã 2013! Part 1

I am woefully behind with my blogging. So in order to catch up I will begin with a fun subject: Golegã, the Lusitano Fair that happens every year in November. I was host to seven marvelous ladies this year who were eager to soak in all the pageantry and excitement that the Fair brings. And of course, they are all lovers of the Lusitano!

We began with a trip to visit Carlos Oliveira and his gorgeous Lusitanos. After some tack shopping at Mundo Equitacao with Catia, Maria Joao, and Maria Helena, we made our way north to our lodgings. For the first six days of our trip we stayed at Ourem Castle, in the Pousada and at Casa Alta Royal Lodge. Both are highly recommended!

The sights and sounds of Golegã must be experienced to be believed. There are horses everywhere, of all levels of breeding, training, and turnout. But the strongest impression is one of a shared love for the Lusitano, this National Treasure. Riders in traditional dress complete the picture of this elegant animal. As the day lengthens into night, the sounds get a little louder and the Ginja flows a little easier! It is, after all, a festival! But it is also a competition. Congratulations to all the breeders. The classes this year were super competitive!

Though my ladies were keenly interested in all things Lusitano, we did make time to visit some local cultural sites, including Tomar and the Convento do Cristo. It’s just one of many UNESCO World Heritage sites in Portugal…but probably my favorite. The mysterious history of the Knights Templar and outstanding architecture examples culminating in an explosion of Manueline style captured everyone’s imagination.

After our week in and around Golegã we went to Cascais for a four-day riding intensive with World-Champion Working Equitation rider Pedro Torres.  More about this amazing experience in the next blog. Until then….enjoy the photos from the first week! And if you look under November 2011 on the list of posts to the right, you’ll see more images from Golegã. Thanks for checking the blog!

 

27
Sep
13

playing in the light & a gallery show!

I am happy to say that I am back in Portugal for several weeks. I’ve been feeling a little ‘down’ about not photographing enough, so I did something about it!

Photographing in an indoor arena is always tricky. And knowing we were going to visit Senhor Manuel Braga to photograph horses in his picadeiro gave me more than my usual apprehension. I remembered that the footing in this particular arena is nearly black. Oh well….nothing to do but try! When I arrived I had a big surprise though…just the week before, Manuel had replaced the footing and now there was a lovely white reflective floor!

It was late in the afternoon so the light was slanting and a little warm. Horses were presented and ridden and photographs were made. I was generally happy with the result when in came a gorgeous young black stallion. Manuel turned him loose for me to photograph him in liberty, saying “he is very expressive”. This was an understatement!  The horse was a fabulous mover and he loved playing with Senhor Braga and Pedro. I was a very happy photographer.

There are some straight shots, a black and white conversion, and two with my favorite Flypaper Textures! Enjoy….more from the last several weeks coming soon!

If you are in the West Virginia/Maryland/Virginia area, there is a great photography show coming up in Martinsburg at the newly minted Berkeley Art Works:  October 3 through October 27 in the gallery at 116 North Queen Street.  I’ll be showing proudly but humbly with Mark Muse, Frank Robbins, Rip Smith and Robert Clark. I’ll miss the reception, but just manage to see the show when I return to West Virginia after some work in Brasil! I can’t wait. My fellow photographers have taught me a great deal and I am a big admirer of their work.  Passion for learning, for printing, and capturing the light unite us though our visions are wildly diverse. Go see the show!

21
Dec
12

The Four Schools Exhibition in Paris

After a few ‘non-horse’ posts, it’s time for an equine feast! (Photographically!)

I had the great pleasure to see the Four Classical Schools Exhibition in Paris again this October with the Barbier Farms group. I was there for the first performances in 2007 and to return was great fun! Overall, I thought the show was engaging, beautifully staged, and perhaps the choreography was a little more interesting this time. The Spanish Riding School from Vienna gave a lovely, tranquil performance, the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art was exciting and the Pas de Deux was a crowd favorite, the Cadre Noir from Saumur was gorgeously turned out and gave a thrilling jumping exhibition and stunning Quadrille, and my favorites, the Escola Portuguesa de Arte Equestre were regal and classically tactful. So, Kudos all around!

Just before we left the South of France for Paris, we went to visit Frederic Pignon and Magali Delgado. Frederic and Magali were the original performers and choreographers for Cavalia. We spent nearly an entire day with them and were treated to a wonderful impromptu performance at their house with many of their horses. Then we had a visit to their breeding farm with a surprise champagne reception in the field with the mares and babies. Their warmth and hospitality was matched only by their love and respect for their equine partners. Thank you, Frederic and Magali, for this marvelous gift.

 

23
Nov
12

essence

Readers of this blog will know that my favorite quote is from Antoine de St. Exupery:  “What is essential is invisible to the eye; one must see with the heart.”

While visiting the home of Ana Batista and Orlando Vicente in Portugal, this feeling, this belief was vibrating in me while I watched the horses work.

The epicenter of the Lusitano culture is the Ribatejo in Portugal. We were in the heart of it, watching and participating in the most important aspect of this culture. Working with bulls over hundreds and hundreds of years guided the breeders to create horses of amazing functionality, and brilliant, courageous…. but calm temperaments. We saw all of these attributes in action, along with the finesse and ability of their riders! This was the soul of the Ribatejo.  500 years of diligence, respect for the essence of the horse, and clarity of vision has created spectacularly bred horses. They enjoy what they are doing and perform with elegance and spirit.

As the light faded I had to shift my tactics for shooting. Slowing the shutter and feeling the movement was exactly what was needed. Though I was photographing, not riding, I did feel part of the moment, not just an observer. It was sublime.

The results? Of course it is entirely subjective, but I am pleased. Pleased because the images bring the feeling, the experience, right back to me.  I hope I’ve communicated a little of it to you, my reader. Thanks for stopping by. And if you REALLY love the images, come with me on the next trip in Portugal. Zip me an email and I’ll send you an amazing itinerary. Lastly, for my photo friends, these images were created with a slow shutter, panning, and a FLYPAPER TEXTURES layer or two in Photoshop using mostly the overlay blending mode. It’s fun, creative, and super simple. Push my button….just over there on the right side of the panel….and you can see all the fabulous things that Jill and Paul are doing over at Flypaper.

22
Nov
12

a common thread

My life has been immeasurably enhanced by living and working with horses. In the past several years I have traveled to beautiful places and met lovely, inspiring people that share the common thread of a love for horses. In the last three months I have been in Spain, France, and Portugal for extended periods. The opportunity to become part of the rhythm of  daily work with animals has re-awakened my love of living with horses. This part of my life has been dormant for nearly eight years. My stallion, Fol Amour, is retired (he’s a very spry 29 years old!) and living in California. I see him often, but not daily. Winston Churchill said “there is nothing so good for the inside of a man as the outside of a horse”. I have always known it, but it is alive in me once more.

While traveling in Europe, often I steal away to favorite esoteric sites to photograph and absorb the mystery. Tomar, Sintra, and the Convento dos Capuchos are a few of my favorite spots in Portugal. I’ve included several new images from these spots.

Here is a small gallery of images made since September. Most of the horses are the beloved Lusitano….but the breed is not the most important part of a horse. The teaching, grace and acceptance that all horses have to offer is their unique gift to mankind. As always, I welcome your comments and questions.

Next up: a report of a wonderful trip through the South of France and then on to Paris for the Four Schools performance!

 

18
Jul
12

Lots of news this week for Meditation for Two and my photographs! I’m thrilled and very grateful for a super publisher!

Trafalgar Square Books Blog

Tribuna Equestre is an online television channel dedicated to all things equestrian in South America. The “Masters Series” features prominent riding masters, including Dominique Barbier, who co-authored MEDITATION FOR TWO with photographer and writer Keron Psillas. The episode featuring Dominique Barbier was filmed in Cotia, near Sao Paulo, Brazil. You can see the introductory interview with Dominique, where he discusses his passion for keeping equestrian art alive and promoting nonviolent methods of training dressage horses throughout the world, as well as his book MEDITATION FOR TWO, in the video clip below (the interview begins about two minutes in and is subtitled).

Keron was so generous as to share some of the wonderful photos she captured during their day filming the episode. “We always have fun playing in the shadows at the end of the day!” she says. Watch for Keron’s article on revered dressage master Luis Valenca in the…

View original post 43 more words

03
Jul
12

more good news!

I continue to be delighted by great reviews for Meditation for Two, my book with Mestre Dominique Barbier. Here is the link for one from Patty Lasko, Editor of Dressage Today: http://broadcaster.aimmedia.com/dm?id=7BE80CE7103D774A158CFCBAFC4638F1

And we also received a wonderful notice in the USDF Connections Newsletter:

A LOVE LETTER TO THE HORSE….Sometimes we get consumed by the extrinsics of riding — this aid, that aid, this competition, that award. We lose sight of why we fell in love with horses and dresssage in the first place. In a pretty little book they call Meditation for Two: Searching for and Finding Communion with Your Horse (Trafalgar Square, 72 pp., $24.95), French-born classical master Dominique Barbier (Dressage for the New Age) and photographer Keron Psillas bring us poetry and flowers and flowing manes and Iberian horses in stunning seascapes. Musings on the nature of horses and horsemanship. Even a training tidbit here and there. Meditation for Two begs to be given as a gift or to be enjoyed in a quiet moment in your favorite sun-splashed nook. 

It is so gratifying to know that people are enjoying the book. And it has really ignited a fire in me to get the next book underway!  Stay tuned for that news.  You can click on the link above in the site header (Meditation for Two) to order the book from me. Thank you!

 

30
Jun
12

Light

From within or from behind, a light shines through us upon things, and makes us aware that we are nothing, but the light is all.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I found this after posting all the other images. As it turns out, it is my favorite. Thank you to Martina Brandes, as this is her horse, Bomilcar Interagro…and of course to Cecilia Gonzaga at Interagro Lusitanos. It is such a pleasure to visit and a great honor to photograph the horses!

30
Jun
12

Horses give us the wings we think we lack

I have had a super busy three months, with many miles logged on 777’s and the like. But wherever I land, I have the pleasure to be with beautiful horses and even more beautiful people. It makes all the hard work worth it! As I am sitting here in Cotia, near Sao Paulo, watching the setting sun rim everything in gold, my thoughts turn to grace and good fortune.  As a photographer I sometimes complain that all I ever get to photograph are horses. First, it’s not exactly true, and second, how ridiculous!  They are spectacular beings that have brought so much beauty to my life! How utterly human to be a bit ‘bored’ with this from time to time. And again, how ridiculous. So I’m giving myself a good kick in the pants and adjusting my attitude. The time will come when I am somewhere else on the planet and engaged in another photographic endeavor. But for right now I can only say ‘thank you’.

For my photographer readers….forgive the lack of editing? I am offering this gallery to my horse-lover friends! It is a collection of images from Brasil, Portugal, and Apassionata in the US.  Enjoy!

05
May
12

Journey to Interagro

Just before my most recent assignment in Kentucky (to photograph the opening of the US Tour of Apassionata!) I was in Brasil to photograph for Dressage Today. Our destination was Interagro, the incomparable Lusitano breeding farm of Dr. Paulo Gonzaga and his daughter Cecilia Gonzaga. Cecilia and her husband, Cristiano, have created a paradise on earth for Lusitano lovers. With nearly 1,000 horses and numerous stables, arenas, and pastures stretching into a seemingly endless vista, it is difficult to take in the care and detail that created such a wonderland.

But care and detail are everywhere if you stop for just a moment to reflect on the view in any direction. From the Interagro symbol on the tops of the stall dividers, the meticulously prepared riding surfaces, and the flowering shrubs planted to enhance the architecture at every turn, to the gleaming tack and polished wheels of the Marathon carts and the shining coats and braided manes of the gorgeous Lusitanos, it is evident that a loving, clear, precise vision guides every activity at Interagro. But make no mistake: this farm is not about show, it is about the working Lusitano! Everyone is busy at their particular task and the tasks are myriad. Interagro breeds driving horses, dressage horses, and working equitation horses. Subsequently, there are indoor and outdoor rings for each discipline as well as miles of roads for driving carts and carriages.

The gracious hospitality we received is the memory that has stayed the strongest. I have the feeling that we stepped into a time and place that exists in an alternate reality. A reality that values refinement and ease in every endeavor. Yes, I am gushing…but I’m sure I’d be forgiven if you could only share this experience. And the best part….you can!  I’ll be announcing a very special workshop that will take place at Interagro this fall. With Cecilia Gonzaga as our host and guide, International Morphology Judge Davi Carrano to inform us about the Lusitano breed standards, and me…your favorite equestrian photographer, to ignite your creativity and expand your vision of equine photography, we will experience the finest the Lusitano world can offer. Details coming very soon in this space. Stay tuned and tell your horsey/photographer friends!

30
Apr
12

Apassionata North America!!!

I’ve just returned from shooting the opening engagements for Apassionata North America.  WOW!!!! It was so much fun. The horses are gorgeous and so beautifully trained and the performers and staff were all so gracious and generous.  It was a lot of hard work but so rewarding and fulfilling.  I’ll write more about the experience, but I wanted to get this gallery up quickly for everyone to enjoy.  What I will say is this: the audiences LOVED the shows. The response from the people was ecstatic! So……go see this show! It’s wonderful for all ages and even non-horsey types.  It’s just great entertainment.  As always, comments welcome.

And for the last bit of Apassionata news….my photo from Frankfurt is the cover of this month’s HORSES FOR LIFE!  I hope you’ll click on the link and go preview this month’s issue. It’s always filled with intelligent, passionate, and insightful writing….all for the well-being of the horse.  Thanks, Nadja, for all your hard work and love for the horses! (CLICK HERE TO PREVIEW)

06
Mar
12

Simple Gifts

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free…’  Elder Joseph, Shaker Community

I made a new friend Sunday. He is sweet, sensitive, curious, kind, genuine, handsome, intelligent, gentle, angelic. We had a conversation that lasted for hours with neither of us able to move away. We talked about adventure, friends, animals (his favorite is the horse), racing, work, making new friends, imagination…..an entire galaxy of topics in this relatively short time.

Ten days ago, I had to fly overnight to Frankfurt, Germany, and then photograph the entire next day and night without rest, little food, and all the while feeling not quite up to the challenge. This was an important job for me and one that I wanted to create the absolute best images I could for a variety of personal and professional reasons. When I walked into the Festhalle in Frankfurt I was immediately concerned about my ability to do so as the space was so dark and cavernous. I don’t shoot with flash, and it would have been forbidden in this instance as my subject was horses. I was photographing the performances of Apassionata and the team that Mestre Luis Valença will be sending to the United States. The show debuts in Lexington, Kentucky, in late April.

I was prepared, had all the appropriate equipment, but I knew that if the technical challenge of such low light could not be overcome then even the most compelling image would be useless if it could not be used for print or projection. So I cranked up the ISO (1600 and 2000….EEK!!!) and set about the work. I resist chimping the screen in most instances, and with the action so fast and furious I would have lost the moments had I been looking at the back of my camera.

So about half way into the first half of the show I let myself relax and enjoy the actual performance. I noticed that I began to have a natural smile on my face rather than a conscious one….and I could feel some of the tension leaving my body as well. I decided to dial the ISO down…and choose moments to shoot rather than chasing every shot, every gesture. I was laughing out loud during the comedy parts, and floating into the romance and magic of the story. I was enjoying myself and allowing my curiosity to push aside the doubt and concern.

Back to my new friend: In all likelihood I will never see him again, but the impact of this meeting was so strong that it has caused me to write this blog post, and more importantly, to re-examine the swirl of my present life. Alexander, in the short time I shared with him on a cross-country flight, crystalised the lesson I had offered to me last week. His insistence about combining the world of imagination with the world we have built and others have built around us showed me that it is possible to remain a creative being, uninhibited by daily circumstance or momentary challenge. His self-discovery in the midst of self-creation was powerful to watch and reminded me that its okay, even better to PLAY while working. His example reminded me to drop the fear (the real word behind concern, worry, and insecurity) and rest in the knowledge that my intention will create a way.

Our teachers are all around us. Open your eyes and see with your heart. Thank you, Alex, for the simple gift of your spirit and kindness. You are so wise and wonderful. I hope your fourth birthday brings you all you can imagine.

29
Dec
11

What a note to end the year on!

I’ve just received a copy of the latest review for Meditation for Two…..I can hardly believe that it is as glowing as the previous one.  I had to post it and offer my thanks to Mary Daniels for her thoughtful, generous remarks. It’s going to be published in the February Issue of Dressage Today, available January 2, and on DressageToday.com.   Dressage Today????  How cool is that for an equine photographer/writer? Pinch me. Again.  (You can have your very own copy by clicking on the tab above!)

The review:

by Mary Daniels

As the title might offer a clue, this is not a how-to book about how to train horses, but one about a very personal and unique philosophy—“Because the nature of the horse demands it, this is a mystical, metaphysical book,” says Barbier. He writes about “allowing our thoughts to be happy ones, finding our smile and learning to use it through discipline, meditation, visualization and love.

“This book is a reflection about the love of horses and how much they care and want us to be better. It is my belief that were we to allow ourselves to listen, were we to allow them to speak, they would surely have offered such a book to us.”

I agree with what Psillas says in her introduction to this book. That “we ride as we are,” which is true, and “what better purpose for a life than to hold the space for beauty.” To me, horses are a thing of beauty. A joy forever as a great poet once said, and beauty is medicine.

Perhaps I am not mystically inclined enough to understand all of the text, such as the preceding idea that were they allowed to speak horses would offer such a book to us. The ones I know might just ask for a charge card to the nearest greengrocer, or a romp in the hayfield. It may be one must belong to the Inner Circle of this following to be able to absorb the more esoteric aspects of this philosophy.

But there were parts I liked very much and here are a few from Barbier: “Horses and humans: the idea of separation first and then a coming together when mutual respect and understanding are attained is too simplistic, though not to be ignored. Rather, if I can say, it is the sense of oneness first, and then how to remain in that oneness that I believe is the essence of successful and symbiotic interaction between human and horse.

“The horse must trust the student. He must accept and enjoy a comfortable position, something that does not always come naturally. In turn, the student must trust the horse, both physically and mentally. If your riding mentality is based in fear, the horse cannot believe, understand or feel comfortable with you. Panic and evasions follow. A void in the student creates a void in the horse. Horses are the mirror of your soul.”

“The attitude that we are the only or best conduit of energy is a limiting one. The horse is already here.  We must learn to be here. Our undisciplined minds and our egos cause us to live in the past or in the future and we must remind ourselves constantly of the goal of self-realization. Unlike the horse, we are so busy doing, we forget simply to be, we are so busy working, we forget to enjoy. Horses demand our presence, and this mental discipline in turn allows communication and oneness to happen. They teach us to be in and stay in the present, to share the same vibrations, the same space, the same energy. They teach us to replace organized unhappiness, unfulfilled dreams and expectation with the attachment and appreciation of the very moment. When acceptance and grace flow between horse and rider, the centaur can exist.

“An undisciplined mind is like a young green horse—full of life, scattered and uncensored. All manner of achievement is possible when the horse, like your mind, comes to the calm knowledge of self and respect of others. Together these notions bring harmony and joy. Gratitude and reverence allow us to be and feel that there is nothing we cannot do. Remember then, to say thank you. The open mind and the readiness for the path to further enlightenment will create real-life miracles.”

And my favorite: “I consider the shoulder-in the miracle movement. But I prefer to call it shoulders-in. The outside shoulder must be included in the movement, in our feeling of the movement. From the daily work for the original work-in-hand around one pillar, a technique centuries old, we need to understand why this is such a revealing movement, why it is such a powerful tool. The simplest answer is that it gives the horse a feeling of togetherness, then of independence. He learns where his legs and his body are in relation to himself and to the rider. This knowledge offers security to him and in turn, imparts an additional, undeniable mental strength, as any successful human athlete can attest,” he writes.

That said about the text, one must remark that the accompanying photos are lovely. Many of the subjects are of the Portuguese Lusitano breed, one of the world’s most striking and handsome. But there are also photographs of natural and man-made wonders, from the floral to the architectural, which make you pause and reflect.

The design of the book, by Psillas, is elegant and pleasing to the eye. “The display type of this edition of Meditation for Two is Cezanne with a nod to Dominique’s French heritage and to link and respect the arts of handwriting, photography and bookmaking, as well as the influence of the painting Masters on the history of photography,” she writes. The Old World sensibility in its creation makes this book a keepsake, a gift book bound to be appreciated by the receiver.


15
Dec
11

the importance of a message

I had such a wonderful surprise yesterday when I opened an email message from my publisher. She wrote to tell me about a great review in an important online journal for my book, Meditation For Two.  Happy as I was to read such nice comments, I realized that this was much more than a book review.

The words written by Cindy Foley were an affirmation on so many levels. First, people are searching for a deeper, more meaningful relationship with their horses. Dominique eloquently speaks to this throughout the book, and in the life he has led for the last forty years. Second, the power of the written word to reach people is magnified when you hold a book in your hands and immerse yourself in it. And third, the photographic image, when made with love and layered thoughtfully into an essay, can facilitate and amplify the connection. In Dominique’s words, it can “…create a greater molecular change”.

Cindy “got it”. I am grateful that an even greater number of readers will have the opportunity to experience the transformative nature of the book because of her generous review.  The most important thing about the book is its message; not the photographs, or design, though I am happy to have created them; not the number of books sold (though greater numbers would be super).

From the review: “The photos are misty, blurred…chosen because they speak without the need for a caption. They’re soulful, matching the words.”

If you are a photographer, consider your message. Work to find ways to incorporate your images with thought-provoking texts. I’m happy that Cindy understood why my photographs lacked captions in the book. I work hard to create images that speak by themselves or rest easily but meaningfully alongside a considered text. I believe it has made me a better photographer.

Thank you for finding and reading the blog.  Click HERE to see the entire review on Horse Journal.  You can order Meditation For Two directly from me by clicking HERE.

One last ‘message’…..my life works because I am surrounded by loving, kind people on every side. I have to take a moment and say thank you to Debra, Lisa, Chaya, and Alea for taking such wonderful care of my horse. Fol Amour is 29 now but thinks he is 5, still a stallion (and knows it), but has a good life because he is worked and cared for daily. I am on and off planes and zipping across continents, but my heart is at ease because I know he’s right where he should be. Here’s a picture of Chaya with her boy, Winston, taken just yesterday at Barbier Farms in Healdsburg, California.  Thank you, Chaya!

17
Nov
11

Golegã!

 

 

Now, after many years of wanting to visit, I have been to Golegã during the Festival of the Lusitano. Golegã: home to a number of legends of Lusitano breeding, including Manuel Veiga of Quinta da Broa, and Manuel Assunçao Coimbra.  As a longtime student of Mestre Dominique Barbier, I have been familiar with these names and have regarded them as the height of perfection for the classical Lusitano. Tracing bloodlines from Broquel to Larapio, one of Dominique’s stallions, has been a pathway through breeding and cultural history in Portugal (and Brasil) for the last fifty years. Dominique’s original stallion, Dom Giovanni, was also a horse by Broquel.

But Golegã surprised me in so many ways.  It was not just a history lesson or homage to the great breeders. It is a living, breathing, celebration of all things Lusitano. The rich culture surrounding this great horse is multi-faceted, and as a living organism, it is in a state of constant change. One thing remains the same; the festival is held each year over the Festival of Sao Martinho on the 11th of November.

I am still catching my breath from all the excitement, imagery, sounds and smells. Golegã was THE complete sensory experience. Hooves clip-clopping on cobblestones, with breath from nostrils and steam from flanks mixing with the smoke from roasting chestnuts….all competing with the cries of children wanting to pet the horses and the calls from one friend to another over a pulsing crowd, creating a marvelous cacaphony. I hope the pictures will give you a sense of the vibrancy of the Lusitano Festival. It has been a rich harvest for me and a rare instance of the reality far exceeding the dream. I am truly blessed.

My favorite moment from Golegã? That’s easy…the conversations and camaraderie all built around the love and passion for a great horse. Having dinner in a very small restaurant and meeting people from all over Europe that knew each other through the Lusitano, coming together to enjoy the festival, was a memorable night. It reminds me that the world, though vast in size and full of wonder, is made small, even intimate, by the connections we share and create with others.

Tomorrow I’ll put up a small gallery of images from Tomar and the Convento do Cristo, along with a few from the Cistercian Monastery at Alcobaça.

25
Jun
11

Abundance

The trip to Portugal and Spain was one of abundance. Everywhere I turned was a feast for all the senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. Although I no longer like this word, it was dizzying.

But the strongest feeling I got was one of connection. Of course I am at home with the horses no matter on which continent I find them, but watching a bullfight?? or visiting the village of Goléga, and Mestre Nuno Oliveira’s old manege, a Flamenco performance in the Gitane area of Jerez, the famous Bodegas of Terry and Domecq, and then the Convento dos Capuchos?  Each location was filled with a familiarity or sense memory for me that was suprisingly strong and completely unexpected. My challenge during this trip was to make meaningful images AND hold as much of the experience in my heart as possible. This can be very difficult when so much is packed into such a short time. In one day we saw a performance at the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art, had lunch on one of the most beautiful windswept beaches I’ve ever seen, visited a monastery built into the rocks at the top of a mountain, traveled back in time to visit the Manege of Mestre Nuno Oliveira, and finish the night (very very late) at a Fado restaurant in the Alfama district….smack in the middle of the celebration for the Feast of St. Anthony.  And on top of that, I needed to make meaningful photographs of all the participants enjoying their trip.

I always remind myself that when I am working, I am happy to get ONE picture a day that reflects what I have seen and felt. It is hard to put into words the satisfaction I feel having created an image that speaks to me.  If I had to use one word I would choose affirming. A successful photograph affirms my connection with the subject and in a very real way, my connection to life. This experience of being in the flow of BE-ING is one of the most rewarding parts of photography. As my friend and mentor says so often, “photography is a great way to BE in life”. He’s right.

It’s often demanding and tiring, especially during a trip like this. Folks are snug in their beds by 2 am and I’m up downloading images and cleaning cards and gear, preparing to be ready to go again at 8 am. Looking, with intent and a desire to see deeper is tiring as well, but often rewarding.

I’m at home now, working through a mountain of files, and video too, and trying not to think (yet) about the next trip.  As always, thanks very very much for checking the blog. Please do tell a friend or two about it. Wishing you an abundant feast for all your senses. ~ Keron

 

06
Jun
11

more fun with flypaper textures!

I stole a few moments today from a mountain of tasks to create a few textured images. Of course I used my favorite Fly Paper Textures (Hint….click the button!) and here are the results. I used some favorite textures from the original three….and a new one from their just released Spring Painterly collection.  I’ll work a few more in the coming days, then it’s off to Portugal and Spain. I hope you enjoy them. Oh….I need your opinions, please: Slideshow or Gallery format?

 

 

02
Jun
11

Feeling like myself…photographically