Horse Photographer Interview – Juliet R Harrison

WaterfallName
Juliet R Harrison

Website & places you can find my work online
Website: www.lechevalthehorse.com
Blog: www.lechevalthehorse.blogspot.com
Smugmug: Juliet Harrison Photography
Facebook: Juliet R Harrison
Online Galleries: Carrie Haddad Gallery, The Cache Gallery & Equidae
My new book: White Horses
Follow Juliet on twitter: @lecheval

Where I am
Red Hook, New York (the Mid-Hudson Valley, 100 miles due North of NY City).

Tell us a little about you, what is your background & where do you come from?
I was born and raised in a wonderful small town on the North shore of Long Island called Huntington, NY. Life was spent roaming the woods and living on the beaches in the summer.

Horses were a passion from early on when at the age of 5, I was given a tiny volume of B&W photographs of various horse breeds. Riding lessons and several years at riding sleep away camps were all I had to fuel my passion.

Glacial Edge

When did you take your first picture?
Much of my childhood years were spent going back and forth into NY City to visit museums, the ballet and theater. Special rooms in the MOMA and the MET remain as sacred in my memory

I always remember having a camera with me. I think my parents thought it was right that a child should be able to document their life

What kind of camera did you use?
I remember a particular Brownie camera with great affection. I created my own photo albums which I looked at frequently. Photos of friends and family. Camp memories. Places we visited were photographed.

I did not get my first “serious” 35mm camera until I graduated from college. A gift from my sister. It was her camera, a Canon FTB. I have used Canon cameras ever since.

Vintage - Cabellero

What camera do you use now?
I am a traditional film photographer. My primary camera now is a Canon Eos Elan 7N with some zoom lenses. I buy all of my equipment used and don’t have much in the way of professional equipment.

I believe the photographer creates the image, not the camera

I work in B&W film that I print myself on Gelatin Silver paper in my basement darkroom. Very much a hand worked art form for me. Old school and very satisfying.

All of my work is printed in limited editions of 15 and in particular sizes, because I feel that scale in imagery is important.

If you could pick any camera (regardless of price) what would it be?
I just bought my dream camera last winter. It is a Hasselblad 500 c/m medium format film camera that is about 50 years old perhaps. It creates a negative that is 2 ¼” square. It is a larger negative than the 35mm and will allow me more detail and the opportunity to print larger without losing image quality.

But for now, I am learning to see square. It is very different from the 35mm rectangular image I am used to. I wouldn’t mind getting a Leica 35mm rangefinder someday as well.

Runnels

Who are your main influences?
My influences tend not to be photographic. Because of my childhood experiences, I feel I am more influenced by painters, sculptors and designers. Particularly the modernists.

I love the work of Georgia O’Keeffe, Henry Moore, Franz Marc, Boccioni, and the design work of Charles and Ray Eames, Earo Saarinen and Frank Lloyd Wright. I also have a strong affinity for primitive and Asian art.

Of the photographers my strongest influences came from Edward Weston, Judith Turner and Frederick Sommer. I think my work reflects all that strong modernist influence.

Camellia of the Agave

What made you first start photographing horses?
I began to take my photography seriously in my late 20’s. My work at the time was primarily architectural. Focusing on light, texture and shadow. Isolating pieces of buildings and objects. I received a MFA in photography from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan in 1991, after I turned 33.

It wasn’t until about 6 years ago that I started to work primarily with horses.

I started back to taking riding lessons 11 years ago and bought my first horse 4 years after that. Bringing my cameras to equine events seemed to be a natural progression

I started with some local rodeos. Working with the extreme action halted within the small image frame. From there my work has progressed to intimate crops. Almost abstracting the horse.

Like the architecture I used to photograph, I am working with light, texture, shadow as it appears on muscle groups, bones and coat patterns.

Your favorite horse breed?
I have no particular favorite breed. In fact, it does not matter if it is a show horse or a backyard donkey. They are all photogenic in my world.

Although I do have to confess to enjoying working with the large area massing of the drafts. And I am interested in the different body structures of the different breeds and what that can offer in my imagery.

My work is mostly self-generated, so I just go to all the equine events and barns that I can to get my shots. I would love to travel the world this way. Camera in hand

Solitude

What effect do you think the Internet will have on art and photography in general?
I am unsure of my feelings about the impact of the Internet. Or perhaps, to be more precise, I am more concerned about the impact of the computer in general on the world of photography.

The digital age has put the camera and the means of art production in everyone’s hand. In one way I cheer the innovation that again, brings the ability to create art to the masses and out of the hands of the elite.

On the other hand this has looked like it spells the doom for traditionalists like myself. With fewer and fewer darkroom photographers, the producers of our materials (film, chemistry, papers) are going out of business in droves. Making the materials left harder to obtain and much more costly.

It is also much more difficult to get the public to understand the difference between the hand-printed image and a digitally produced one. So, the creation as well as the marketing of the work becomes more difficult.

Anton

Has it had an effect on yours?
The Internet itself has made access to shared information, support systems for artists and marketing venues at the tip of our fingers.

I love that I have colleagues now around the world. And collectors that would never have seem my work otherwise. I have recently published a book of photography. It was printed via the internet and I have been selling it that way as well.

For an emerging artist, we suddenly have the wherewithal to market our work ourselves. This is tremendous

Which one is your personal favorite image?
The work of my heart is the series that I call Equiscapes. These images embody all that I wish to say both about photography and about horses.

WindSwept

They are abstractions of the body that are in truth a visual touch. They are what a person working with horses, sees and feels. Up close. Not the whole, but the part your hand is on, you eye is looking for.

The trainer watching a particular muscle group to see how it is working. The groomer who is touching the shoulder, tail, leg. These are what I want these images to evoke.

And then something more. Part of the world itself. The landscape in equine form. This is what I am most passionate about. I am an artist working in the medium of photography, using the horse as my subject to speak to my viewers about the world as I see and feel it.

More To Come

Thanks to Juliet for answering the interview and sharing her photography. Be sure to subscribe to her photography blog to keep up with her latest shots.

Also stay tuned for more interviews with horse artists and photographers.
Are you a photographer or do you know an equine photographer you’d like to see featured? Add your name and website in the comments below or drop me a note to get involved.

14 Comments on “Horse Photographer Interview – Juliet R Harrison

  1. Linda

    What a well-done article about a great photographer. Great to hear the important difference between traditional and digital photography. Thanks to both author and artist!

    Reply
  2. Marianne Weil

    Very interesting interview and I enjoyed seeing the photographs as well. Wishing you much success in future endeavors.

    Marianne

    Reply
  3. Kimberly Santini

    Juliet’s work is a favorite of mine – I love the seemingly stark simplicity of her compositions, which allow the planes of the equine form to take center stage apart from the sum of their parts. Horses are transformed when viewed through her lens.

    Thanks for such a nice article, Paige!

    Reply

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