Horse Photographer Interview – Shelley Paulson

Shelley Paulson HorseName
Shelley Paulson

Website & places you can find my work online:
Fine Art Equine Photography:
Flickr: Shelley Paulson
Follow Shelley on twitter: @shelleyp

Where I am
Buffalo, Minnesota, USA

Tell us a little about you, what is your background & where do you come from?
One of my favorite quotes is “All horses deserve, at least once in their lives, to be loved by a little girl.” I grew up riding horses and am still in love with Maggie Sue, the only horse I have ever owned.

Spending much of my life around horses intimately acquainted me with the beauty and grace of these magnificent animals. It is my privilege to combine a love for horses and a passion for photography.

Shelly Paulson Horse

I am based in Minnesota, and my photographic focus is equine/human portraiture that captures the true feeling of the relationship people have with their horses. My passion is to create photographs that will help my clients remember not just how their horse looked, but what it felt like to be with their equine companion.

I recently had the opportunity to photograph wild horses in northern New Mexico. It was a life-changing experience for me to spend three days with wild horses. I have posted the images to my blog here:
Part One | Part Two | Part Three

I also teach online courses through the Equine Photographer’s Network, with one on portraiture coming up starting August 1st. I will be offering a few workshops later this year both in MN and Kentucky.

Shelly Paulson Horse

When did you take your first picture?
I was a point-and-shoot snapshot taker until 2003. I got a film camera and quickly transitioned to digital. Horses were some of my first subjects, but I also started photographing weddings, portraits and commercial projects, which I still do today.

What kind of camera do you use?
I use 2 Canon 5Ds. A full list of my gear can be found on my blog.

Shelly Paulson Horse

If you could pick any camera (regardless of price) what would it be?
Probably the 1Ds Mark III or the new 5D mk II. I would also love to have a medium format camera with a digital back.

Who are your main influences?
My first workshop was with Cheryl Jacobs Nicolai. Her teaching set me on a path of creating photographs that reveal something about the subject, and about being respectful in the act of photography. I also attended a workshop with David Williams, where I learned a lot about creating photographs that are timeless.

Shelly Paulson Horse

For other influences, I’ve been enjoying these photographers lately: Deb Schwedhelm, Dani Brubaker, Tec Petaja, Samm Blake.

As for equine photography influences, I love the work of Andrew Wheeler, Suzanne Sturgill, Kimmerlee Curyl, Melanie Snowhite, and most recently, Lynne Pomeranz.

Shelly Paulson Horse

What made you first start photographing horses?
I am a horse owner and it was natural to turn my lens on them. They are my favorite subject.

Do you have a favorite horse breed?
Ha ha – I love them all!!

Do you (or did you) have an animal that is the muse behind your work?
There is one Arabian stallion I had access to for a season who was in love with my mare Maggie Sue. He was a stunning animal and I took a lot of photos of him. Ironically, his name is “Mentor”.

Shelley's Muse

Where were you the most inspired, but without a camera?
Christian spirituality is central to my life. I believe God to be the source of much of my inspiration.

What effect do you think the Internet will have on art and photography in general?
I have concerns that the internet is homogenizing photography. People are spending too much time looking at other people’s photos and copying technique.

On the plus side, it’s never been easier to find a wide audience for your work. There are also endless resources for learning and growing.

Shelly Paulson Horse

Has it had an effect on yours?
Absolutely. I am primarily self taught with photography and the internet was my main source of information.

Which one is your personal favorite image?
It’s an older image of a little girl kissing the nose of her horse. It epitomizes what my work is about – portraying the bond between horses and people.

Shelly Paulson Horse

More to Come

Thanks to Shelley for answering the interview and sharing her work. Be sure to subscribe to her blog for updates about her latest works.

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

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