Where I am
I’m in Arizona. Peoria Arizona, which is on the west side of Phoenix. Being from a more rural area of northern Arizona I didn’t know I’d like the city so much, but I do! It’s amazing to go to places I have thought about and gave up on since it was 4 hours round trip.
Tell us a little about you, what is your background & where do you come from?
I grew up in a small farming community in Indiana and spent my weekends with my Dad in Chicago. I had horses in Indiana and went to museums in Chicago.
As a kid I studied art from the Encyclopedia Britannica, using what the masters did to duplicate horses in pencil or paint.
In the country we lived rurally so there were not many kids around. I spent much of my time with horses.
As an adult I studied art in colleges and then started a construction company. I kept my art private for years. I was told to get a trade by my family, so I created a company in the trades.
I ran that company for 8 years and at the end of it I found I needed something to satisfy my creative side. I picked out an inexpensive camera to see if I liked it and then took it with me everywhere. The one place I couldn’t take it was to the pastured horses down the road from me. I got choked up every time I thought about taking their photo.
One day I decided to face that fear and that my love of horses was bigger than my fear. I wanted to set it aside once and for all
I let go of what I might look like, what judgements might be placed on me by neighbors, and what might happen if I let myself feel that emotion that was stuck in my throat.
At the end of a seemingly long road, I crawled through the fence with my camera. The horses, about six or so, came up to me. I walked into the pasture and stood still while they sniffed me and my camera.
Then the sobs came. I let them. I didn’t think or try to figure out why, I just stood there and cried.
Those horses, some with their noses resting on me, stood still too, as if they stood witness to my sadness. At some point I came to the end and began to laugh and cry and then mostly laugh. I laughed at how afraid I was of the very thing that could heal me. How all the signs were there and all I had to do was suspend my judgment, follow the clues and show up.
Since then I have been taking photos of horses. I have had a shows in Sedona and San Franciso, been the official photographer for events, and many other fantastic opportunities.
I’ve met some of the greatest people all because I showed up with my camera. Now I focus on cutting, reining, ranch horses and western life.
When did you take your first picture?
Some time in 2005, but didn’t get serious until 2006.
What kind of camera did you use?
At first I used a Pentex, then I graduated to a Canon 30D. I invested in my lenes first, 70-200 mm IS L series and 24-105 mm IS L. Now its time to upgrade the body again.
If you could pick any camera (regardless of price) what would it be?
Oh, I’ve heard the Hasselblad is the deal, the big daddy, however, since I have not used one, I’d get the 1D Mark III. AND… I’m sure if I were in the market the sales person would let me try the Hasselblad!
What made you first start photographing horses?
Not to repeat myself, however, to clarify, my love and my desire to face my fears and live with integrity.
Your favorite horse breed?
Cripes! I love all horses and can find some redeeming quality worth photographing in any one of them, and… I love the feathery ones like the Gypsy Vanners, Clydesdales, Friesens, but the Lippizzans are mystical and amazing in personality too.
Horses at pasture for a long time are special, even filthy and mud covered. When the herd comes up, which I don’t always encourage since it’s hard to photograph them when they are on top of me, but when they do and they haven’t been near a person in months, it still makes me cry at their ability to trust, and to see their curiosity winning out over their fears.
I am always honored when that happens and try to live my life like that, letting my curiosity win out over my fears.
Do you (or did you) have an animal that is the muse behind your work?
Oh, at first it was the buckskin mustang I have a ton of images of, Smoke. I fell in love with him across the pasture. It was absolutely that feeling of falling in love too. He was my center piece for my Sedona show.
I have more photos of him than any other horse. He was a wild caught mustang and I wanted him badly. I also realized it is the wrong time in my life to have horses. I’m traveling and like to have the ability to go when I need to. Right feeling, wrong time.
Now, it’s each horse I encounter I fall in love. I think that’s why it’s hard for me to photograph people, that intimacy is a bit scary still for me
Is there one place in particular that moved you with inspiration?
A place and time moved me, which was at a high desert round-up. It was remote, and on the way up a rocky road and around the mountains there were controlled burns going on, so it was smokey like fog.
Out of the smoke the group of them came riding. They moved together without speaking, like one mind.
Where were you the most inspired, but without a camera?
Sunsets move me, and here in Arizona the can be often around monsoon time. I admire landscape photographers, they have the talent to capture that emotion, that moment. It’s a gift to do that.
What effect do you think the Internet will have on art and photography in general?
The talent out there is fantastic! People are exploring creative parts of themselves they didn’t know existed.
Photography is for anyone now. We all can print, we all can buy the latest and greatest gadgets. So what sets one artist apart from another? Its who they ARE, not who they know.
How do you feel from that art? Does it offer clarity? Does it make your heart soar? Does it offer insight? These are all about who you are.
I was told, in the old days, it was about who you knew. Now, its a different type of connectedness the internet offers. And art of any kind offers an opportunity to see each other in a new light, without the social preconceived ideas we can have about each other.
When I see someone’s art I see into them. I also believe my art tells more about me then I could ever say
I think this is a way of connecting more people than ever, especially on the internet.
Has it had an effect on yours?
Absolutely! There is an artist in Australia, Catherin McMillian, who was moved by my art and is now making paintings from my work. Without the internet she and I would not have met. Also, it gives me the opportunity to share the west with the whole world, people who might not EVER have the opportunity to meet a cowboy can see one and what his life is like from my art. I hope to have more daily activities from this lifestyle soon.
Which one is your personal favorite image?
My favorite one is of Smoke, I took this the day of his training. His first round pen ever. It was one that I disregarded in the beginning, and only re-discovered it months later, when I looked with new eyes. This was the center piece to one of my shows. I have it framed 4 ft by 5 ft. and love it!
What else are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about my entrepreneurial pursuits which is about helping people break out of the box our minds can be in, and see the world without judgment. Seeing the world without judgment can allow for compassion and kindness.
I need constant reminders when I can’t be around horses, that I am more than what I see around me, that I am a creative being with boundless potential. My business and the people connected to it are those reminders.
More To Come
Thanks to Tami for answering the interview and sharing her photography. Be sure to subscribe to her Horse 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.