Equestrian Photo Workshops/Riding holidays with Black Colt

How many of you would love to travel to an exotic destination, like Italy or India, Byron Bay or The Hunter Valley, riding boots and camera in tow? And in the process learn to take stunning images of your or others' horses. Black Colt is about to announce dates for upcoming photographic workshops over the next few weeks and I am pumped. Mostly because when I first went to overseas workshops years ago I was dying to learn everything, and I imagine my passion drove people mad. I left with questions and learned from that.  But I digress. More on that in a minute.

Six years ago I undertook my first equestrian photo workshop in Tuscany at the beautiful stables and property Il Paretaio in Italy. I did pack my riding boots and actually nearly didn't make it on to the plane as my boot polish completely spun out the bomb detector. Security was going through my camera bag in slowmo, with me dying to put my boots back on and make the first leg of the trip to Germany. I am no sprinter but I definitely surpassed my personal best to make it onto that plane much to the amusement of my fellow passengers.

After a trip from Frankfurt to Florence I discovered that my chosen accommodation was absolutely gorgeous, well priced and in a great hood. Nailed that one. I even had a painted fresco on the ceiling. With my very own cuppola I could stare at on the ceiling as I finally lay down to chill out. A few days in Florence to break my trip was fabulous and I was already overweight in the baggage department with amazing new boots and coats when I left for the next leg. Not to mention fabulous memories of meals out at communal tables and bargaining with seemingly charming, handsome men in leather stores. Bargains and hilarious interactions!!! I headed to my final destination Il Paretaio in Tuscany with excitement.

Learning to do whatever it takes to get those ears forward. More to come on reflectors and shadows...

Learning to do whatever it takes to get those ears forward. More to come on reflectors and shadows...

After what became an evening ritual of apperativo (pretty much an Apparol Spritz that seemed to keep on giving) on the terrace looking over the entire Tuscan Valley with the other international guests we got a course rundown and a tour of the stunning property, stables, equestrian chic rooms and cottage. Oh and did I mention dinner? A table for 14 next to a roaring fire and a piano with at least eight divine courses. Convivial indeed. And major food remorse only to start all over again the next night. Impossible to refuse.

So although the equestrian photography workshop was for 3-4 days, there was another beautiful element to the trip. Dressage, dressage and more dressage. Or showjumping if it was your thing. The lessons were held twice a day and you could indulge as much as you liked. Priced in Euros they were very reasonable as a package and several people stayed on to indulge. I had one of the most amazing lessons with owner Cristina who has studied with students of the great classical dressage riders like Nuno Olivera. Gianni is also an exquisite rider and the horses are world class. Beautiful to ride and breathtaking to photograph.

The other indulgence was one that appealed...shopping! Positioned between San Gimingnano and Siena, it was an easy 15 minutes to both by car or local bus. The villages didn't disappoint.

The brilliant international grooms and Gianni's 18.2hh dressage horse (after)...

The brilliant international grooms and Gianni's 18.2hh dressage horse (after)...

What it actually looked like behind the scenes...Two ears forward and five grooms eyes to me. Mostly! Oh and a reflector. Such a difference!

What it actually looked like behind the scenes...Two ears forward and five grooms eyes to me. Mostly! Oh and a reflector. Such a difference!

Behind the scenes learning to take the perfect stud head shot.

Behind the scenes learning to take the perfect stud head shot.

Not only was this a gorgeous boy to shoot, he was fun to ride back from a wine and cheese feast. Hilarious.

Not only was this a gorgeous boy to shoot, he was fun to ride back from a wine and cheese feast. Hilarious.

You literally ride through fields of poppies to wine and cheese tastings. Then you tie your horse up to a clothes line!

You literally ride through fields of poppies to wine and cheese tastings. Then you tie your horse up to a clothes line!

One of many stud portraits I took. Amazing to have such a range of breeds and stunning horses to shoot.

One of many stud portraits I took. Amazing to have such a range of breeds and stunning horses to shoot.

A photomontage of two Anglo Arabians at Il Paretaio created years later. This is where the fun begins.

A photomontage of two Anglo Arabians at Il Paretaio created years later. This is where the fun begins.

Ultimately we all left with new portfolios of fine art horse images, amazing friendships, a renewed passion for riding and the desire to return. 

Some years later and over a decade into my career I have designed a workshop that not only concentrates on the shooting side of things, but also creative editing, and how this ultimately shapes your style. Part of the workshop would be dedicated to this aspect of the workflow, as I believe that is what separates peoples' work. In my next blog I will outline what Black Colt will offer and where we will kick off the Australian workshops (hint Byron Bay is on the list...)

Til then stay warm,

Nicole