It is the time of year for reflection and over the festive period I have found myself thinking about the past year and wondering how I managed to fit everything in!  So, as we wave “Au revoir” to 2018 I thought I would put pen to paper and indulge myself with a few highlights from the last year.

2018 seems to have been a rather Scottish year for me.  I simply adore the rugged landscapes and dramatic backdrops of the Scottish countryside so it was a very welcome turn of events to find myself heading up the M6 on a number of occasions to photograph some beautiful horses.  One trip saw me heading to Blairgowie in Perthshire.  Nestled on the banks of the River Ericht, it is a truly picturesque part of the British Isles and was the perfect setting for a fabulous photography session with Nikki Sinclair and her horse, Jake.  The pair have recently become TV stars as contestants in the hugely popular Omega Equine All Star Academy on Horse and Country. 

Nikki and Jake

Another visit to Scotland saw me heading to an estate just outside Troon, a quaint seaside town which overlooks the Isle of Arran.  Once again I could not have wished for a better location to photograph a whole raft of animals from horses to cats and even a chicken!  During this particular shoot, the stars aligned to offer me the perfect setting for this photograph – an enchanting path through the trees with soft sunlight dancing through the branches of the trees.  It still sends shivers down my spine just looking at this photograph. 

I love this magical setting

My Scottish adventures were not over and a trip to Eriskay island to photograph the semi-feral herds of Eriskay ponies was a massive high point of the year for me.  As you will know by now, my Wild Hearts fine art project, focusing on the native breeds of the British Isles, is a great passion of mine and this year has seen me traveling the length and breadth of the country to capture our noble native breed horses and ponies in their natural habitat.  I have photographed and fallen in love with the majestic yet gentle shire horses; who could forget Eric, the stunning Suffolk Punch heavy horse? I have captured images of fell ponies and highland ponies in the wild; yet travelling to Eriskay, trekking over the island to find a herd of these beautiful, hardy and intelligent ponies, lingers in my mind as one of the most special moments of the year.

One of my favourite images of an Eriskay pony

I feel very privileged in that every commission I undertake results in creating a new friendship – so thank you to each and every one of my new clients and friends, it has been a joy to meet all of you and your beautiful animals.  There are so many noteworthy stories I could mention but just to pick out another couple of highlights – I am a huge Harry Potter fan so I hope I am to be forgiven for becoming a bit starry-eyed when I visited the actual castle that was used for the quidditch matches in the Harry Potter movies.  I photographed the owners’ three gorgeous vizsla dogs and then enjoyed dinner in the castle as their guest – it made me feel very Hogwarts! 

Very Harry Potter!

Another commission that touched my soul was with Abby and her elderly pony Poppy.  Abby had crafted a flower garland for Poppy and they both looked absolutely stunning.

Abby and Poppy

I am proud to have been featured in a number of magazines this year including Horse and Rider and the Rare Breeds Trust magazine and also to have won Pet Photographer of the Year for the second year running.  It is always reassuring to know that your work is appreciated.

And so, with 2019 round the corner, what does the new year have in store for me?  Well, I will be keeping busy with my private commissions, with a number already in the diary including another trip to Scotland in the Spring!  A further focus will be on developing fine art commissions using a beautiful, ancient technique called photo encaustics.  I am excited about being able to offer clients the opportunity for them to own unique statement pieces of art of their very own horse – rather special, I think.  My labour of love, Wild Hearts, is set for completion in the coming year too and will be compiled into a coffee table book and launched at an exhibition so it looks set for another busy year!

As we say goodbye to 2018, all that remains to be said is a very Happy New Year and I look forward to meeting up with as many of you as possible in 2019.

Esther

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