by Arnd Bronkhorst
are many photographers at equestrian events these days but not everyone
gets a good picture, even when lined up elbow-to-elbow. What makes the
difference between a great image and a so-so one?
merely ok are nice snapshots to paste in the scrapbook.
They chronicle who, where, what, and when. The images that hold your
interest, make you see something you hadnt before, maybe make
you wonder about the moment captured and the story beyond, those are
the great ones.
photographs require technical proficiency and interesting composition.
They give a feel for the place or subject. The best ones contain a sense
of the intrinsic quality of the moment, and the photographers
response to it.
its inception, Horse Connection has been privileged to showcase the
images of Arnd Bronkhorst. Arnd has been photographing horses for over
20 years professionally and his work has appeared in numerous publications
around the world. He is based in the Netherlands and travels extensively
on assignment. He was a featured speaker at the recent American Horse
Publication conference in Albuquerque, NM, where HC was able to snag
him for this conversation.
- When did you first become interested in photography? Did you have
anybody who served as a mentor or who was especially helpful to you?
AB - I grew up riding, mainly eventing, at my parents' riding
school. I did some photography then, just playing, taking pictures of
other riders. I was never as fully immersed in horses as my sisters
and mother were, and when I had some time left before I went to university,
I decided to volunteer for a job at a local photographers' studio. You
could say he was my first mentor. His name is Henk Merjenburgh, and
he was a photographer "of everything." He taught me many things,
and one of them was that I am not a generalist. Later on, I studied
with Willem Diepraam, who has become renowned in Holland for his photography
documenting the social changes in Dutch society in the seventies.
- Did you think that you could make a living taking pictures or
did you have some other career that supported your interest initially?
AB - I had no other career, as I am quite useless in a lot of
things, and I had absolutely no idea what to do with my life when I
was 18-20 years old. I sort of tried to go for a Biology study, but
I found photography much more interesting than dissecting rats in a
lab. My photography career was certainly not planned, and I just went
from one thing to another, trying to guide things in the right direction.
I have however, always tried to make quality choices of what to do and
where to go. They were not always right, but at least I tried.
- What aspects of the business of taking photographs
do you especially enjoy?
AB - I like the fact that photography is very personal and tied
to what my eyes see and how my brain processes that. I like to get deeper
and deeper into my way of taking pictures, exploring it ever more. I
feel I am still able to refine and reshape what I do, and get better
- What led you to specialize in equestrian photography? What is
different about taking pictures of horses and riders from other sports
AB - The specialization just happened. Growing up around horses
gave me an advantage in this field. I was interested in it, and there
was not much going in equine photography. I felt I could do whatever
I liked, unlike many other areas that are crowded with photographers
and images. The sport is still relatively open with most of the people
being quite accessible. I like the elegance and power of horses, and
I feel that due to the fact that I am acquainted with both worlds, photography
and horses, I can combine the two to create images that are both "inside"
equestrian images as well as images that are aesthetically pleasing
or interesting in a photographic way.
- What are your favorite setups for taking pictures sporting
events, farms, candid shots, portraits, assignments?
AB - In general, I like the changes from one assignment to another,
from a strictly organized event like the European Championships for
show jumping, to a small photo shoot where someone has their horses
At an event like the European Championships there are many restrictions,
which I certainly don't like. You have to make the most of it and when
that happens, when you do succeed in making an image that is different
and telling, that is a very satisfactory moment.
With less pressure, you can wait for the light, wait for things to happen
and I like that even more. Admittedly however, the vast majority of
images that I consider to be among my best were not planned, not foreseen;
they happened and I managed to grab the moment. That is what I really
like best. I sometimes am in a place where I think that everything is
horrible: nothing works, no light, whatever. Then something happens
and I get an image that I could not have predicted.
HC - Do you have any plans for a book or
exhibit of your work?
AB - I have had some exhibitions: the Kentucky Museum of the
Horse last year, in France this year. Books are definitely on the list,
but for some reason I have not yet found the publisher with whom to
create the best possible book. I have not pursued this to any length,
as I am quite happy with the publication possibilities offered by my
clients from all over the world. I find it is very rewarding to see
my images published in ways and places that I never imagined when I
started way back when!
see more of Arnds work, visit his website at www.arnd.nl