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Meet Elizabeth Hay

Today we’d like to introduce you to Elizabeth Hay.

Elizabeth, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I’ve been riding horses since I was eight years old and as a kid from San Francisco that seemed rather odd. There was one barn in the whole city but I found it! That passion was not “a phase” and continued into adulthood. I picked up a camera again after college and that remained a hobby for a long time until I finally put the two passions together. I think people close to me wondered why it took so long! I hold on to those city girl roots though and I think I try to take a different approach to equine photography than my peers by keeping some of those roots close to me and in my work. I seem to have a fashion perspective when I photograph a girl and her horse. I still strive my hardest to tell their story accurately, don’t get me wrong. I simply see things through a different lens I guess. Pun intended. My favorite thing about what I do is all the wonderful people and horses I can meet and the fact that many times, I become friends with my clients.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I think anything worth having is going to be something you have to work for and I work at it. I’m a self-taught photographer so finding the right information so I could learn was work. The fact that while I love what I do and I’m photographing horses, it is still not sunshine and ponies all day every day. The reality is that I own my own business so I have to present as a business. That means liability and contracts, competition and ensuring that you get clients and that those clients are the right fit for you. It means answering emails professionally, doing your bookkeeping and the list goes on. I still wouldn’t change it though because it made me learn a lot.

Please tell us about your work.
I mostly photograph girls and their horses and that in and of itself is not something everyone understands. You kind of have to be a “horse girl” yourself to get it. The horse in the photographs is not just a prop and it’s not a styled shoot. I always try and say it’s like an engagement shoot… You just take the man out and there’s a horse instead. The relationship is that significant and I think I understand that fully because I’ve experienced it myself. I am most proud of that desire to represent the bond between someone and their horse accurately. Again, it’s not a styled shoot, its someone’s real relationship with a 1000-1200 lb. animal that doesn’t speak and doesn’t understand what a photoshoot is. It’s an almost silent three-way communication between myself, my subject and the horse.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I was very very shy growing up. It was horses that first got me out of my shell and taught me that I had to talk to strangers and speak up for myself. I loved reading and writing and doing all the things hardcore introverts do.

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Image Credit:
Elizabeth Hay Photography

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