What a year 2017 has been!
On this day a year ago, running my own photography business was merely a dream I wanted to pursue in the distant future. If life was a storybook, there would be some inspirational event that changed my mind. For me, however, it was more of a process during which I worked towards the realisation that my dreams serve me no good as long as they are mere cotton clouds on the horizon. So, I just decided to take the plunge, researched researched what I needed to do in order to legally start a business and registered myself as a sole trader in July.
Last year I have taken more photographs than ever before, having met the most wonderful dogs, horses and humans (as well as some more unusual subjects) along the way. Without much further ado, I would like to share my top ten of 2017 – a mixture of personal and client images.
The yard where I first started riding in Germany two decades ago imported Gypsy Cobs from Ireland – still a rarity on the mainland in those days. I have been enamoured with this breed ever since. Naturally, my photoshoot last July with Sam and her beautiful big boy Maestro was a dream come true and was bound to make my top ten. This is one is my favourite image from the day, showing the two of them peaking out over the beautiful green ferns of Bradgate Park near my home in Leicestershire.
In the beginning of December, I took a special trip to the South of Ireland, where my dear friend Alena lives. Our relationship shows that friendships can survive the distance. We have spent 8 of the 16 years that we have been close friends living in separate countries! There are many photos from this trip that I am yet to share but this portrait of Alena’s gorgeous boy Jack is definitely one of my favourites. Jack has inspired Alena to get her qualifications as a licensed dog trainer and open Alena’s Pawsitive Dog School – and is hands down one of the most well-behaved dogs that I have ever had the pleasure to photograph!
I photographed Charley and her two horses George and Storm earlier this summer and our paths crossed again in August, when I covered a clinic with British eventer Ben Hobday that Charley had organised. This capture of Charley and George leaping out of the water element with the mud splashing has to be one of my favourite images of the year! The day itself, however, could not have gone worse. It was pouring and we all got soaked. To make matters worse the autofocus on my go-to lens for sports and equines had been dying a slow death and halfway through the day I had to admit there was no point in using it anymore. My only alternative was what photographers call the “nifty fifty” - a cheap and slow 50mm prime lens. Great for portraits but not the choice for action shots. The fact that I managed to get this and other great images with this lens served as an amazing confidence boost for me though. I learned that I can improvise when things don’t go as planned.
My other half and I spent our holiday on the beautiful ranch that Henrike and her partner Toni run in Germany. Just an hour from Berlin, we found this little paradise! Henrike needed a few headshots for her new coaching qualification as a western riding trainer but this remains my favourite shot of our photoshoot with the Quarter Horse mare Miss Schroder on the shores of a tiny nearby lake.
This one is a personal photograph that I took a few months before my little business was born. My boyfriend and I spent our Easter holidays in Colombia. While he admits that his first visit to South America and his first encounter with my style of travelling pushed his boundaries, it was certainly a dream come true for me. We both thoroughly enjoyed the trip though, no worries! One of our favourite experiences was visiting the Comuna 13 in Medellin. Known as the most violent and dangerous part of the city until very recently the borough has benefited from government investment into infrastructure. Its unique incorporation of Street Art from artists from all over the world, painting over the terracotta base colour that defines the rest of the city makes it the place to visit in Medellin.
This is another personal photograph that I took in October. My other half’s birthday surprise included a photographic experience with birds of prey. Run by Scott Latham from Wild Exposures, this half-day workshop at he Rosliston Forestry Centre near Burton-upon-Trent in Derbyshire. I especially loved photographing the eagles – they are so majestic and very different from any of the subjects that I usually see through my viewfinder. You most certainly won’t get them to pay attention to you by telling a silly joke or imitating a squeaky toy - those that have had a photoshoot with me will know what I mean! With the help of a light background and some editing I produced this high-key portrait of Thor the African Eagle. I just love the detail ins his feathers, making it my number five this year.
This image shows my other half - who was gutted not to make the podium on this list, by the way. I can reassure him that is was a close race to the top and he just barely scraped by. This is image means a lot to me not only because it shows the most important person in my life but also because it made me realise that I wanted to focus more on portraying people and not only animals. When we visited his mother in the Wirral early last summer, I fell in love with the local beach that oversees the Mersey and the Liverpool harbour on one side and wide, open spaces on the other. I longed for a dog to photograph there. We did not have a dog handy, so he had to be the stand-in model. I enjoyed my venture into people portraiture so much that several others followed throughout the year and I am currently preparing to officially launch this as a new part of my business!
One of those latest ventures into people portraiture was my photoshoot with Chris and Alex near Bradgate Park in Leicestershire. Sometimes I stumble across the best locations by chance. We were planning to shoot inside the park, but the gate was closed due to ice and snow. The disappointment did not last long though when I discovered this little shack covered in ivory on the side of the footpath. It did not only land me my favourite shot of the session but what I think is my best people portraits of the year!
Some of my favourite images are created spontaneously. I met little Odin while on holiday in Germany. He was such a bundle of joy and I loved playing with him but then he got very, very tired. This image was taken moments before he fell asleep by his human’s feet. It is not only my second favourite image of the year, but it was also one of my most popular posts on Instagram and Facebook. I’m not surprised, Odin is just too stinking cute!
Ok, so here is a confession: I might be a photographer, but I still wear mommy goggles. Apart from establishing Anni’s Looking Glass, the event of 2017 was Vanity coming into our lives. Naturally, a portrait of my baby girl will have to make my number one image of the year. From a technical point of view this is perhaps not the best equine portrait I have ever taken – not even the best one I have taken last year – but of course I am not seeing that through my rose-tinted glasses. Vanity always looks perfect to me. I love it so much that I’ve got it printed on a the most wonderful, thick canvas (also available to my clients from now on by the way).