In the spotlight: Astrid Harrisson

Astrid Harrisson has the innate ability to capture in a single shot what makes horses so special.  She says, "I see myself as a photographer who is inspired by all things horse." Animal photography requires both skill and luck.  Subjects often don't co-operate, and if they do, then nature has to align: the light, weather and conditions need to be perfect.

Astrid was one of the founding contributors at Lumitrix, and remains one of our most popular Fine Art photographers.  An equine photographer with an international reputation she has been exhibited as widely as Dubai, Palm Beach, India, Aspen and London, and is available to buy online here.

Her most recent series is a collection of images taken at a Sikh festival in the Punjab called Holla Mohalla. The tradition dates back to the times of the 10th Guru, and it is held every year in a town called Anandpur Sahib, the birthplace of Sikhism. The festival revolves around the Nihangs, peaceful Sikh warriors, and one of many global cultures and sub-cultures living and thriving alongside the horse.

Astrid has made a career following and capturing these cultures.  She was commissioned to photograph the Camargue horses for a book, The Majesty of the Horse, and succeeded in injecting originality and grace into the familiar subject material.

"The horses were flighty, responsive, spooked at the crack of a twig underfoot. Mostly they were unapproachable, until the end of the shoot when the sun came up and they began grazing and relaxing.  Then I spent a few moments with them, chatting and saying good morning. Sometimes things just look better in black and white. No fuss, no colour, no distraction. It's all about simplicity."

Another of her series saw her photographing the Marwari horses and their horsemen.  For the uninitiated, in 1576 the mighty Maharan Pratap of Mewar was engaged in a fearsome battle.  According to tradition, his horse, Chetak, although wounded, carried Pratap safely away from the battle, but then died of his wounds.  The Marwari horses of today are Chetak’s descendants, and are known for their grace, bravery and loyalty.

The horses that Harrison photographed belong to Satish Seemar, who was originally from Punjab but who now lives in Dubai. "Satish was very generous, and happy to share his Marwari horses with me. I visited his farm in Punjab, which was about a seven hour bumpy ride from Delhi.

On the day of the actual shoot, we set out before dawn. If you have ever visited North West India you will have experienced how wonderful the morning light is. Fresh, cold mornings and warm hot days in the desert bring a tremendous morning mist with a vast palette of purples and pinks. Having warmed ourselves with freshly brewed masala chai, we went out onto the farm to watch the horses being worked. Marwaris are light-footed, agile and spirited and, for me, this image of them circling and kicking up dust encapsulates everything that is special about them."

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