Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. Early Evening.
The small town I was visiting in pursuit of wildlife pictures lies on the Southern coast of France. It’s characterized by the strong winds that bombard it, the ocean lapping at its shores and its wild horses. Undoubtedly, the region draws in people with its sheer beauty as well as for the opportunity to pursue equine photography. Its quaint charm is heightened by the sea of red and also cream roof tiles that spread out across it. The age of the town is conveyed through the wear and tear on the coastal structures, as years of troubled waves did their damage.
I have been shooting equine photography at this location for so many years. The juxtaposition of the water, sky, and also horses makes for truly captivating horse wall art. The water is about waist high, muddy, and infamous for having sudden drops and pits. I have refrained from getting in the murky water for fear of falling victim to one of these sneaky pits and dropping my camera. It would take a very special subject for me to risk completely ruining my equipment, and I had found one. To my camera’s potential dismay, I had found this subject in the Camargue horse. Argued to be the oldest horse breed in the world, these gorgeous cream-colored wild horses inhabit the marshes and wetlands of the region. Not surprisingly, they have done so for thousands of years.
The Camargue Horses
This breed of horses wasn’t officially a breed until the Association des Eleveurs de Chevaux de Race Camargue recognized them as one in 1978. They currently live in semi-wild conditions. The French government now has the horses bred under specific guidelines. The Camargue horses are also the trusty steeds of Europe’s only “cowboys” which are otherwise known as the “Guardians”. Aptly called the “Wild West of France”, this region is home to these cowboys who use the horses. These animals make for brilliant workhorses and also are tasked with herding bulls used in bullfighting. Their stocky build and easy temperament make them particularly suitable for this role.
While they are most famous for their milky white coats, Camargue horses are actually born with brown or black coats. They don’t lose this pigmentation until they are about 2 to 4 years old. This makes it particularly easy to determine the age of these foals. Despite being mostly white, they are usually referred to as grey horses for the greyish spots and patches they commonly sport. Overall, these animals made for amazing horse wall art subjects.
In Pursuit of the Perfect Picture
You would think that having the beautiful elements of the backdrop of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer would make every picture I take effortlessly gorgeous. Unfortunately, fate is never that kind to sloth. Even with my many efforts, I am never happy with my images from this location. Every time I plan to shoot in this region, I tell myself that, “this time it will be better.” But it never happens, I always left unhappy with the horse wall art that was produced from the shoot. Every time I was disappointed, but still not deterred from trying again.
Albert Einstein is famously known for saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” This time around, I decided to do something different. I asked myself, “What kind of photograph will make me happy?” I thought about what I really wanted my equine photography in this area to look like. What the wildlife photography that I am proud of looks like. In my head, I saw the movement, action, dynamic colors of the photography I wanted.
I decided that the only way to achieve this was to put on waders and get into the muddy waters. It was nerve-wracking once I got in the water because I could not stand in one spot for a long time; my feet kept sinking. I managed to find enough footing to focus on the animals in front of me. However, I was concerned about these wild horses getting too close. A sudden splash of salty water could completely ruin my equipment.
Essentially, I had thought of everything that could go wrong and had more than enough excuses to not do it. Wildlife photography definitely presents its own unique set of challenges in this way. On the other hand, I had one reason to get in. I wanted some good equine photography from this location. Working through my fears, I managed to get in the waist-high water. I found myself perfectly in front of this herd of Camargue as they ran towards me. At long last, I had my trophy, this photograph. I love this photograph, not because of how it looks but because of how it helped me grow as a photographer and person.
Follow the journey and wildlife experience on Instagram.com/ejazkhanearth
View so much more equine photography below
This horse was so powerful when he ran I could clearly see he was the alpha male.
The sun was descending over the horizon as I came upon some wild horses grazing on saltwater grass.
Two things could have happened; I could have ended up in the ER or ended up with an image like this one.
• 8” x 12” in
• 17.5” x 26.25” in
• 23.5” x 35.25” in
• 35.5” x 53.25” in
• 43.5” x 65.25” in
• Black Frame
• White Frame