Photographing Horses, the book -- In the late fifties I started doing oil portraits and photographing horses for anatomy research. In the first few years I did not have a drivers license so my mother (Ronda) drove me to Wiescamps the first time, and I remember to Sarcoxie, MO to Wilds. Both had ordered portraits. Later I drove, and then flew to special shoots. When I was married in 1963, Linda went on some trips, then sometimes some of the kids went along.
In 1967 I bought my first Texas Longhorns. It was a breed not easy to find, or buy, and the market was wide open. There were more buyers than inventory. As I crisscrossed the nation taking photos, I would hunt Texas Longhorn herds and little by little saw every major early herd except one that was lost in California. As I got more and more backed up on portrait orders I was jammed with the contract to do 34 paintings of 34 different colored horses for the book by Dr. Ben Green, THE COLOR OF HORSES. I would go to the studio at 5 AM and sometimes work until midnight trying to get all the commissions completed without slacking on detail. As the Texas Longhorn registered cattle business became easy to develop, easy to sell, and interest kept increasing, it was obvious something had to stop. I couldn't do it all.
In 1979 I connected with Northland Press of Flagstaff, AZ and they were excited about me writing a book on livestock photography. I had determined that the continuous travel had to stop. I had a perfectly good wife, 4 kids, two boys and a girl to be father to. The painting and photography came to an end. The Texas Longhorns won.
There was a big need to photograph livestock but it wasn't going to be me doing it forever. By writing the book PHOTOGRAPHING HORSES and OTHER LIVESTOCK, it was an effort to give what I had learned to others who could go ahead and do the business of livestock photography. The guts of the book dealt with the 7 mistakes in livestock photography, and it also spills over to almost all photography. 1) Pose, 2) Light, 3) Camera height, 4) Background, 5) Front elevation, 6) Distortion factor and 7) Correct cropping.
The month the book came off the press we went a step further and started the Livestock Photography School. We took no more than 30 student per session and did a crash 5 day school which included the book as the manual for all classes. The school involved photographing a dozen horses and cattle first thing in the morning then chemically processing the photos all afternoon and often into the night. Many magazines sent their promising young people to the school to get the photo skills to move them into "photo journalism." Gary Lake came to the first school, had great skills and assisted me with all the additional schools. Gary is an accomplished photographer. Many people attended the 5 day schools and went on to make a business of photography and became very successful. In the few years that schools were offered there were 26 schools.
The PHOTOGRAPHING HORSES book sold out 5 printings and has been out of print since about 1990. I have neglected to revise it and do a second book. The 7 mistakes are still the 7 mistakes, but the dated equipment discussed in the book is exactly 50 years old. Today's digital zooms are so nice compared to the cumbersome huge speed graphics I drug around. The info is still good. Any livestock person can read the book and quickly take their own photos for ranch promotion. It is all about the 7 mistakes. The knowledge is yours. Just read the book.
Although out of print, I have about a dozen used books (with all the pages still in them) I could part with. Send $35 and your return address. I will get one to you. Send to LHTT, 35000 Muskrat Pike, Barnesville, OH 43713.
Author: Darol Dickinson