01 March 2010

Josh Walker: An Inside Peek at His Horse Photography

When I started writing this blog I spent a lot of time trolling eventing photography and I fell in love with several images. Then, about two months ago, I realized they all belonged to one photographer. Who, you might be wanting to know? Well, that would be Josh Walker. And you know what’s even cooler? He works for the USEA so chances are he’s snapped your photo as you’ve barreled across a trakehner or galloped across a field. So I figured he’d be a perfect interview: A brilliant photographer with the heart of an eventer and the eye of an artist. Plus (true story) he’s engaged to Emily Daily who also works at the USEA. So sweet! Read on for more on the love of his life, one very focused Jack Russel and how he fell in love with photographing horses.

Above: This image comes from Josh’s minimalism series. Somehow the stark background conveys even more of the emotion and power of cross-country. Copyright Josh Walker.


Q. Where do you live?

A. Well, I just recently moved to Kearneysville, West Virginia on the border of West Virginia and Northern Virginia. It’s nice; it’s about ten minutes away from where Sharon White lives and we have four acres and four ponies on those four acres. It’s a little farmette and the previous owners had it ready made for us. It was turn key, we’re just doing one thing at a time to make improvements: footing in the ring, extend the pastures. I’ve moved around a lot in the past few years and I’ve finally found a place I want to be for an extended amount of time.


Q. Are you in a relationship?

A. Emily Daily is my fiancé. I met her at the Chronicle of the Horse, I worked there about two years. In the Fall of 2006 she was the intern there. We worked together, she was on my editorial staff, we hung out outside of work as well and started to get to know each and we just kind of clicked. Horses are always something I’ve wanted to do and it’s something she’s always done her whole life. What she knows is such an attraction to me. She’s also very creative and is a great writer with a great sense of humor. It all came together and one thing led to another and we decided, hey, let’s do this for the long haul. There’s very few people that I can spend 24/7 with and not get sick of. We live together, work together, ride together. And I have yet to want to strangle her or anything.

Above: Remember how I said I fell in love with several images? This was one of them. It makes me want to gallop across a wide-open field and hear nothing but wind and my horse’s breath. Copyright Josh Walker.


Q. Who are your pets?

A. We have two dogs. A Jack Russel and a Corgi. The jack is called Samson and the Corgi is Bailey. They’re interesting. Samson is a very focused dog, let’s just put it that way. If you have a ball or stick, nothing else matters. You can hold it in your hand and he’ll stare at it until you throw it. He’s a ball of energy. Bailey, you could say the same thing about him but with food. True story: he has eaten an entire leather belt. His main goal in life is to eat more. He spends most of his day lounging around until it’s time to eat again. But they’re good boys. They have been my photo subject a number of times. We have a cat, an ancient cat. Emily had her years ago before I even knew her. Her name is Wookie and she’s is a Himalayan without teeth or claws and she’s senile. But we love her anyway.


Above: Samson and his unyielding focus. Copyright Josh Walker.


Q. When did you start taking photographs?

A. To be honest I didn’t really pick up a camera until late in high school. I’ve always been into visuals and arts. I’d flip through a magazine to look at the advertisements. I always wanted to communicate visually. I grew up in Carlsbad, San Diego and at the end of high school I grabbed my parent’s camera. My friends were like let’s go surf so I took the camera and after surfing I started taking pictures and thought how cool it was to freeze that moment in time forever. It hit me then.

Above: A classic surfing shot. Copyright Josh Walker

After high school I knew I wanted to do something with visuals and photography. In college I found a neat program for photography and graphic design at California State University, San Marcos. So while I was there I met a lot of people who rode. Hunter Jumpers and eventers and I started becoming a part of that crowd. I hadn’t ridden up until this point. Every time I’d go out to ride I’d bring my camera and take pictures and go to shows and take pictures. When I did that I got the same feeling I got when I took pictures surfing—freezing time. I spent a year in Australia studying abroad. That’s where I studied photojournalism and how the whole industry works. I came back to California after that and had one more semester and graduated and found an internship at the Chronicle which is a funny story in itself since I had only been riding two or three years. Getting in there-some of the editors are A pony clubbers and had been on horses their whole lives-I don’t know how I made it through the interview process. I promised I would learn as fast as I could. I sent them pictures and a writing sample and they said we’ll give you a shot.


Q. Where all do you travel for work? What is your schedule like?

A. Last year I went to 15 or 16 different events which is a fair amount. That’s about two events a month and that ranges from local things in Area II all the way out to California and Galway Downs. It’s busy. It’s crazy. But it’s fun. I definitely enjoy it. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t enjoy it. I do cherish my home time and my solitude but when I go out there I remember why I do it. It’s such a unique sport and capturing the unique feel, the power, the beauty is something I’ve always loved to do and now having an outlet to share that makes it all worthwhile.

Above: Of my initial favorites this was the very first. Love at first Connemara. I think it almost looks like an oil painting. Copyright Josh Walker.


Q. What’s your schedule like when you’re at a competition?

A. I’ll give you an example. The AEC [American Eventing Championships] is probably one of the busiest events that we do. A typical morning will start by getting out of bed at 5:30 or 6:00am and get enough coffee in us. I’ll hit the ring or the field at the first horse and pretty much be out there until the last horse goes. That’s half the day. Then I’ll go back to the hotel or stick around for the competitor’s party and take more pictures there. Talk to people, get quotes, take everything back to the hotel and plug in the computer and order room service or pizza. Then I’m up until 2:00am editing video and putting it on the website and doing interviews. You finally get to bed at 3:00am and get up at 5:30am to do it all over again. It’s an intense weekend. One thing that keeps me doing it is being out there and doing those interviews and capturing these pictures of people who are so happy to be there and loving their horses. It makes it all worth it to me. Not all events are like that. At some smaller events you get out there at 8am and last horse at 3pm you go back to the hotel get the pictures processed and done with work at 6:00 or 7:00pm and you get a regular bedtime. I appreciate those too!

Copyright Josh Walker

I invite you to browse Josh Walker’s photography and get lost like I did. Or check back here for part II of Josh Walker and some more of his unique work.

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2 Comments on “Josh Walker: An Inside Peek at His Horse Photography”

  1. That picture of the fuzzy donkey ears makes me indescribably happy. I just want to stick my whole face in those ears….

     

  2. I'm with you. That donkey is my new best friend!

     

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