A brief history
The Roman army used farriers and even took them with them on campaigns. Farriers were so important to the Romans that they were not used in battle and were not charged with chores of the other soldiers such as ditch digging or patrols.
There is some evidence that horses were shod in Britain before the Norman Conquest of 1066 and it is also suggested that William the Conqueror presented a coat of arms and a surname of de Ferrers to his farrier. It is believed by some that this is where the name farrier was derived. Another possibility is that it came from the Latin word “ferrarius” which means iron.
In 1887 the Worshipful Company of Farriers set up exams in England to test trades peoples skills in Farriery Showing the importance of this industry.
During my research,I did not come across any photographers that specialise in farrier photography but there are many who specialise in horse or equine photography. There seems to be a broad range of styles from shooting horses in their natural, free, wild state to working or show horses. I have found a couple of videos from British Pathe showing farriers in action and because they are dated they show that the work is pretty much unchanged from when they were recorded to my shots of Marc.
For research purposes I have also included a couple of equine photographers.
Carol is an American equine photographer from Colorado. She travels the world making images of horses that are at liberty. As well as selling her art work, she has written several books on the subject and also runs workshops for photographers who share the same interests.
The money that she makes from the sale of her art work and books is used to help with wild horse conservation.
Lancashire born photographer Matthew Seed has a background in fashion photography and this shows in his equine work. His stylised images of horses jump out of the page at you and you can see why his work is so sought after.
Using high speed sync to drop away the ambient light he is a master of the studio strobe and speed light. He also uses beauty dishes and other modifiers that many would not associate with photographing horses outdoors.
Why I choose this trade
Even from a young age I have loved horses, my mother used to ride when she was young and I too had my own pony by the time I was eight. The picture to the left shows me aged about three with my mum, though sadly I do not know the name of the horse or the location.
I remember as a child the Farrier coming to our home to shoe my horse Jock. He was a small Shetland pony with a feisty temperament. I have long since wanted to photograph a farrier at work and this project seemed to be the ideal opportunity to complete a project brief and fulfil a longstanding ambition.
Initially, I searched on Google/Yell and came across a local farrier called Marc Jarram who lived just a few miles away in a small village called Brewood. We swapped a few emails and he agreed to let me spend the morning of 29th October with him at his stables while he shod one of his own horses.
This was my initial email to Marc.
I came across your details via Yell.com. My name is Nik Andrews and I am a 53 year old photographer currently studying on a HND course at Wolverhampton College. I have been given a project called “heroes of industry”, where I need to produce some images of a craftsman. I have always wanted to photograph a Farrier at work and wonder if you might be kind enough to let me follow you for a day, taking images of you as you work?
I would like to capture images of you at the forge through to completion, ideally putting shoes on a horse, but I understand that would depend on the work you are doing at this time.
Would you please let me know at your earliest convenience if this is something you would be willing to participate in please? You would of cause get a complete copy of the images for you to use on your promotional material and website etc.
Should you wish to take a look at my work my web page is www.hndphotography.co.uk
“I qualified as a farrier in 2006 after a four year apprenticeship and passing the Worshipful Company of Farriers Dip.WCF examination. I then travelled overseas to further my farriery experience before returning to England in 2008 to start my own farriery practice based in Brewood, Staffordshire. Since this time I have undertook a range of CPD(Continual Professional Development) studies to further my farriery knowledge and provide the best possible service to both horse and owner.”
My chosen images for this assignment
All of the following images were captured using a 70 – 200 lens with an off-camera flash bounced off of a white wall to the right of my camera. I used off-camera flash for a number of reasons the main one being once set in the required position I could pretty much leave it there and the horse would become acclimatised to its position and not spook her too much. I asked Marc beforehand if this was OK and we did a few test fires to see if Maisey was OK with it.
#1 Removal of the old shoe
EXIF: 1/160 F4 70mm ISO 640
In this first image, I wanted to show Marc removing the shoe and used a wider shot to show how he positioned himself in relation to the horse to do so.
I think it is a great environment style image showing the viewer enough information and detail to instantly understand what is going on. I was amazed at how fast and easily the shoe came away from the hoof.
Although I used flash I wanted a natural feeling shot and so used a higher ISO with a 16th power flash setting to balance with the ambient light in the stable. The sync speed on my 6D is 1/160th so used this so as not to go into HSS on the flash as I find this produces more of a popping sound when the flash fires and may have spooked the horse plus using the lower power setting also helped with recycle time on the strobe.
#2 Preperation of the hoof for the new shoe
EXIF: 1/160 F4 70mm ISO 640
Shot initially at the same focal length as the previous image but I felt a tighter crop made the image stronger. The viewer has been given the geography of the location and the event taking place so I decided to show the detail as the farrier prepared the hoof for a new shoe.
What appeals to me about this image is the sharpness of the image and the filings of the hoof falling away as Marc works. You can also see the wear and tear of his leather chaps which adds to the rustic environment we are in.
As before a hint of flash just to help brighten up the shadows and to freeze the action.
#3 Maisey waiting patiently
EXIF 1/250 F5 17mm ISO 1000
I thought it important to at some point show the entire horse with a little more of the surroundings in the shot.
While Marc was still filing the hoof I swapped my lens to my 17-40 F4 With a shutter speed of 1/250 and an F stop of 5.0 to add a little more depth of field, I did enter the realms of HSS on this one but I increased my ISO to 1000 to keep a nice ambient flash balance.
The original image was shot in landscape format but felt that it benefited from this crop removing some of the distracting items on the wall to the right of my camera helped train the viewer’s attention more towards the horse.
#4 Hot out of the forge
EXIF: 1/160 F5 70mm ISO 640
Swapping back to my zoom lens to capture this image of a red-hot shoe as it has just left the portable forge in the back of Marc’s van. This was shot with just existing light and I cropped the image somewhat to make the shoe more prominent in the shot to isolate it from surrounding distractions and place it on the right upper third of the image.
I feel the contrast between the old brown rusty forge and the bright red-hot shoe is just perfect as the forge makes for a nice backdrop to highlight the shoe and throw it forward in the image.
#5 Sizing of the shoe
EXIF: 1/160 F5 200mm ISO 640
Even though this image was shot on the end of my lens at 200mm it has still been cropped to make for a more dramatic image, originally shot in portrait orientation I decided that, once cropped, a landscape configuration was much more suited to this image and allowed me to use the rule of thirds placing the shoe in the upper right third.
F5 worked perfectly to produce a sharp image to draw the eye to the front of the anvil, the shoe and then the large pincers holding the shoe. After this, the image softens which helps to remove too much emphasis on the farrier’s hand.
#6 checking size and seating of the shoe
EXIF: 1/160 F5 102mm ISO 640
Placing the superheated shoe on the hoof made this amazing smoke wrap around the farrier as the shoe seared on to the hoof for a good flat fit. Interestingly the horse never flinched once.
This was already quite a tight crop out of camera but I just cropped in a little more to focus on the action with the focus on the shoe and the hoof, and then the smoke surrounding the action.
I selectively cooled the image a little with the adjustment brush turning the smoke a little blue, Doing this makes the hoof and the shoe pop through and attracts the viewers eye.
I felt this was one of the strongest images from the shoot and was a very important part of the story.
#7 The heat has moulded the hoof
EXIF: 1/160 F5 70mm ISO640
The only picture where Marc engages with the camera as he presents the hoof of the horse for me to capture a shot showing the burnt hoof.
This was a lucky capture as I was closely focusing on the hoof as the farrier looked up I hit the shutter. With luck his head was on the same focal plane as the hoof. If I could shoot this image again I would have captured more of Marc’s head. That said I managed to get both eyes in the frame and they are sharp so I do feel the shot still works and is a nice addition to the set because of his interaction with the viewer.
#8 Quenching the shoe
EXIF: 1/160 F5 70mm ISO 640
A simple shot but full of energy as the extremely hot iron shoe is thrust into a pale of water It begins to boil as the heat is dissipated into the water.
Shot in the doorway of the stable, I also used the flash to help freeze the motion of the boiling water, this may not have been as sharp at 1/160th shutter speed.
The bucket was quite worn and damaged so in photoshop I cleaned it up a little as the damage distracted from the action taking place. I also removed a leaf and a hosepipe in the background.
#9 Driving the nails home
EXIF: 1/160 F5 70 mm ISO 500
Driving home the nails, as with most of my images in this set, needed to be a close up to show the action in detail. This was another shot taken in portrait but during the editing process lent itself more to a landscape format, placing the nail on the right lower third intersection. I like that the hammer can be seen in this shot but I wish I had of had the time and forethought to slow the shutter to get some movement in the hammer. And possibly moved a little more to the right to lose some of the handle of the farrier’s toolbox.
#10 Fitted shoe
EXIF: 1/160 F5 100mm ISO 500
The finished job. Marc presented the hoof with new shoe for me to photograph , the image was taken at 100mm and was slightly cropped in post just to give more emphasis to the work.
#11 profile of fitted shoe
EXIF: 1/200 F5 110mm ISO640
Profile of the finished hoof completing the story of how a farrier shoes a horse.
Again another close up showing detail with minimal distraction from outside elements.
I am so glad I chose to photograph a farrier and I am indebted to Marc Jarram for allowing me to attend his stables.
I really like the above images and have tried to edit them in a subtle way keeping the warm colours present but not oversaturated. All the images are sharp and the focus is where it should be. Due to the nature of the work, most of the images are very tight close-ups but I realised the need to include one or two looser shots to give the viewer some geography of where they were taken. Plus Masey was a lovely horse and deserved to be seen.
I tried to select images and present them in a logical order so the viewer can see from start to finish the process.
Using off-camera flash was in my opinion the best idea for this shoot as it meant once my exposures were set I could just concentrate on the images and not the technicalities of the exposure triangle. I think that it can be seen from the EXIF data that this worked well as for the most part 1/160 F5 ISO640 worked perfectly and I only needed to change these for a couple of the images due to changes in the overall tonality of the image.
Sadly Marc had already prepared the shoes and only needed to be reheated for the fitting process I would have loved to have captured him actually making the shoes from scratch, but he had already done so the day before my arrival.
Living Images. (2018). Wild Horse and Horse Fine Art Prints by Carol J. Walker, Horse Stock Photography, Horse and Wild Horse Books and Calendars. [online] Available at: http://www.livingimagescjw.com/ [Accessed 4 Jan. 2018].
Seed, I. (2018). Interview with Matthew Seed. [online] Manfrotto School Of Xcellence. Available at: http://www.manfrottoschoolofxcellence.com/2014/11/interview-matthew-seed/ [Accessed 4 Jan. 2018].
The Horse Photographer. (2018). About Matthew | The Horse Photographer. [online] Available at: https://www.horse-photographer.co.uk/about-matthew/ [Accessed 4 Jan. 2018].