Stockport-based horse photographer Joanne Thibodeau
PUBLISHED: 00:00 28 April 2016
Owning a horse changed the life of Stockport photographer Joanne Thibodeau, writes Janet Reeder
Buying a horse two years ago has been a life-changing experience in more ways than one for Stockport-based Joanne Thibodeau.
The 47-year-old not only acquired a new love in her life, her Gypsy Cobb, named Badger, but gained a new career as an equestrian and pet photographer, producing stunning images for her clients.
Originally from Quebec in Canada, Joanne moved to the UK in the year 2000 after meeting her husband Stephen over there - saying she just had to follow him back to the UK. She worked as a software developer but last June was made redundant and rather than head back into the rat race she decided to embrace change and take the opportunity to do what she’d always wanted - embark on a career as a full-time professional photographer, with horses and pets as her speciality.
‘It was taking up riding relatively later on in my life that had inspired me,’ she explains.
‘I had started as an antidote to the stress I was feeling at work and I really enjoyed it, so I was toying with the idea of perhaps buying a horse. I was a little apprehensive but then Badger came up for sale at the school where I was riding and I liked the look of him. He was also really laid back and I thought I could deal with him. So it just happened. I fell in love!’
Wielding a Nikon D750, Joanne began taking pictures of horses as a hobby before starting to build up her portfolio and discovered that things don’t always go to plan where animals are concerned - especially when they’re a little frisky.
‘Before I became “official” I met a girl who offered her horse for a photoshoot,’ says Joanne.
‘He was quite nervous and although I was trying to keep my distance he quickly backed into me and kicked my camera, breaking my lens. And I wasn’t insured at the time!’
North Rode, Cheshire - This was in North Rode in Cheshire. The lady had two other horses and three dogs which I also photographed. The horse was a Welsh D type and very pretty but the angle of the photograph makes it more interesting.
Ellie and Lily - Ellie is the girl and Lily is the mare and I took this close to where I live in Stockport. This is what I do most. People love to have portraits taken of them with their horse.
Georgie and Magic - Georgie's photoshoot was in Stockport, only a couple of miles from my home. She was with her gelding, Magic, whos seven. Hes a hunter type and she enjoys going on hunts with him.
Gypsy Vanner Rubin, Poland - The horse in the picture is called Rubin and he is a Gypsy Vanner. The picture was taken in the South West of Poland in a place called Nowogrodziec and its not the sea but an artificial lake created on white sand. I did not get splashed as I was at a good distance from the horse but it was such a hot day that after the session I went for a dip in the water !
La Ferme Equestre Excalibur, Quebec, Canada - This was for a breeder, who had a lot of youngish horses, about six months old and it was a really nice experience. They are such pretty horses.
Les Gitans Amerique - These are Gypsy Vanner horses and quite rare in Quebec, so they sell for more money there than in the UK. They asked me to take the pictures with a black background, which turns it into more of a portrait. That kind of background can be done for clients who want it, all you need is a barn, or darker area.
Moonlight - This one was taken in a cornfield in Quebec, Canada. I thought it made quite a different background. it was a commission from a lady who wanted me to keep it natural so hes still got mud on him. I have just been accepted by the British Institute of Professional Photography and this is an image they particularly liked.
Stallion, Milky Way and gelding, Hart - I took this when I was in the south of Poland, one was a stallion, the other a gelding Polish Warmblood. They were both very playful together in the field so it made my job quite easy.
Not wanting any repeats of that kind of expensive error, Joanne quickly learned how to put the horses at ease during the shoot and get the most out of them in front of the lens. Last year her career began in earnest when she embarked upon two amazing overseas trips. One in Poland, where she had the chance to photograph some beautiful horses such as Gypsy, Fresian, Polish Warmblood and Haflinger and the other back to her native Quebec, where she worked on four different commissions.
‘The first one was at Les Gitans d’Amerique, a Gypsy Vanner breeder, owner of a stallion with amazing feathers,’ she says.
‘The second one was at a breeder - La Ferme Equestre Excalibur - who specialises in Quarter Horses and the last photoshoot was with a client who wanted some portraits of her horse, Moonlight a TB Quarter Horse.’
Joanne now with her own business Joanne Photography, has a growing list of clients keen for her to take pictures of their horses, including breeders, as well as individuals keen to preserve their mount for posterity. She also undertakes commissions of pets, mostly dogs and possibly the most popular pictures are of owners with their horse or pet.
Price for a two hour shoot starts at £110, after which Joanne visits the home with a range of purchase options, depending upon the client wants a framed, image, digital images etc.
Anyone interested in booking Joanne can visit her website www.joanne-photography.co.uk for further details