Words by Laura Fairbairn
Photography by Hayley Palmquist
When I saw a post on Facebook advertising a ‘model call’ from a photographer looking for a horse and human combination to photograph for a different angle of her business, I was a little sceptical. I dismissed the advert, thinking we would never be chosen as there were far better, more successful, more well-known people out there who I was sure would be keen to be the lucky ones. I was ‘tagged’ by a friend who said myself and my grey purebred Arabian gelding would be perfect, and I found myself thinking – maybe we would! My horse, Shazarni (Azinja El Shaklan x Focus Shayla), is very pretty and enjoys a lot of pampering and fuss, so I thought why not just apply as we’ve nothing to lose. I didn’t really know what to expect, or what this mystery photographer was looking for, but I e-mailed her anyway.
The response I received back was somewhat of a surprise and after a short telephone conversation with the photographer, Hayley, we had been picked as her models!
Hayley Palmquist is a Canadian national now living in Aberdeen, Scotland, having met her husband while travelling around the world. Hayley is a very talented photographer; her style is driven and based on capturing authentic emotions and natural moments in a lifestyle documentary way. The ethos of Hayley’s work is giving her clients that feeling of nostalgia when looking back on old photographs. Hayley wants to make friends with you to give you the best experience from start to finish. She wants you to feel excited and comfortable to allow her into your relationship so that she can capture the authentic you. This ethos is reflected in her amazing photographs, from capturing the special moments on your wedding day to photographing you at home with a mug of tea, Hayley has got it nailed.
On speaking to Hayley, I really related to her style and was impressed with her enthusiasm for capturing those special moments. The different angle to her work Hayley wished to explore was to be called Your Story and she explained to me that it was to be A Day in Your Life documenting tangible memories that will be cherished for years to come. It wasn’t about show-ring wins, successes and being a well-known name – it was about a relationship between horse and human. Hayley further explained that the best bit about A Day in Your Life is that it doesn’t matter who, what, where, when. If it’s important to you, then it’s important to Hayley. Some examples of her A Day in Your Life shoots include families, new-born babies, special events, family gatherings, grandparents, couples and intimate lifestyle – you, doing the things you love. The equestrian angle was just one of these examples she wished to capture for her portfolio.
So, the date was set and the arrangements made. Hayley wanted to blend into the background and photograph myself and Shazarni getting prepared for a horse show, attending the horse show and thereafter heading home to relax. I was told I had to do nothing different, just be myself, do the things I always do and pretend she wasn’t there! So that’s what we did; there was no formal posing, it was all snaps of me and my horse just being ourselves – and everyone else also present during the prepping phase, dogs, pony, other horse and the usual amount of chaos!. It really was my life in pictures.
We were lucky enough to pick a show with fantastic photo opportunities – a stately home, secret garden, daffodil glen and a car port; yes, really – I thought her enthusiasm for the car port was weird too until I saw the photographs! Shazarni was bathed and groomed, looking every inch the ethereal Arabian every little girl wants to ride. Hayley had us standing and walking with the derelict stately home as our backdrop with me feeling like lady of the manor. I was later crouched in daffodils sharing kisses and intimate soft nuzzles with my special horse and this, of course, was also captured forever by Hayley. A backdrop of deep green Rhododendron bushes and long green grass were the setting for more perfect moments. Then there were the artistic show-ring shots, not your usual standard of show photography but far more intimate and unusual.
The returning home photographs were perfect too: the welcome we received from my ageing grey Arabian who snorted and blew along the fence-line as we drove down the drive was magic, especially with the equally elderly Shetland pony doing her best to be an Arab too! And then putting the tack away before turning Shazarni out in the field at the end of the day. Hayley was delighted with how the shoot went and assured me that the photographs would really capture our day.
And I wasn’t disappointed! The photographs are truly magical, every single one was captured and edited to the highest standard and I will treasure them forever. The experience itself for me was one in a million – it really was just me and my horse doing what we do, but having it captured forever reinforced to me how lucky I am to have such a special relationship with Shazarni and the other animals in my life. It was a pleasure to share my day with Hayley and hopefully you’ll see that the photographs will speak for themselves. It was extremely difficult choosing my favourites to accompany this piece and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
Thank you Hayley for picking us as your models and for giving me an experience I will never forget!