I always like to present a challenge for the photographers on our Photography Holidays, and in Menorca the first challenge normally comes quite early in the week.
The photographers arrive at various times on the Friday. On Saturday morning we get together for a chat so that I can look at everyone’s photographs. We have lunch beside the pool with sparkling cava and dishes of authentic Menorcan tapas – it’s all included in the cost of the holiday. In the afternoon we take a short walk along the cliffs to the next village just to get our shutter fingers working.
Then comes the real challenge – in the evening I take the photographers to the local horse trotting races.
Many of the photographers have never attempted to capture high speed action before, so the difficulties of panning with fast or slow shutter speed can come as a bit of a shock.
It is amazing what is achieved with guidance and a little help. Some of the pictures that the photographers achieve from these trips are an absolute knockout. In fact, I don’t recall that any of the photographers I have taken to these horse trotting races has every failed to produce at least one god photograph.
One of the joys of covering these events in Menorca is the fantastic welcome extended to our photographers by the people who run the trotting events. This is definitely not a big league commercial event. It is run by the participants themselves – local people who love horses and are happy to help our photographers get great pictures.
The level of concentration on the main subject – horses and riders – when covering events like these can be intense. Rightly so if you are to produce powerful images. But I do try to guide the more advanced photographers in some of the techniques used by any professional photojournalist worth his salt.
One of these techniques is to ensure your eyes are kept wide open in order not to miss all the other photo opportunities that might present themselves. For instance, while walking up the dusty track between races, I encountered an old man walking the other way. I liked the look of the old boy and the look of the place he was in – so I captured the photograph. Not directly to do with the horse trotting, but a pleasing and atmospheric picture nevertheless.
And one that would have been missed if my eyes had been blinkered like some of the horses in the trotting races.
It is worth remembering that these ‘extra’ pictures can be tremendously valuable when selling your photo essay to a magazine or newspaper. They can add an extra dimension to your set of photographs and give the whole feature greater depth.
I often return alone to the horse rotting races when all the photographers have gone home. It always produces interesting photographs, and I am able to share them with the events organisers – it goes some way to repay the hospitality we receive.
We will be heading back to the horse trotting races on the next Photography Holiday in September. There are still some places available – so book your place now.