Ziggy Wellens and Hariry Al Shaqab.
A TOUCH OF STYLE
A TOUCH OF ST YLE Z i g g y We l l e n s How long have you been associated with the Arabian horse industry? My journey in the Arabian horse industry started in 2011 after I completed my studies. What made you choose photography? The creation of memories so I can look back at them in the future. Where did you go to school or how did you learn your craft? I am a self-taught photographer that wanted to learn and improve my skill. When I first started, I read articles, tutorials and watched videos about all the different aspects of photography to learn the technical side of taking a good photograph. After understanding this, I would take my gear and just go out to different locations which provide me with specific settings of light, circumstances and subjects to practice what I have learned. It might take longer to learn everything this way, I am sure, but I am also confident that when you learn a passion on your own pace, you will remember it better in the future. When it comes to your photography, what would describe your sense of style? I am unsure if ‘style’ would be the right way of naming it, as in the end, I do not want to end up taking similar photographs over and over, but instead, want to improve and bring change as much as we can. I think a strong composition of the subject and good lighting is essential to create an interesting balance in a photograph. I do, myself, like vibrant, colorful photographs with quite some contrast which draws you into the subject. Or, in my black and white photography, I truly love to have the deep blacks contrasting with some bright white highlights, creating interest in the scenery at hand.
Have you been involved with various different aspects of the Arabian horse industry? Please share your road of travel through it. Yes, photography is actually just a hobby of mine, which I have been fortuned with to be able to incorporate into my current job. I have been involved with horses since childhood, mainly Quarter and Paint horses at the time. Always I was wondering if there would be an opportunity to make a career of working with horses. In 2011, after completing my studies, a cousin of mine, Hendrik Mens, the manager of Al Nasser Stud (Qatar), helped me to get in touch with Giacomo Capacci Arabians. It is here where my journey started. I worked with Giacomo as a groom to learn about the Arabian horse, the training, the daily care that is required, and what’s involved in the Arabian horse industry. It is at that moment when the light truly sparked and my interest started blooming to learn more. After half a year, we went to the 2011 World Championships with one of my favorite stallions— and still to this day—Kahil Al Shaqab, who was named World Champion Jr. Colt, making it a truly exciting start of my journey.
Photos by Ziggy Wellens. Right: Amir Al Shaqab
Amir Al Shaqab
Next I wanted to seek opportunities in the U.S., where I was able to get in touch with Robin Hopkinson Equine Management, who at the time was working for Bill and Nan Bensyl of Blue Star Farms; truly lovely people and a gorgeous farm where I stayed for the start of 2012. It is here where my skills once again improved by learning how to prepare the horses for the show in the way of schooling, show clipping, training and more.
Adnan De Jylbert
Having had the opportunity to work with some truly inspirational people in Europe and the U.S., I wanted to explore more and decided to look in the Middle East. I was able to get in touch with Mohammed Al Sulaiti and Broderick Levens of Al Shaqab, who decided to provide me with the opportunity to take care of a selection of their horses. Now I am part of a large dedicated team here at Al Shaqab taking care of over 300 horses. Â When you brand something to market, what do you feel is the most important aspect to take into consideration? Honesty. And now I am more specifically talking about the Arabian horse photography aspect, as I think one should do their absolute best to enhance the look of a horse through preparation, training and the use of the best possible light and scenery. However, what I will not do, is make any alteration to a horseâ€™s conformation in the final post-editing. What photographs have you taken in the Arabian horse industry that you are most proud of and is there a favorite Arabian horse that you have photographed and why?
A TOUCH OF STYLE
My horse photography is still recent, I would say. However, there are a few special moments that have past, that create that moment when you just look at your screen and say, ‘Wow!’ Some of my photographs of Farhoud Al Shaqab, Ghasham Al Shaqab and Amir Al Shaqab are amongst my favorites so far. As the stallions are located at Al Shaqab, I and the team have a close connection to them, providing us with the ability to capture them in a different way than how they have been previously photographed—showing them at the best time, and choosing the superior location and setting for each individual to ensure the best results.
The Leopard Lacewing Butterfly (Cethosia cyane).
Also in my job, I am responsible of taking care of the mares and their newborn foals. This gives me the opportunity to truly get to know the foals individually. After a short while, the foals will start to get more confident and truly blossom, and this is when one can start to see their individual characters; seeing how they interact with the people, other foals and their mothers, giving me the opportunity to select the best moment and scenery for each individual and truly showcase them at their best. In the end, it is all about taking that special moment and creating a story between the horse and its surroundings. What has the Arabian horse industry provided for you? The ability for me to grow my greatest passion into a career.
Ghasham Al Shaqab
Below: Doha, Qatat.
A TOUCH OF STYLE
Little Venice in Colmar, France.
Where do you get your inspiration from? I love to see what other people, outside of the equine industry, are able to create and wonder what the story is behind their photographs—the subject, the location, the photographer. Quite often there will be that special moment, a certain technique or gorgeous effect, which really intrigues me and gets me to try and incorporate this influence in my personal work, to keep improving and reinventing and showcase that story of a moment in time. What is your favorite part of what you do? It’s the whole concept that intrigues me, the progress of creating a beautiful photograph through my personal vision and sharing it with the world I absolutely love. But afterwards, seeing the response it receives can be extremely rewarding and can give me the inspiration to hopefully excel in my next work.
Left: Sacré-Cœur Basilica, Paris.
Who would you like to photograph for? There are so many truly extraordinary horses around the world and I would love to get the chance to capture every one of them. Do your subjects speak to you? A hard question to put into words. I do guess, that in a way they do. What is your perfect day? A busy day. If you could describe yourself in one word, what would it be? Passionate … and my colleagues say they TOTALLY AGREE! How do you like to spend your time away from work? Trying to find interesting places to get my next photograph, either locally or through future travel. n