When you’re an equine photographer, the subject of your work is something any horse lover would go crazy for. For Tony Stromberg, his goal is to capture “the true beauty, power and spirit of the horse through his photography.” And, from the looks of his many incredible images, it’s easy to say that he does exactly that.
For Tony, he spent 20 years as a high-end advertising photographer in San Francisco. But in his heart, he knew that this wasn’t what he wanted out of life. Burnt out, disenchanted, every day exactly the same. He wanted more to feed his soul, and to pursue a passion which was fulfilling. Tony felt as if he was searching for his lost spirit.
In the mid 1990’s, Tony began to build a relationship with horses. It was then that he realized his calling and took the plunge to give up the monotony so that he could find the fulfillment his soul craved. Tony explains that horses have “taught me about the power of authenticity, honestly, and integrity, and they have taught me the true meaning of leadership and relationship.” Now, Tony gets to travel the world teaching others about how to become better equine photographers, along with photographing horses from all walks of life. (Sounds like a dream gig if you ask me!)
I had the opportunity to connect with Tony, and I asked him some questions I had for him regarding his impressive work and his connection to horses. Keep reading to learn more about the man behind the camera who makes all these beautiful images of our favorite subjects of all.
1. If you had to choose, which are your favorite horses to photograph?
Oh that is a tough question. Most likely a Lusitano, but I am also partial to Andalusians and Friesians. The trouble is, I like ALL horses, and they all have their unique qualities. I even like photographing draft horses… big gentle giants.
Here’s an interesting story: after I had my first book published (Spirit Horses), I wanted to do a book on flashy, fancy horses. I had started doing photo workshops by then, and noticed that some of the horses I photographed in previous years were no longer around. The more I probed, the more I discovered that these horses had been euthanized for various reasons… they were lame, couldn’t be ridden anymore, couldn’t get pregnant. It soon became so clear to me that the next book was not going to be about all the beautiful horses, it was going to be about all the unwanted horses in our country… a photographic tribute to all the horses that nobody wanted. It was actually a labor of love, and had a lot of meaning behind it.
2. Where is somewhere that you’ve photographed horses that’s been most memorable for you?
Most memorable? God, they are all so different. Portugal, Spain, Morocco, France, Iceland. They are all memorable to me.
3. Obviously we are living in strange times. How has this affected your work?
Well, since 80% of my income comes from my equine photography workshops, and I have had to cancel all but one workshop this year, it has affected me tremendously. I can only hope next year improves, otherwise I am going to have to get really creative. I have posted new workshops of next year on my site, and people are already gravitating towards the domestic workshops. Fingers crossed!!!
4. What’s something special you’d like people to know about the work that you do?
I have had many people tell me that I have the unique ability to show the true essence of horses… their soul, so to speak. That is my goal. I want to share the true spirit of the horses, and as you can see, I never photograph them with riders, or with bridles or halters, or in any sort of enclosure. Just horse, pure horse.
5. What’s the most important thing you’d tell someone who is considering a career as an equine photographer?
Oh man. Well, it is a competitive world out there. I think, firstly, you have to truly love what you photograph. I spend 20 years photographing people and things that I really didn’t care about. I got burned out and depressed. When I turned my lens towards horses, I found my spirit again. In retrospect, I realized that those 20 years are giving me the experience and knowledge that I could apply to something that I truly loved. I think my advice to anyone wanting to start a career in equine photography would be to “find your niche”. Do you want to do horse portraits? With people? Without? Fine Art only? And I think you have to develop a style that is unique to you, something that is clearly your “signature”. There are hundreds of horse photographers out there, and you need to stand out somehow. Also, a good marketing plan helps.
For a collection of Tony’s books, visit her; don’t forget to follow Tony Stromberg Photography on social media to keep up with his latest work. I’d like to give a special “thank you” to Tony for allowing me to share his wonderful images and answers with all of the iHeartHorses readers. I hope that you enjoyed them as much as I do.