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The Art of Equine Photography
by Audrey Poff, photography by Kim Vickrey

Travelling in the back seat of her family’s car as a child, Kim Boyd Vickrey would often imagine that she was instead galloping alongside the vehicle, racing down the road on horseback.

A professor of graphic design at Arkansas State University, Vickrey has taught at the university level for nearly 25 years, including 20 years at A-State. Although her passion for horses came first, Vickrey also has a love for photography and graphic design. It is the unique combination of her love for horses, her photography and design skills, and her desire to educate and inspire that have allowed her to hone her skills as an equestrian photographer. As a result, she has amassed a collection of breathtaking images of different breeds and types of horses from photographs she has taken all over the world.

A lifetime horse enthusiast, Vickrey has experienced first hand the immeasurable bond between a girl and her horse.

“I was influenced by both sets of grandparents who had horses and introduced them to me early,” she said. “I asked for a horse for my birthday or for Christmas every year since I was 9 years old, but didn’t get one until I was in my 40s.”

Vickrey describes herself as someone who has always had a creative mind.

“I majored in graphic design in college, and photography was a natural choice as my minor, as composition and ideas came so easy for me,” she said. “No matter if it was on paper, a computer screen or through a viewfinder.”

In addition to being an educator, Vickrey is a professional photographer whose portfolio includes everything from stunning portraits of high school seniors to families, couples and little girls in tutus. Among some of the most dramatic images in her collection, however, are photographs of horses that she took during a trip to Iceland in 2016.

How were you chosen to be a part of the select group of international photographers who traveled to Iceland? A photographer from Italy knew my work from a trip we took together to Spain many years ago. She arranges trips with hand-selected professionals who are open to creativity and who can “see” differently. I am a graphic designer who uses a camera as an accompaniment to a computer and software. I envision, art direct and create stunning images of the most beautiful animal on earth. Not to be confused with taking a picture of a pretty pony.

What was your specific area of research during the trip to Iceland? Whenever I am able to do any research in the states or abroad, it is imperative that I gather as many images as possible to work on. I shot about 500 a day in Iceland. When it’s a 100 percent “horsey” trip, I can shoot several thousand a day. It’s my visual library that gives me the ability to create new work instead of recycling old stuff. Part of my responsibility as a professor in the Department of Art and Design at ASU is to publish, exhibit and speak at conferences about my craft. Every faculty member in our department practices what they preach. We are all accomplished artists who bring our research and expertise back into our classrooms, something not many universities are able to claim.

What did you find most fascinating about the Icelandic culture? The people. Icelanders are some of the friendliest people in the world, and the food. I am such a picky eater with a very limited palate, but I loved every meal I had there. And I can’t forget about the stories—elves, trolls, Vikings and Norse Gods. The country itself is like another planet. You can walk or drive and the landscape will go from lava fields covered in green moss with a volcano and change across the road to black sand beaches. You can climb a mountainous glacier and see an amazing little red church in the middle of a field of purple Lupines. And everywhere—there are horses.

What are some other places you hope to photograph in the future and why? This spring/early summer, along with a colleague, I am scheduled to take a group of art and design students for a summer abroad trip to Iceland. The minute I stepped off the plane in Reykavik (the capital city) two years ago, I knew I was coming back with students. We will be there for about 20 days studying photography, painting and drawing.

What other workshops or research projects have you participated in that involved equestrian photography?
I am asked each year to teach conceptual development, composition and post editing (Photoshop) techniques in California for a company that arranges “Hollywood” horses and professional models for an exclusive photography workshop experience. The models are all horsemen and women who not only look amazing, they do it safely and correctly with the stallions we photograph. Locations are held in the wine country, on the beach and on large ranches. It’s a tough gig.

When you aren’t taking photos of horses, what are some of your other favorite subjects to photograph? I’ve been photographing high school seniors for several years. It is, honestly, the most fun “people” shoot I do. Showing young women (and men) the amazingness of how others see them, when oftentimes at that age, they don’t see it themselves. It is the most gratifying feeling in the world … when they see my images and believe it for themselves.

For more information about Vickrey or to see more of her photography, visit kimvickrey.com.