Icelandic Horses images taken during our 2018 and 2019 photo workshops on South and North Iceland.
The Icelandic horse is a unique breed. After a 1000 years of isolation, they have adapted to the harsh weather conditions, undaunted by high winds, snow and glacial rivers. Short and sturdy, more like ponies than horses, many of them have 2 extra gaits called the tolt and flying pace which makes them very smooth to ride.
They come in a variety of colours: chestnut, black, white, grey, silver, palomino to name but a few. A herd of multi-coloured horses galloping across the black sand beaches is a sight to behold. Iceland offers the most amazing backdrops from waterfalls to glaciers, beaches to mountains. There are endless creative opportunities for fine art equine photography.
I’ve been photographing horses for nearly a decade now and have developed a particular fondness for the Icelandic horse. They are friendly, welcoming and curious, sometimes a little too curious! With over 80,000 spread across the country, the potential is immense.
During my recent horse photography workshop in the South of Iceland, we had exclusive access to over 150 horses. We photographed herds running through rivers, galloping across the beach and grazing peacefully in the mountains. The horse handlers were extremely talented, able to move them into position for us to optimise the light and background.
Their long manes blowing in the wind are stunning, adding drama and shape to images especially when shot in profile. Sometimes they have blue eyes which seem to look right through you, providing a strong focal point for a photograph. To say they are photogenic would be an understatement. Everyone that attended the workshop loved the experience and are keen to return for more opportunities.
Some of my favourite images are simple portraits. A solitary horse standing in a bleak landscape; a moment of tenderness between 2 horses or a mother with her foal or maybe a close-up of an eye. All captivating and engaging, I try to avoid fussy backgrounds that can be distracting. This can be attained by using a shadow depth of field or a low angle with the sky behind.
Action shots with a herd are more challenging as it’s difficult to isolate a horse when they are bunched together. One solution is to concentrate on the lead horse and try to create a pleasing composition, there’s an element of luck but repetition tends to yield good results.
The horses remain an important part of the Icelandic culture, bringing people together and rewarding them with life-long friendship and loyalty.