At the end of May last year I finally embarked on my mini adventure to the Camargue to photograph the White horses of the Camargue.
This trip had been booked two years prior but unfortunately got delayed due to Covid. Needless to say, I was ready to go when I received the green light to go!
The journey began in the early hours of the morning, I was so excited but a little nervous too. I was flying from Manchester to Marseille and then traveled onwards to Les Saintes Maries de la Mer which is the capital of Camargue.
I was meeting a group of photographers, who had all come together to photograph these beautiful horses. In order to photograph these beautiful horses I joined a group tour which was organised by Jonathan Chritchley. Over years, Jonathan has built up many relationships with guardians of these beautiful horses which enabled us to be able to photograph them in their natural environment in the salt marshes and of course galloping through the sea and much more! A big thank you has to go out to both Jonathan and the Guardians of these stunning horses as without their help and expertise, my series of photographs wouldn’t have been possible.
The white horses of Camargue are one of the oldest rare breeds dating back to the 1500s. The horses come from a long and storied legacy, thought to date back to prehistoric times. They are looked after by incredible people known as Guardians or the French cowboys who are entrusted to look after these semi-wild horses. The bond they have with the horses is amazing. The trust they have built up over many generations of being Guardians (often keeping this tradition in their families) was truly remarkable. Sadly, the population of Camargue horses are diminishing (they are now classed as an endangered breed) so goes with it the tradition of the horsemen too. The Guardians hope that the passion that the French cowboys share, for their stewardship, will keep their legacy alive, which is so very important.
My first photography shoot began at 5 am which was practically a lie-in as, as each day progressed we started earlier and earlier!
We ventured out. We walked a little while through some small sand dunes and then near the edge of the sea, It was amazing to see so many pink flamingoes all relaxing as the sun began to rise, I nervously waited as the Guardians suddenly appeared on the horizon, on horseback, a little distance behind their herd of Camargue horses.
I was so excited to see them. I could have burst. Armed with my camera, wearing the latest in high-end fishing fashion, I was ready to photograph them!
The first thing which struck me about the horses was how inquisitive and friendly they were. They were confident and very eager to meet us along with being very interested in my old polo mint-infused camera bag too!
I was photographing around twenty horses in the sea. They were very excited and couldn’t wait to gallop through the ocean, as they ran towards me you could feel the sea spray, hear the crashing waves then feel the thunder of the hooves on the sand. My adrenalin was at an all-time high! The horses just literally run at you. You can’t move as of course they wouldn’t know where to run so you simply have to stay in one spot and hope for the best as you photograph them. Gosh, I absolutely loved it. This was when I fell in love with the white horses of Camargue. I did two shoots per day one early morning just before sunrise and another just before sunset. The light was absolutely beautiful, in particular, as it glinted peacefully upon the ocean. As the horses galloped through it, they broke the calm, creating an emotive mix of freedom and serenity. Then when I photographed the Camargue horses in a turbulent mix of dust, running horses and a sunset I was so charged full of emotion I could have cried as the sight was truly beautiful, raw and wild.
My trip to the Camargue to photograph the white horses of Camargue has been on my bucket list to do for many years. It was my first official photography trip abroad as a fine art photographer since changing the focus of my photography work, I was nervous, unsure, and felt a little unconfident when I initially began my trip. However, the more I photographed this mystical breed and stayed in their company the more I grew in confidence and I knew this is was I am meant to do both. personally and for my growing art business. Creating artwork that connects both on an emotional and creative level has always been my goal and being in the presence of these wonderful rare breeds enabled me to explore these elements within my work a bit more. Undoubtedly I will visit them again one day to continue to photograph them and be in their presence once again.
If you would like to see the full series of photographs please click here – https://esthertowler.com/whitehorsesofcamargueseries/